How wise would it be for the Oilers to give up on Jesse Puljujarvi, or to trade their 2019 first-round pick in an effort to bolster their chances of making the playoffs?
It’s a question surely being considered behind closed doors as the trade deadline nears, and Elliotte Friedman was initially asked during a Friday morning radio hit on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 how realistic it might be that the team would deal away its young winger.
“I’ve heard a lot of different opinions on that,” began Friedman. “I’ve been told yes, I’ve been told no, I’ve been told it’s not what they want to do. So I think it’s probably a combination of all three.
“One of the things that happens is teams say, ‘We’re not shopping the guy,’ but that usually means that they’re getting calls and they’ll listen, depending on what it is.
“Look, they want to make the playoffs. They are in it to make the playoffs, from the owner on down, they want to make the playoffs. There’s a lot on the line there. And the other night in Vancouver, a game of mortal significance for them, he played six minutes. And after it was over, Hitchcock said he didn’t like his board work.
“Now look, I think there are people in that organization who say, ‘We have to be patient with this guy. We can’t give up on him too quickly. He’s a big body. The Western Conference, you need big bodies, and we can’t give up on him too soon.’
“But I see what’s going on there. We all see what’s going on there. They’re doing anything they can to make the playoffs. Is it out of the realm of possibility that they see something there they want, they’re told that’s the price, and they take the plunge? No it isn’t. But it’s no guarantee.
“They’ll try some other things. They’ve got a first-rounder. Maybe they’ll think of moving that with some protection on for a really high pick. But teams are going to ask them about Puljujarvi, and we’ll see what they decide to do.”
Friedman was asked if the Oilers would be more loathe to trade Puljujarvi or that 2019 first-round pick.
“First of all, this isn’t - at the top - seen as a high draft as some of the other ones,” noted Friedman. “And also, you can always protect it, right. Now, I don’t know if they’ll get Top-10 protection because they could finish there, so I’m not sure that’s going to work. But maybe they can say, ‘If it’s a Top-2 or a Top-3, we defer it until next year.’
“Now, the Oilers thought they were going to be better this year and they’ve really struggled. So I think you’re taking a risk, but if you can get protection for the top of the draft - maybe the top three picks - I think there are people who would say that’s a wise decision because the draft this year is not seen as deep or strong as some of the other ones we’ve seen recently.”
Puljujarvi is in the final season of his entry-level contract.
Contract-related info via CapFriendly