Two of the brightest young stars in hockey today aren’t even in the NHL. Jesse Puljujarvi of the Edmonton Oilers and Lias Andersson of the New York Rangers both have something in common- a grievance with their NHL clubs.
Jesse Puljujarvi is a 22-year-old former 4th overall draft pick in 2016 by the Oilers and has 139 games of NHL experience under his belt. He spent all three of his seasons in North America split between the NHL and AHL, playing in 53 games for the Bakersfield Condors. The Oilers extended a qualifying offer to Puljujarvi to keep his rights despite his confirmed return to Karpat of the Finnish Liiga. His return to Finland was great, as he posted 24 goals and 53 points in 56 games for Karpat.
Lias Andersson is 21-years-old and a former 7th overall pick in 2017 by the New York Rangers. He made his NHL debut late in the 2017-18 season and, after starting the 2018-19 season in the AHL, returned to the NHL on a near full-time basis in November of 2018. He’s got 66 games of NHL experience under his belt with only three goals and nine points to show for it. Andersson faired only slightly better in the AHL, posting 15 goals and 39 points in 74 games. He was loaned to the HV71 of the SHL in mid-November of the 2019-20 season after only registering a single assist through the team’s first 17 games.
Andersson made it clear he would not return to the Rangers once the 2020 playoffs start, and Puljujarvi just signed a one-year extension with Karpat, leaving both of their futures in limbo. It seems like the only way either player stands a chance at an NHL return is a fresh start with a new team.
Even coming up with accurate trade scenarios is difficult. On one hand, the Oilers and Rangers don’t exactly have a ton of negotiating power in a trade. Two once-highly touted draft picks who haven’t tasted success at the NHL level and refuse to play for the team that drafted them. On the other hand, they were high draft picks and could still potentially flourish in the NHL if utilized properly. Even from a buyers perspective, giving up a quality return for a crapshoot gamble doesn’t make too much sense.
As the youthful Flyers core continues to develop, adding another potential young gun to that mix could keep the team competitive for years to come, but is it really smart to give up a top propsect of their own to make it happen? Not really.
Maybe pairing a high draft pick with a mediocre prospect could get the job done. A second round pick and a prospect like German Rubtsov could entice the Rangers or Oilers to part with one of the young holdouts.
Do the Flyers gamble? Probably not. In fact, it’s been theorized that the best case scenario for both teams is a trade between them. Andersson to Edmonton and Puljujarvi to New York. It actually seems like the most reasonable result for a limited outcome situation. For all we know, neither may return to North America again. Maybe it’s best to let the Oilers and Rangers work out their own issues with this one.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: coppernblue.com/nypost.com