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Puljujarvi of Oilers signs contract in Finland with opt-out clause

Restricted free agent forward could return to NHL by Dec. 1; Edmonton 'not quite there' on trade

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Jesse Puljujarvi, a restricted free agent with the Edmonton Oilers, on Tuesday signed a one-year contract with Karpat in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland.

The agreement includes an option that would allow the 21-year-old forward to return to the NHL by Dec. 1. A restricted free agent not signed by 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 1 is ineligible to play in the NHL that season.

Ken Holland, who was hired as Oilers general manager May 7 after 22 seasons as GM of the Detroit Red Wings, told NHL.com he's talked to teams about a trade for Puljujarvi but is not close to making one.

"Am I talking to teams as we go? Yeah. I have a pretty clear thought in my own mind what I'd like if I was going to move him, philosophically how a deal would go down," Holland said. "I'm open to a couple of different ways. I've had some good talks, a couple of conversations with teams that have intrigued me, but ultimately, it's not quite there."

Puljujarvi, selected by Edmonton with the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, had nine points (four goals, five assists) in 46 games for the Oilers last season before having season-ending hip surgery Feb. 28. He has 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) in 139 NHL games.

"My body feels good, and I'm in good health," Puljujarvi said. "It feels great to be back in Oulu and with Kärpät and help the team."

Video: NHL Tonight on Puljujarvi signing in Finland

Holland said he was optimistic he and new coach Dave Tippett, who was hired May 28, could've helped Puljujarvi change his mind about leaving Edmonton.

"I was certainly hoping that coming here and being in charge, and with a new coach, and that we'd made some changes and Jesse would have maybe had a bit of a different thought about things given where he was at when the season was over," Holland said. "But nothing has really changed.

"I called [his agent] Markus Lehto [in late July] and talked to him at length, and he told us to feel free to call Jesse but that he had had multiple conversations with Jesse and said Jesse really feels strongly about his position. They, Jesse and Markus, the agent, they feel very strongly about wanting to move on."

Holland said he would not guarantee trading Puljujarvi by Dec. 1, adding he thinks it's a good thing he will be playing overseas.

"And I'm not worried about a time frame. We have until Nov. 30 for him to play hockey (in the NHL) this year. I think it's always tough for any player to miss all of NHL training camp, to be sitting around and just skating on your own, and then try to get up and running," Holland said. "For Jesse, when and if he comes back to the NHL in the '19-20 season, it's going to be easier to get up and running quicker if he's playing on a team and practicing every day and playing on a regular basis."

Edmonton (35-38-9), which finished 11 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference last season, has missed the playoffs in 12 of the past 13 seasons.

NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report

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