Rantanen would welcome Oilers' Puljujarvi to Avalanche "with open arms"

Feb 23 2023, 8:10 pm

Put Colorado Avalanche right winger Mikko Rantanen in the Jesse Puljujarvi fan club.

Rantanen said he’d welcome the addition of the fellow Finnish forward should the Avalanche find a way to swing a deal for the struggling 24-year-old in advance of the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.

“Listen, I’ve been thinking the exact same thing,” Rantanen said on the Finnish podcast Total NHL Forever earlier this week.

“I know what a great guy Jesse is. I would welcome him with open arms. It would be a fresh, new start for him here with a good dressing room and support around him. I believe it would definitely work.

“Earlier this year, when we were in Edmonton, Jesse and I went out to eat together. He’s a really good guy and a good friend. A nice and fun guy.”

The pair have been teammates in the past.

Each represented Finland at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship and again at the 2016 World Juniors. They teamed up at the 2017 IIHF World Championship, too.

Puljujarvi has been a constant subject of rumour mills this season after continually struggling to live up to the expectations set for the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The 6’4″, 201-pound winger has just 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 55 games for the Oilers this season and is a pending restricted free agent whose one-year, $3 million contract expires at the end of the season.

It’s been speculated the Oilers would trade, or potentially even waive, Puljujarvi in order to create more flexibility heading into the deadline on March 3.

A report last week suggested Edmonton could also look at extending him.

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic has a history of digging into a player’s history before making an acquisition. Rantanen told a tale of Sakic’s inquisition prior to acquiring Artturi Lehkonen from the Montreal Canadiens at last year’s trade deadline.

“Our management wants to know exactly what kind of person he is. Does he fit in? I know that Sakic has been very meticulous about what kind of person someone is off the ice,” Rantanen said.

“It seems that it has had a big impact on our leadership. We don’t just take anyone just because they can play if they don’t fit in with our locker room and culture.”

It remains to be seen whether the Oilers and Avalanche would be willing trade partners, however.

Edmonton, who holds the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, is sixth in the West with a 31-19-8 record for 70 points and a .603 points percentage. Colorado, third in the Central Division, ranks seventh in the West with a 31-19-5 mark for 67 points, though their .609 points percentage tops that of the Oilers.

Aaron VickersAaron Vickers

+ Offside
+ Hockey
+ Oilers