Edmonton did the expected on Wednesday, agreeing to a three-year, entry-level deal with first-round draft pick Jesse Puljujarvi.
And with that, the pressure begins.
Not long after taking Puljujarvi fourth overall in Buffalo, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli traded away a coveted young asset in Taylor Hall — who, like Puljujarvi, also plays the wing.
So, did that factor into the decision to trade Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson?
Remember, the 18-year-old Finn wasn’t supposed to be available to Edmonton at No. 4. For the months leading up to the draft, Puljujarvi — the reigning world juniors MVP — was part of the “big three” along with countryman Patrik Laine and No. 1 overall selection Auston Matthews.
The “big three” designation was a result of the trio being a cut above the rest of the draft class, and all expected to play in the NHL next season. But on draft night, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen flipped the script, opting to land a potential No. 1 center in Pierre-Luc Dubois with the third overall selection.
That paved the way for Chiarelli to select Puljujarvi, who now has a very good chance of playing a top-six forward role in his rookie campaign, possibly alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Leon Draisaitl.