Our third overall pick is Finnish right wing Jesse Puljujarvi.
True story: I was at a family function today and my first-cousin-once-removed (whom we’ve all been referring to as our second cousin all these years, but learned how it all works last night) got her DNA analyzed and found out she’s part Finnish. Sarcastically, she remarked, “Who the hell is Finnish?!”. You know who’s Finnish? Jesse Motherfuckin’ Puljujarvi, that’s who.
Let me show you the dance of my people! Suomiiiiii!
Puljujarvi has an exceedingly hard name to type. He also has a big frame, at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds. He uses his size to his advantage to win battles with his ability to outmuscle guys, but he’s not much of a physical player otherwise.
Puljujarvi and fellow countryman Patrik Laine are neck-and-neck in the race to see who gets drafted after Auston Matthews. Laine may have “sniper with elite skills” written all over him, but by some accounts, Puljujarvi, who is more of a playmaker, is by far the more consistent player. Finishing with an other-worldly 17 points in 7 games, Puljujarvi led Finland to World Junior gold with a fantastic performance in this year’s tournament. He was awarded tournament MVP, was (obviously) named best forward, and also made the tournament all star team, because a gold medal clearly wasn’t enough.
Daddy, I want a goose that lays golden eggs!
Puljujarvi played this past season for Kärpät, in Finland’s top men’s league, SM-Liiga. Playing against men, he was able to notch 28 points, which is a pretty solid number for a 17 year old. In the playoffs, however, Puljujarvi turned it on, and produced 4 goals and 5 assists for 9 points in 10 games. It seems Puljujarvi has a penchant for playing well when it matters.
His skating is excellent, with good speed, and impressive agility. Strong on the puck, he has no problem pushing his way through opposing players and dancing his way through traffic to get to the net, or wherever he feels he needs to be to make a play happen. His shot is reasonably good, though Puljujarvi is first and foremost a playmaker. Positioning is not a problem in any zone for Puljujarvi, and he’s defensively responsible. He clogs up shooting lanes, wins battles on the backcheck, and is not afraid to block shots.
A wonderful passer, Puljujarvi is brilliant on the power play, and given his defensive ability, he can kill penalties as well.
Laine is the more attractive of the two because snipers are exciting and everyone loves pretty goals, but Puljujarvi has top flight talent and could easily be a first line wing in the NHL, maybe even a franchise player. I wouldn’t be shocked if Puljujarvi is picked second over Laine, as he’s very close to NHL ready, and game in and game out, he’s the same player: consistency is his cup of tea.
Twitter, because all the opinions on there are so great:
I’m convinced Calgary will try to get to No. 3 to draft Puljujarvi and would probably take a contract back to do it. https://t.co/8CDuTMJrbQ
— Eric Duhatschek (@eduhatschek) June 21, 2016
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) June 21, 2016
Have yet to find a scout who has anyone other than Matthews, Laine and Puljujarvi in their top 3. Order may vary: https://t.co/DIUCmmJvvk
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 21, 2016
Scouts rate Jesse Puljujarvi as the upcoming No. 3 pick. The numbers suggest otherwise. https://t.co/qETKUIoKo9
— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) June 19, 2016
— Jared (@JxredNHL) June 10, 2016