The Penguins have added a big winger and a big name on a tryout basis. Jesse Puljujarvi, the fourth overall pick back in 2016, is joining Pittsburgh on a tryout as he works back from an off-season hip surgery.
Puljujarvi has been a polarizing player- he has all the tools from a physical standpoint in terms of size and amazing skating ability. But his hands betray him in the offensive zone when it comes time to shoot or set up a teammate.
Jesse Puljujarvi, signed to a PTO by PIT, is a two-way forechecking winger whose above-average speed and size is counter-acted by a total lack of finishing touch and passing ability. #LetsGoPens pic.twitter.com/3uleWJtTIN— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) December 10, 2023
When healthy, Puljujarvi could add elements to a team in the neutral zone while also simultaneously frustrating coaches and fans alike by not truly living up to all the potential that seems just out of his grasps. In some ways, he’s not completely unlike Zach Aston-Reese, if Aston-Reese was 6’4”, could skate like the wind and was drafted fourth overall.
Puljujarvi never got on track with Edmonton, and thought was a subject of frequent trade rumors stayed with the Oilers from 2016-23. He was traded to Carolina for a mid-level prospect and failed to get any traction with that organization either, scoring no goals and adding two assists in 17 regular season games before being shuffled out towards irrelevancy in the playoffs.
At that point, his double hip injury was too much to be effective but has been addressed with a surgery. At only 25, Puljujarvi was looking for a place to revive his NHL career. In Pittsburgh, he’ll presumably get the chance if he shows that he’s recovered enough to be healthy and add something to the team. The Pens have been searching for more help up front in supporting roles, and Puljujarvi represents a no-risk opportunity to potentially get some level of reward in the best case scenario.