RW Jesse Puljujärvi
by Steve Kournianos
17 December 2015
The Draft Analyst Ranking:
Position: Right Wing
Height/Weight: 6’3 200 lbs
Born: May 7th, 1998, Älvkarleby, Sweden
Obtained: Signed a three-year contract with Karpat in May, 2014
Notes: 2015-16: Registered five goals and two assists in four games as Finland won the 2016 IIHF under-18 world championship…Named Most Valuable Player of the world junior championship after he led Finland to the gold medal with 17 points (5g, 12a)…His 17 points ranks second behind Jaromir Jagr (and tied with Wayne Gretzky and Eric Lindros) for the most points in a single WJC tournament by a player under 18 years old…Helped Karpat to a bronze medal finish in the Liiga playoffs with nine points in 10 games…His 0.90 points-per-game postseason average was fourth among all players who played in five games or more…His 28 points in 50 regular season games was fifth best among Liiga players under 20 years of age…Scored two power play goals in three games to help Finland sweep the November Under-20 Four Nations Tournament, held in Tampere, Finland…Appeared in all 10 of Karpat’s games in the Champions Hockey League, picking up one assist…2014-15: Notched two goals and five assists in seven games as Finland earned a Silver medal at the 2015 Under-18 World Championship in Lucerne, Switzerland…tallied four goals and seven assists in 21 games as a rookie for Karpat in the Finnish Liiga…named to Team Finland’s 2015 WJC squad as a 16 year old, where he was held without a point but fired a team-high 26 shots in five games…finished fourth in team scoring with three goals and two assists in five games at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup…Played in three games for Karpat without a point in the 2014 Champions Hockey League
Last year, when a 16-year-old Jesse Puljujarvi appeared for Team Finland at the 2015 World Junior Championship, the hockey world was still trying to figure out how good this kid really was. Although stifled by bigger, more mature netminding, the electrifying Finn became one of the few bright spots in what was an underwhelming performance by the Finnish collective. Puljujarvi used his power-speed combo to consistently catch defenders flat footed, but his lack of finish made you wonder if he was deserving of being called one of the 2016 draft’s top prospects. Now, the question shouldn’t be considered, as he earns top-six minutes on Karpat’s senior team, and with fellow Finnish stud Patrik Laine presents one of the draft’s top two goal-scoring wingers. Puljujarvi is a strong, powerful forward with an outstanding burst of speed and first step. He is tremendous at sniffing out opportunities before they happen, and once the puck finds some freedom, he collects it while in full flight in what seems like a millisecond.
Puljujarvi is an extremely dangerous player who can be used in any situation, and being 6’3 doesn’t hinder his ability to adapt to a variety of situations; he can play on the power play, kill penalties, take a man out with a hit or cleanly stickhandle in very tight spaces. He owns an excellent shot, only it’s slightly less accurate than the sharpshooting Laine. Puljujarvi’s at his best when he’s got the puck in full flight, but that doesn’t mean he’s rendered useless during the slogging matches. He’s really mature and has a genuine “die hard” mentality. Even more impressive is that he rarely, if ever, gets complacent. Struggle he most certainly has, but the effort is never in question. We view him as an elite power forward with star potential, and quite possibly the best Finnish prospect in almost 30 years. His somewhat marginal production in the men’s league is misleading; he’s one of Karpat’s most productive forwards in terms of generating shots, and a post-WJC spike should be expected in spite of a recent drop in ice time.