Colorado Avalanche Draft Preview: Jesse Puljujärvi

Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic announces Conner Bleackley (not pictured) as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic announces Conner Bleackley (not pictured) as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Colorado Avalanche have a possible outside shot at Jesse Puljujärvi in the upcoming draft. Let’s take a second to get to know the widely regarded 3rd pick of the 2016 NHL draft.

Today I get to do my third(!) draft post because some other unnamed writers aren’t carrying their weight (and I volunteered). Either way I’m excited to write about possibly my favorite prospect from the upcoming draft in Jesse Puljujärvi. I already have copied his name so I don’t have to figure out how to spell it while writing. It’s going to be fun.

Puljujärvi is pretty much universally accepted to go third over all behind Austin Matthews and Patrik Laine. He’s a big, skilled player who skates well and works hard, he lacks the cannon of a shot that Laine has, but has great passing abilities to make up for it.

Perhaps most importantly, he seems like a nice guy and he looks like a movie character that I just can’t put my finger on; possibly Ralph from Wreck It Ralph. (Will update if I can figure out who I’m thinking of.)

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The Stats

Position: Right Wing

Shoots: Right

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 201 pounds

Age: 18

Minor Team: Karpat Liiga

NHL Player Most Like: A hybrid between Joe Thorton, Evgeni Malkin, and possible some Tom Wilson thrown in.

Jesse Puljujärvi played in Liiga this year (the same league Patrik Laine played in) so he was playing against good competition (much like Rantanen was). Also it gives us the opportunity to compare stats because I sure as hell don’t know anything about Liiga except it has a sweet name.

So Puljujärvi put up 28 points in 50 games during the regular season, not bad but certainly not comparable to Patrik Laine’s 33 points in 46 games (Rantanen had 28 points in 56 games for reference). However, Puljujärvi turned it up in the playoffs with 9 points in 10 games, but his team was knocked out by Laine’s.

More from Mile High Sticking

Anyway, the numbers are there but certainly aren’t mind blowing. It’s a little harder to judge what points are worth in the foreign leagues because even though they are playing against men — instead of all kids in juniors or college — the quality of skill has a much wider range in the leagues.

Elite prospects is just in love with him:

"A truly dominant two-way force that consistently demonstrates elite hockey sense, proactive defensive awareness, and a full array of offensive tools. Comparable to Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, Puljujärvi owns a dangerously accurate shot, as well as exceptional playmaking ability that pairs up quite nicely with his superb vision and enthusiasm. Has the ability to absolutely dominate by using his size and speed to keep possession of the puck until he determines it to be the right time for the rubber to hit the back of the net. Everything that he does, he does well, to the fullest of his ability; there are no empty holes in this electrifying and hard-nosed forward’s game"

There is another short paragraph that does say his shot could use some work and he is more of a playmaker then a goalscorer. Either way, the world is pretty high on this kid.

Video Fun Time

Whew, so the boy can skate. But you can easily see why Elite Prospects didn’t think he qualified as a scorer: many great opportunities that he just fails to find the back of the net on. Even on his goals a lot of them are sneaky plays as opposed to letting shots rip as is Patrik Laine’s style.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the video is his vision and anticipation. Yes it’s cool when the videos show guys dangling through defenders, but it’s more impressive from a practical standpoint when your guy is seemingly always alone. This means A: he has the hockey IQ to find open ice (an absolutely priceless skill) and B. he has the mobility to get to the open ice and then keep open.

If he ever wants to become a true scorer in the league he’s going to have to learn to put away some of those golden opportunities. Other then that there is a lot of upside here.

Next: Comparing The Avs and Oilers

Conclusion

The Avalanche do have a slight chance at Puljujärvi if they trade up to the Oilers spot and he falls down one slot from where he is expected to. However, I don’t expect either of those things to happen, which is a shame because out of the 3 prospects I’ve profiled Puljujärvi is by far the one I’d most want on the Colorado Avalanche in terms of style. He’s smart, he works hard, and plays both ends of the ice. The points may never come in boatloads, but I have feeling wins will for him.