Jesse Puljujarvi's resume is impressive, to say the least. The big winger played in Finland's top pro league and had remarkable success. He led Finland to gold medals at both the World U18s, and World Junior Championships. In most other years, he'd be in the discussion to go first overall. Instead, thanks to the amazing years by both Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, Puljujarvi heads into the Draft as the consensus third overall pick. But just because he's third this year, doesn't mean he's not a special talent. Here's a look at why Puljujarvi is such a special talent.
Player: Jesse Puljujarvi
Position: Right Wing
Height: 6'3" Weight: 201 lbs.
Stats: 50 games, 13 goals, 15 assists, 28 points, +5
Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 3rd among European skaters
What I Like:
Puljujarvi is a strong, effortless skater. He's the type of player that doesn't look like he's working that hard or moving that fast, but he's really flying because of his powerful stride.
-Shiftiness with the Puck
His effortless speed frees up his upper body to make a variety of fakes and change angles with the puck. In this clip, he breaks the ankles of an opposing defenseman with a quick fake.
Puljujarvi sees the ice really well, and shows the ability to think one step ahead of the play. In this first clip, he sees the defenseman commit to him and without hesitation, is able to get the puck back to his teammate for a Grade-A scoring chance.
In this second clip, not only does Puljujarvi make a quick pass into the slot, but when that doesn't work, he already knows where Plan B is and makes a quick cross-ice pass to create an open shot.
Puljujarvi can really handle the puck and when he has time and space, he can make the other team look absolutely silly. These goals just aren't fair.
Puljujarvi's strength allows him to really lean into his snap shot, making him a scoring threat from distance.
What I Don't Like:
We're talking about a top-three draft pick here, and a guy that in certain years, would probably go first overall. There's not a lot of negatives here besides small nitpicks, and for any negative you might find, they are far outweighed by the enormous positives.
If I had to pick something, Puljujarvi didn't always play a 200-foot game at the World U18s, dogging it on a number of backchecks. I suspect that is something that will be easily corrected at the NHL level though.
Puljujarvi is almost a lock to go third overall to Columbus. There will be some talk as we get closer to the Draft about Winnipeg taking Puljujarvi second over Patrik Laine, and there will be some talk about Columbus taking a different forward--likely Pierre-Luc Dubois, who has the added versatility of playing center--with the third pick over Puljujarvi, but when the dust settles and a decision has to be made, I really think Puljujarvi will end up in Columbus. This is a good year to be drafting third overall.
Puljujarvi is a top line scoring winger, and the type of piece you can start to build an offense around. He's got potential to make an NHL roster next season, and within a few years, be a top scorer in the league.