Bring Back The Electric Norseman!

Jonathan Willis
February 07 2011 01:29PM

Once again, Patrick Thoresen wants to return to the NHL. He tried to land an NHL job last year and was unsuccessful after a spectacular KHL season, so this year he went out and had a more spectacular KHL season. This is a guy who deserves another crack at an NHL job.

Normally, for a player like this who was a defensive specialist the last time he played in the NHL, I’d be busting out the advanced statistics. For Thoresen, I don’t need to (although his are superb); I watched nearly every game he played as a member of the Edmonton Oilers. Defensively, his positioning was as good as any player on the team. He never backed down from a physical battle, he forechecked like a demon, and there could never be any doubt about his work ethic or intensity. Aside from his size, he was the kind of fourth-liner every coach dreams of.

Thoresen’s problem at the NHL level was producing offence. At 17, he came over to the QMJHL and spent two seasons playing major junior hockey in Canada, scoring 73 points in 60 games as a rookie and following that up with 108 points in 71 games the year after. Along the way he was stellar for Norway’s U-18 and U-20 international teams. He went over to Sweden, starting in the Allsvenskan before moving up to the Swedish Elite League for two seasons. In his second year he scored 36 points in 50 games, which was enough to convince the Edmonton Oilers to bring him over and give him a shot at an NHL job.

Thoresen produced relatively well at the AHL level, but managed only six goals and 24 points in a little over 100 games in the NHL. After two seasons, he couldn’t get another NHL job and was forced over to the KHL.

Thoresen’s been a revelation in the KHL. In 107 points in the world’s second-best league, he’s scored 51 times (remarkably, 42 of those goals came at even-strength) and added 66 helpers for a total of 117 points. Along the way, he went plus-63. He’s turned into a faceoff-winning machine over there; with a 55.2% success rate on 754 face-offs. He’s playing in all situations, and finished with a little under 18:00 per game this last season. He’s also been a staple for international Norwegian teams, managing a point per game at last year’s World Championships and five assists in four Olympic games in 2010.

Despite all the success Thoresen has had in the KHL, that’s not where he wants to be. In May of last season, Thoresen explained why he’d be willing to take a massive pay-cut to return to the NHL:

“I know I can score 20-25 goals in the NHL. If so, I’m going to earn the lost money and play in the NHL for many years. I have faith in myself and know what kind of potential I have.”

At 27 years of age, Thoresen’s been a bit of a late-bloomer offensively but he’s still a young man. He’s shown drive, grit and defensive responsibility at the NHL level before. His scoring has shot off the charts since his jump to the KHL, and could represent a major step forward from his last stint in North America. He’s added faceoff ability to his repertoire. Beyond that, all it will take to get him over here is a one-way deal near the league minimum.

This seems to me like a no-brainer. It’s time for someone to take a chance and bring back the Electric Norseman.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 Dodd
February 07 2011, 01:36PM
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Do we really need another "kind of" exciting forward?

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#2 Harlie
February 07 2011, 01:39PM
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this guy was the original Reddox 1.0. No need for him at this point I'm afraid.

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#3 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
February 07 2011, 01:44PM
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I don't think loading up on 3rd and 4th liners is going to help much.

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#4 baggedmilk
February 07 2011, 01:45PM
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The Oilers should definitely give a small plugger like Thoresen another chance while making Paajarvi sit another year. Makes sense. Thus concludes another episode of Willis-logic 2011.

*face palm*

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#5 John Chambers
February 07 2011, 01:47PM
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I don't know, Willis. If Patrick O'Sullivan scores at a point-a-game pace in the KHL next season, does he deserve another look as well?

Who does Thoresen play for in the KHL? Are they a good team, or does he get lots of pp time on a bad team? Can you offer any Desjardins equivalencies or whatever to support your argument?

Journalistically, it would seem more prudent to offer up the idea that we may very well see Thoresen return to the NHL soon, and avoid making statements such as "This guy deserves another crack at an NHL job", or "This seems to me like a no-brainer".

Really? You are literally suggesting that all 30 NHL GM's are behaving irrationally by not signing this guy. That's a bold argument.

Thoresen may have improved as a player and may deserve another NHL shot, but with all due respect you're a much more intersting read when you cite facts as opposed to sensationalizing your point of view.

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#6 The Towel Boy
February 07 2011, 01:47PM
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Always thought he was a great player. Not to mention he took a shot in the sack when he was in Philly. Ouch.

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#7 NastyNate
February 07 2011, 01:50PM
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I don't JW is suggesting the oilers should sign him. I believe he is suggesting his talents could be put to use by a plethera of NHL teams. I remember his preformance for Flyers in the playoffs a few years ago and liked what i saw. Is there any chance of him being released by the KHL, this season, to join a NHL team for the playoff run?

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#8 SumOil
February 07 2011, 01:50PM
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wow...that is actually impressive. As far as I remember, when he left for the Khl, he had a contract with Philadelphia, so is he obligated to play for them when he comes back or will he be a FA?

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#10 baggedmilk
February 07 2011, 01:55PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ baggedmilk:

Well, thank goodness Paajarvi made the jump this year. Can you imagine where the Oilers would be if he'd spent a season playing top-line EV, PP, and PK in another league rather than helping out the NHL team?

Gosh, I mean the Oilers might be in 31st or 32nd! Maybe even worse!

You're right, he could have spent another year playing the European game rather than getting used to the NHL. THAT WAY we could have watched him struggle with the same things as a 20 year old rather than as a 19 year old. Oh those would have been good times there.

On next week's episode of Willis-watch 2011, why Marc Pouliot's AHL numbers should land him back with the Oilers.

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#12 Zamboni Driver
February 07 2011, 02:01PM
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I'd actually just like to point out that nowhere in his piece does JW suggest the Oilers should bring him back, just that he deserves a shot.

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#14 Harlie
February 07 2011, 02:06PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

I'd actually just like to point out that nowhere in his piece does JW suggest the Oilers should bring him back, just that he deserves a shot.

uhh...the TITLE of the article says "Bring Back..."

That pretty much says that the Oilers should bring him back. And the article supports that.

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#16 NastyNate
February 07 2011, 02:11PM
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@Harlie

I don't know what "pretty much" implies. Your arguement is "pretty much" based upon assumptions. Why not just ask JW? were you suggesting the oilers should sign him? Or any NHL franchise in general?

Problem solved you bully....

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#17 jdrevenge
February 07 2011, 02:15PM
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Lolol. Give the guy a break. I'm with Willis in that SOMEONE should give Thor Jr. a shot. I don't think it'll be in Edmonton as he's another smallish FW but.... his stats warrant another crack.

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#18 Ales Hallsky
February 07 2011, 02:24PM
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All I see is 55% in the circle.

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#19 baggedmilk
February 07 2011, 02:26PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Oh how silly of me, naturally I should have compared Magnus Paajarvi coming to Edmonton as a 19-year old to the development of two potential Hall of Famers. My mistake. Oh and no pressure Maggie.

But while we're at it, aren't the Canucks stupid for bringing the Sedins over as 19-year olds? They might have developped into great players had they only stayed in Sweden a little while longer.

Please.

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#20 Bucknuck
February 07 2011, 02:26PM
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i wish we could find a guy like Thoreson with some size. Even though Thor is small I would still love to see him get a shot here, and he would probably be an upgrade on anyone who is cycling into our fourth line. I would love to watch him in an oil uniform, since he is pretty gritty and can actually win a faceoff.

Guys who play a tenacious style can be on my version of the Oil every day. Sometimes it's the size of the fight in the dog, but you also need some big dogs. If the Oil trade Hemsky I hope they get some good size when they do.

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#21 Harlie
February 07 2011, 02:27PM
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@NastyNate

what in the hell are you blathering about? And I don't give a rat's A double S about Thoreson and I already stated that I don't want him back. Why don't you learn how to read before you go spouting off? Idiot.

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#22 OilBro
February 07 2011, 02:31PM
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Jeez, BaggedMilk is bitter. Don't get all emotional over the fact Willis' IQ is superior to yours, bud.

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#23 Horcsky
February 07 2011, 02:32PM
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I know I'd rather have Patrick Thoresan than Colin Fraser, or Steve Macintyre (based solely on the fact that the coach refuses to play big Mac). He's probably also better than JF Jacques and Ryan O'Marra.

Not sure what's with the outrage. It's not like you sit Magnus if Thoresan comes back.

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#26 Ales Hallsky
February 07 2011, 02:35PM
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@Jonathan Willis

All the most recent champs have had a token euro or two. It helps in the "creativity factor".

Whats with all the hate today?

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#27 John Chambers
February 07 2011, 02:38PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ baggedmilk:

Right, because than Paajarvi would once again be one of three rookies trying to break into the big league, and once again Tom Renney would give him the lousy linemates in order to prioritize 2011-12's equivalents of Hall and Eberle.

Lord knows, no player has ever polished their overall game in Europe and showed up in the NHL almost fully-formed.

And while we're at it, saying that Thoresen ought to get an NHL job on the fourth line as a replacement for Jacques, Reddox, Stortini, MacIntyre, or Fraser is totally the same as saying he ought to get Paajarvi's spot. Absolutely the same.

I think what generally irritates me about this article and your banter with BM is that you state your opinion as if it's fact.

At the end of the day, even though you disagree with BM about whether or not Paajarvi should have played in the SEL, or whether Patrick Thoresen will win the Art Ross trophy in '11-'12, you're not in an "expert" position to make such bold statements, and therefore should refrain from doing so.

Good journalism is about proposing an idea, supporting the idea, and allowing people to think. Stop telling us how to think. Given that this is an "opinion" piece, be prepared to defend your opinion rather than getting defensive, because people will always disagree with you. After all, didn't you recently write an article about how much you dislike player haters? Stop stoking the fire.

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#28 Spydyr
February 07 2011, 02:43PM
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Why not bring him back for a look see at training camp.That is the time. He is still under contract? No? He might surprise and turn into another Jones. If not what have you gave up....that is right nothing.

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#29 baggedmilk
February 07 2011, 02:44PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Obviously, I said I hate having Europeans on the team. It must have been somewhere in the my past three posts I spent defending a Swede. Congratulations, you have successfully stomped your feet and ran to your room.

I'll wait here for the bedroom door to slam. Do you have your ears plugged? I might be speaking.

NA NA NA NA NANANANA

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#30 freeze
February 07 2011, 02:45PM
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reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan) wrote:

I don't think loading up on 3rd and 4th liners is going to help much.

In fairness, that is what people said about Omark. "yeah, like we need another small winger." Not saying Thor will turn heads like Omark but he might give guys like Jones or Brule a run for their money.

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#31 Ender
February 07 2011, 02:53PM
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Stating my opinion (so as everyone can clearly see it is such and not ride me), the last six months of going over Thor's numbers in depth have really made me want to see him back in Edmonton. Yeah, he's a smaller forward and I get that they haven't done a ton for us. I don't care; the guy's numbers are solid. I also get that those numbers are primarily from the KHL and that you need to do an adjustment for quality of comp, but I still believe he'll do well when he comes back. I'd like it to be for us.

JW, I'm not afraid to call you out if you're hopeless in an article, but I don't think this is a bad idea at all. I'm on board and have been for awhile.

Thor: Coming 2011 to a venue near you. Check your local listings.

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#32 common sense
February 07 2011, 02:56PM
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Pretty impressive KHL numbers. I would hope that Tambo has some scouts looking at this kid because this team should scour the earth and leave no stone unturned for hockey talent, even retread Oiler talent. Tambellini are you listening???

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#33 Jamie B.
February 07 2011, 02:56PM
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freeze wrote:

In fairness, that is what people said about Omark. "yeah, like we need another small winger." Not saying Thor will turn heads like Omark but he might give guys like Jones or Brule a run for their money.

No. No, he won't. You know how we know that? Because we watched him play 80 games here already, on a way better team than the one the Oilers are icing today, including an extremely painful stretch in 06-07 when Hemsky was out and Thoresen was playing on a higher line than he should have been and didn't score a goal for about 40 games in a row. (Note: may be an exaggeration but not by much.)

All the love in the world to Thor, it'd be great if some other team had a spot for him, but there are a lot of guys like Thoresen out there, yes, even the ones willing to literally put their balls on the line for the team. The Oilers have one, his name is Liam Reddox.

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#34 Dman09
February 07 2011, 03:05PM
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First off, if any of you have an issue with the article DON'T READ IT AND PISS OFF SOMEWHERE ELSE. Hassling a guy because he wrote an article that happened to have his opinion in it is like bitching about your hot chocolate being too hot, find a corner and shoot yourself.

Now to the article:

I liked the article and in all honesty I would be willing to switch out either Brule Or Cogs to see what Thor's got. If he can win faceoffs better than cogs, then by all means he deserves the job. They are similar players so I see no problem with considering it. Cogs could turn some value at trade deadline even if is a draft pick.

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#35 Captain Obvious
February 07 2011, 03:06PM
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John Chambers wrote:

I think what generally irritates me about this article and your banter with BM is that you state your opinion as if it's fact.

At the end of the day, even though you disagree with BM about whether or not Paajarvi should have played in the SEL, or whether Patrick Thoresen will win the Art Ross trophy in '11-'12, you're not in an "expert" position to make such bold statements, and therefore should refrain from doing so.

Good journalism is about proposing an idea, supporting the idea, and allowing people to think. Stop telling us how to think. Given that this is an "opinion" piece, be prepared to defend your opinion rather than getting defensive, because people will always disagree with you. After all, didn't you recently write an article about how much you dislike player haters? Stop stoking the fire.

Is there any evidence that you, or any of the other automata here, are capable of thought?

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#36 John Chambers
February 07 2011, 03:08PM
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Dman09 wrote:

First off, if any of you have an issue with the article DON'T READ IT AND PISS OFF SOMEWHERE ELSE. Hassling a guy because he wrote an article that happened to have his opinion in it is like bitching about your hot chocolate being too hot, find a corner and shoot yourself.

Now to the article:

I liked the article and in all honesty I would be willing to switch out either Brule Or Cogs to see what Thor's got. If he can win faceoffs better than cogs, then by all means he deserves the job. They are similar players so I see no problem with considering it. Cogs could turn some value at trade deadline even if is a draft pick.

I'm sorry. Is this not a reasonable forum for debate? Was I not nice enough when I described what I found awkward about the article?

Is it more polite to go tell somebody to shoot themselves?

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#37 John Chambers
February 07 2011, 03:10PM
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@Captain Obvious

Seeing as how you just suggested that this is a forum for idiots, you must feel right at home.

Edit: au·tom·a·ton (ô-tm-tn, -tn) n. pl. au·tom·a·tons or au·tom·a·ta (-t) 1. A self-operating machine or mechanism, especially a robot. 2. One that behaves or responds in a mechanical way.

Doesn't questioning the logic of an article make one the antithesis of an automaton?

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#38 Ender
February 07 2011, 03:12PM
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@Jamie B.

@Harlie

Jamie, I hear what you're saying, and it's an ok point to make. I also want you to know I'm a Reddox fan, so I mean absolutely no disrespect to Rudy when I say this:

In his wildest fantasies, Reddox is not capable of being the second-best player in the KHL. Reddox is a good soldier, but Thor is a better one.

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#39 Mike Krushelnyski
February 07 2011, 03:18PM
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@Captain Obvious

It's true, we are all sheep that believe the tripe the media sells us, like the ridiculous notion that Malkin is better than Hemsky. Thank goodness you are here to save us from ourselves.

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#40 Dman09
February 07 2011, 03:19PM
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John Chambers wrote:

I'm sorry. Is this not a reasonable forum for debate? Was I not nice enough when I described what I found awkward about the article?

Is it more polite to go tell somebody to shoot themselves?

Right, now there is nothing polite about this forum at the moment,your at Willis's posting and complaining he put personal opinion in his article. He's a journalist most of it is personal opinion whether you realize it or not. He is expressing things from a point of view that can only be his, unless you have some crazy powers that allow you to read his mind, which is how almost all journalism is done and therefore makes it a personal opinion.

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#41 Marc
February 07 2011, 03:24PM
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Jonathan

Whilst I can certainly understand the potential benefits of delaying promising rookies from starting their ELC, have you thought about how that would actually work in practice? How do you think a player would feel about the organisation if they: - forced you to spend a year or more earning a fraction of what you would earn if you were in the NHL - kept you in such a situation even though you were clearly better right now than some of the players on the team's NHL roster - refused to let you, a competitive professional athlete, test yourself against the best players in the world - did all this in the hopes of badly underpaying you relative to your production for the first three years you spent in the NHL

Do you think a player treated that way would have positive feelings about the organisation? Do you think they would be willing to give a hometown discount when negotiating future contracts with the team or do think they would try to recoup some of the money they lost playing under their ELC? What about other players in the league ie. potential free agents signings? Do you think they would think a team that treated their rookies this way would be a good organisation to join, one that knows how to look after its players?

If my employer took advantage of me in this way I know I would be looking to get out at the earliest opportunity.

Is the short term gain of increasing the odds that a player outperforms their ELC really worth doing potentially irreparable damage to your relationship with that player?

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#42 Zamboni Driver
February 07 2011, 03:26PM
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I'm absolutely stunned that an article about

Patrick

Freakin'

Thoresen

can cause so much animosity. I think some of y'all might be holding on a little too tight out there. It's a reasonably nice day.

Consider fresh air.

Perhaps exercise.

Certainly grasping a bit of perspective.

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#43 Wäx Män Riley
February 07 2011, 03:29PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

Oh how silly of me, naturally I should have compared Magnus Paajarvi coming to Edmonton as a 19-year old to the development of two potential Hall of Famers. My mistake. Oh and no pressure Maggie.

But while we're at it, aren't the Canucks stupid for bringing the Sedins over as 19-year olds? They might have developped into great players had they only stayed in Sweden a little while longer.

Please.

To be fair, I think Pääjärvi would have gotten some benefit in the AHL as opposed to the SEL. He could get top-line minutes in a good league on NA ice.

I don't think JW was suggesting he should stay in Sweden

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#44 ubermiguel
February 07 2011, 03:29PM
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Those KHL numbers merit the discussion. And if he turned himself into a centre who can win face-offs that would be a remarkable transformation. A solid 3-4th line centre perhaps? Haven't Brule, Cog and Fraser worn out their welcome yet?

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#45 Wäx Män Riley
February 07 2011, 03:30PM
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Saying "Nabokov is coming back" does not mean he is going back to SJ

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#46 baggedmilk
February 07 2011, 03:34PM
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Wäx Män Riley wrote:

To be fair, I think Pääjärvi would have gotten some benefit in the AHL as opposed to the SEL. He could get top-line minutes in a good league on NA ice.

I don't think JW was suggesting he should stay in Sweden

He suggests it right here.

http://oilersnation.com/2011/1/27/paajarvi-should-have-been-held-back-a-year

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#47 Ender
February 07 2011, 03:35PM
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Wäx Män Riley wrote:

Saying "Nabokov is coming back" does not mean he is going back to SJ

Well, that may be true, but in this case the parallel isn't quite the same.

If Thor truly wanted to come back to Edmonton, and Oilers management decided they wanted him here, there's not much anyone is likely to be able to do about it. Not even the Islanders.

Edit: After re-reading, I may have given the wrong impression. I get that SJ didn't want him. Was referring more to the Red Wings with my point. Sorry if I missed yours.

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#48 Mike Krushelnyski
February 07 2011, 03:37PM
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@Zamboni Driver

It's that sad realization that there are 29 games left before this season can mercifully end.

We need someone else to riff on before this boils over. Hey guys, get a load of the Leafs! They traded two lottery picks for a fat jerk who doesn't like it there! At least we're not them, right?

*high fives the Nation, but there's a twinge of sadness and denial behind it*

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#49 Wäx Män Riley
February 07 2011, 03:38PM
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@Marc

Ask the Red Wings and the players that aren't in the lineup until they are ready what they think.

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#50 thebiggestmanintheworld
February 07 2011, 03:44PM
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Anybody willing to block a point shot with his nads can play for my team. A team can NEVER have enough heart and hustle and that is exactly what Thor would provide. Sign him up.

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