Pääjärvi's Season

Lowetide
March 26 2011 08:34AM

Magnus Pääjärvi is a very impressive young player. Size, blazing speed and exceptional attention to defensive detail for a man his age. As his rookie season nears an end, there is one question we should ask about him: is he going to score enough to be a long term option for the top 2 lines?

One way we can evaluate hockey players is by their points scored at even strength (5x5 in this case) per hour. It isn't perfect--if you're a rookie on a bad team and playing with subpar linemates for most of the season that will impact your totals--but it does give you an idea about the player and how often he contributes to the puck going in the other net.

OILERS 10-11 5x5/60 FORWARDS (30+ games)

  1. Ales Hemsky 2.88
  2. Sam Gagner 1.91
  3. Jordan Eberle 1.88
  4. Linus Omark 1.86
  5. Taylor Hall 1.78
  6. Ryan Jones 1.49
  7. Shawn Horcoff 1.47
  8. Magnus Pääjärvi 1.40
  9. Andrew Cogliano 1.37
  10. Liam Reddox 1.07
  11. JF Jacques 1.00
  12. Gilbert Brule 0.99
  13. Colin Fraser 0.50 

A couple of notes: The men 1-5 have delivered solid offense based on this team's overall skill set (that's my opinion) and specifically things are looking up for rookies Eberle and Hall offensively.  Pääjärvi is delivering about the same offense as Robert Nilsson did a year ago, but he's a different kind of player and can be useful in another role.

This isn't the be all and end all,  Pääjärvi could post a much better number a year from now. And it's also not written in stone that it will do him any good--Marc Pouliot had a 2.06 5x5/60 and they sent his ass out of town. However, with the understanding that  Pääjärvi wasn't facing the toughest opposition (RedCorsi numbers are here) and was playing (generally) with good linemates (proof is here) it may be time to start talking about Magnus Pääjärvi outside the scoring lines.

Pääjärvi is a bit of an odd duck on the ice. Many times he's in an extreme defensive position; his positioning on plays is often curious (when he isn't leading the rush he appears to my eye to be the de facto center on the line, entering late ala Adam Oates many years ago). I like him as a future 2-way winger, and have suggested in the past that Tomas Sandstrom is his best comparable.

I think Magnus Pääjärvi will have solid offensive seasons during his career. His final point total this season (currently 72gp, 11-17-28) is more than respectable--he ranks 10th among rookie forwards in the entire league and only Hall and Skinner rank ahead of him among teenagers--but I also believe he has a wide range of skills and may be best suited to a two-way role.

You know those times when you're mourning the loss of Fernando Pisani and pining for the days of the Marchant-Moreau-Grier line? Or when you reach back to 2006 spring and recall those wonderful two-way forwards like Mike Peca and Radek Dvorak? 

I think that might be Pääjärvi's future. Pisani with more offense. And that my friends is a fine NHL player.  

NOTE: I'll be on Nation Radio at noon today (Team 1260). You can email questions to Doug MacLean (among others) to nationradio@theteam1260.com

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#51 Randall Shermer
March 26 2011, 06:10PM
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rindog wrote:

I am guessing that if the Oilers didn't have 4 and 14 in the line-up this year, we would all be salivating over the super-rook PRV...

Weird how perception works. Gagner has almost double the scoring rate in his rookie season (similar TOI/g), however Paajarvi is big and fast so people love him even if he's not putting it in too much.

Then Gagner actually turns into a better, more complete player but the sexy points aren't there in bigger quantities so suddenly there are fans grumbling that he should be traded before others find out he's not 6'02".

Yet Eberle, who is all of 6 months younger and neither faster nor bigger than Gagner is a surefire top liner that just can't be traded. Eberle's scoring rate, by the way, on similar minutes for his 20 year old rookie season is nearly identical to Gagner's scoring rate in his 18 year old rookie season. I know they played on different teams but surely that should give one pause for thought on both Gagner and Eberle.

I get that its possible to see Paajarvi with his speed and size and see "untapped potential". Same with Eberle with his splendid stick work and shifty attack. But I think its only honest to ask the other side of untapped potential, namely: why, if Paajarvi is so blessed with such advantages, didn't he do better offensively in his rookie season? Why always "untapped potential" and not more "disappointing waste of talent"?

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#52 They're $hittie
March 26 2011, 06:50PM
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OMG, we do this to Gagner, and now before he is only 19 we are turning on Magnus. Next year Eberle will be the scape goat than the following year RNH. The future top six with the players we hve now is not bad and needs time.

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#53 Ari Gold
March 26 2011, 10:32PM
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I think we're a little spoiled in this era having watched Crosby and Ovechkin begin their careers as true top 3 forwards on their respective teams. Most careers do not begin this way. Honestly, one just can't take the evidence of this current, or even last year's, season and draw any solid conclusions about the youngsters future performance.

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#54 Reach Advantage
March 27 2011, 03:14PM
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LT, do you think that Paajarvi's offensive development may have been hindered by playing in the NHL this year rather than a league where he could dominate and work on his scoring touch like Eberle was able to?

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#55 David S
March 28 2011, 11:45AM
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Randall Shermer wrote:

Weird how perception works. Gagner has almost double the scoring rate in his rookie season (similar TOI/g), however Paajarvi is big and fast so people love him even if he's not putting it in too much.

Then Gagner actually turns into a better, more complete player but the sexy points aren't there in bigger quantities so suddenly there are fans grumbling that he should be traded before others find out he's not 6'02".

Yet Eberle, who is all of 6 months younger and neither faster nor bigger than Gagner is a surefire top liner that just can't be traded. Eberle's scoring rate, by the way, on similar minutes for his 20 year old rookie season is nearly identical to Gagner's scoring rate in his 18 year old rookie season. I know they played on different teams but surely that should give one pause for thought on both Gagner and Eberle.

I get that its possible to see Paajarvi with his speed and size and see "untapped potential". Same with Eberle with his splendid stick work and shifty attack. But I think its only honest to ask the other side of untapped potential, namely: why, if Paajarvi is so blessed with such advantages, didn't he do better offensively in his rookie season? Why always "untapped potential" and not more "disappointing waste of talent"?

^ THIS and the fact that both Eberle and Gagner are not being played in roles that might actually nurture their games. Despite this, both guys are genuine players who deserve a bit more patience when it comes to development (which on most teams doesn't mean "throw 'em in and see if they can swim").

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