Magnus Paajarvi is the talk of the town after scoring two goals in a 4-1 walk over a bunch of suspects who are unlikely ever to wear the uniform of the Vancouver Canucks Sunday, but that’s not why I’m thinking about the big Swede today.
What caught my ear, as opposed to my eye, about Paajarvi’s debut with the Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver’s rookie tournament in Penticton is the assessment offered by chief scout Stu MacGregor in the aftermath.
When MacGregor talks, people who are really paying attention tend to listen, and what MacGregor said today on the Jason Gregor Show is that the gangly 19-year-old winger has a little bit of Glenn Anderson in him.
To steal from The Champ, I said, "Pardon?"
TAKE IT TO THE HOLE
"I guess there’s a little bit of that high-speed Glenn Anderson to him, you know? He takes it to the net," MacGregor said. "The one thing you’ll notice with Magnus, is he has the unique ability to drive forehand or backhand to the net. It’s almost equal. It’s kind of interesting. I watched that game last night. It’s Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle.
"Magnus kind of said, ‘You know what? I’m tired of hearing about them. I’m Magnus Paajarvi." He kind of showed it. There’s a lot of competitiveness in this young man. I think people will be very excited to see this guy as his career develops."
Safe to say, fans around here are already excited about Paajarvi, and with pretty good reason. The book on Paajarvi, Edmonton’s first pick, 10th overall in 2009 out of Timra IK, we know. With three years in the Swedish Elite League on his resume, Paajarvi is, and should be, ahead of both Hall and Eberle on the learning curve.
That fact — thanks, Captain Obvious — has people picking Paajarvi to outscore Hall and Eberle with the Oilers in his rookie season.
It’s the Anderson reference — and, no, I don’t think for a second that MacGregor is comparing Paajarvi to a guy in the HHOF who scored 498 regular season goals and owned the playoffs — and the talk about his competitive nature that grips me.
We know Paajarvi has offensive chops. We know he skates well for a player who’ll be, what, six-foot-three and 215 pounds when he fills out? I know Paajarvi has a sense of humour, because he handled some rookie razzing in a scrum — bad hair jokes from resident wise-ass notepads — no sweat the other day.
But a little bit of crust and a competitive streak, too? A chance Paajarvi might comb what’s left of Robyn Regehr’s hair with some composite if he runs at him? That’s a bonus I wasn’t counting on.
I’m not going to start pencilling Paajarvi in for a 70-point season based on one rookie game, but if MacGregor sees even a hint of Anderson in the kid with the way he takes it to the iron and competes, we’d all best pay attention through camp and pre-season.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.