Bring Back The Electric Norseman!

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.

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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:

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“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.


    • 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.

      • Jamie B.

        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.

        • Ender

          @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.

          • Jamie B.

            Fair. I just think that guys who don’t make it in the NHL don’t make it for a reason. The KHL is a different league with a different style of game. There’s a different amount of time and space and you only have to read Paajarvi’s recent comments about how much the smaller rink changes the game from the way he played in Sweden to know what I’m talking about.

            Is it impossible for a guy to do well in both leagues? Of course not. Do I think Patrick Thoresen at age 27 has suddenly developed the skize and skills to score 20 goals in the NHL in anything short of a “Petr Prucha scoring 30 goals on a power play with Jagr” situation? I do not.

          • Bucknuck

            You may think this but you are wrong. 100% of the top players in the KHL would be quality NHL players. There is no such thing as a KHL star who can’t play in the NHL.

          • Jamie B.

            Please point out to me where I said Thoresen couldn’t play in the NHL. Of course he could, he already has!

            What I disagree with is Thoresen saying, “I know I can score 20-25 goals in the NHL.” If I thought he could do that, yes, he would be an upgrade over Reddox/Brule/Cogliano. Good for him for having confidence but I’m not buying it. If he proves me wrong I’ll be happy to say so.

            As for your 100% claim, well, I have no idea how we’d prove that one way or the other so we can agree to (strongly) disagree.