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.

  • John Chambers

    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.

    • avoid making statements such as “This guy deserves another crack at an NHL job”….you’re a much more intersting read when you cite facts as opposed to sensationalizing your point of view.

      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…you’re not in an “expert” position to make such bold statements, and therefore should refrain from doing so.

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

      1. Stating his opinion that he deserves another crack is sensationalizing his point of view? You must have seizures when you accidentally see a tabloid cover.

      2. That something is a matter of opinion does not require the words “I think” or “in my opinion” to precede every statement. After all, you’re sitting there telling JW he is much too bold rather than suggesting that it might be possible in your humble opinion that as long as the experts agree he could possibly maybe be a little too forward in his suggestions.

      3. Why does someone need to be an “expert to have a strong opinion? If I break a finger am I not allowed to tell anyone it’s broken without a doctors opinion?

      4. You didn’t question the logic of the article. You questioned how JW chose to phrase his opinions. One makes for interesting debate, the other makes you look like an a$$.

  • NastyNate

    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?

  • SumOil

    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?

  • @ 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.

      • Bank Shot

        Hey baggedmilk, can you find a shred of evidence to support your theory that Magnus would have ran in place regarding development by spending another year in an inferior league?

        Because it sure didn’t seem to hurt Lindros, anyone drafted by the red Wings, or the entire 2003 draft class.

  • @ John Chambers:

    A couple of things:

    1. It’s an opinion piece, not an article in the New York Times.

    2. The comparison to O’Sullivan really doesn’t make sense. Thoresen’s problem has always been offence, not attitude, so an offensive improvement means he deserves another look. O’Sullivan’s problem has always been attitude, not offence, so a more fitting comparison would be if he goes to Russia and spends two seasons as the gritty captain of a KHL team. Than I’d be saying yes, he deserves another look.

    3. You’ll note I included his even-strength goal-scoring in the article. It accounts for more than 82% of his total goal-scoring.

    4. Finally, we won’t know how NHL GM’s view this guy until this summer. If not one of them offers him an Alex Giroux-type deal than yes, I’d say they’re acting irrationally.

      • NastyNate

        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….

        • 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.

  • @ 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.

    • 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.

      • Wax Man Riley

        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

          • Wax Man Riley

            Yes, there is that post. It also says:

            “The problem is that the Oilers are burning a year of Paajarvi’s entry-level contract while he isn’t a difference maker to give him limited NHL minutes, when they could be saving that year for when he’s a better player and giving him virtually unlimited minutes in the SEL or AHL. From a cap management and development perspective, that strikes me as flawed thinking.”

            Including the AHL. I agree. It’s not that I don’t like Pääjärvi, I think he is a good player and will be a very, very good player. He also has shown more confidence lately, and it shows in his game. I also think a year in the AHL would have let him do that and with game-deciding minutes.

            The year of the ELC isn’t really a concern to me.

    • John Chambers

      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.

        • John Chambers

          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?

        • Mike Krushelnyski

          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.

      • Marc

        “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.”

        I would have to agree with this comment.

        Still, maybe Thoresen is worth taking a look at for next year. Maybe I’m wrong, but wouldn’t he have to clear waivers this year (like Nabokov)?

  • NastyNate

    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.

  • Bucknuck

    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.

  • Horcsky

    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.

  • @ baggedmilk:

    Absolutely. I think it’s clear, given how the Sedins lit the world a-flame when they made their NHL debuts, that another year in Sweden would have crippled their careers.

    But since we’re talking, let’s looked at some baggedmilk-logic: sure, the guy’s a top-five player in the second-best league in the world, but it’s CRAAAAZY to suggest he deserves a slot on some NHL team’s fourth line – everyone knows that an elite KHL’er has NO CHANCE at being one of the 300-420th best players in the NHL. I’m not sure you’re aware of this, but the mid-1980’s are over; it’s okay to have a token European or two in the lineup.

    • 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

  • Spydyr

    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.

  • Ender

    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.

  • John Chambers

    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.

    • John Chambers

      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?

      • Jamie B.

        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.

  • Marc

    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?

      • Marc

        Which current Red Wing prospects who are clearly better than the players on the roster? For that matter, which former Red Wings prospects were kept in the minors for a year or more while inferior players were on the NHL roster?

        It’s one thing to keep players in the minors because they can’t beat out any of the players on your roster for a spot. It’s quite another to keep a player in the minors, despite the fact that he’s better than some of the players on the NHL roster, just so he doesn’t start his ELC.

        • Wax Man Riley

          I didn’t say they were there while inferior players were playing on the club. What I meant is that Detroit seems not to insert their young players into their lineup until they have had some seasoning.

          Datsyuk: Drafted in 1998, played a year with the Wings in 2001/2002

          Zetterberg: Drafted in 1999, played a year in 2002/2003

          Abdelkader: Drafted in 2005, played a year in ’07/’08

          Hudler: Drafted in 2002, played 12 games in ’03/’04, played a year in ’06/’07

          Kronwall: Drafted in 2000: Had a couple of stints with the big club in ’03/’04 and ’05/’06 but not a regular shift until ’06/’07

          They were brought along slowly. People still complain that Gagner and Cogliano were brought in too soon. With the rookies in the lineup already this year, Pääjärvi could have developed playing top minutes in th AHL this year.

          He is on the team now, and doing well and in no way am I saying his development was stunted coming straight here. His TC said he needed a shot here. I think Omark had some benefit from the AHL this year.

  • Zamboni Driver

    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.

    • Mike Krushelnyski

      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*

  • ubermiguel

    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?

    • Ender

      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.

  • Marc

    I am not sure who they are thinking will be our top checking center next year. But a guy that costs next to nothing, has 55% in the dot, gives up very little and has a lot of jam might be an upgrade over say cogs or COLIN FRASER