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 (5×5 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 5×5/60 FORWARDS (30+ games)
- Ales Hemsky 2.88
- Sam Gagner 1.91
- Jordan Eberle 1.88
- Linus Omark 1.86
- Taylor Hall 1.78
- Ryan Jones 1.49
- Shawn Horcoff 1.47
- Magnus Pääjärvi 1.40
- Andrew Cogliano 1.37
- Liam Reddox 1.07
- JF Jacques 1.00
- Gilbert Brule 0.99
- 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 5×5/60 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 firstname.lastname@example.org