Paajarvi Should Have Been Held Back A Year

This fall, some argued that the Oilers were making a mistake inserting all three of their blue-chip forward prospects into the line-up at the same time. The player I suggested should have been given another year of seasoning at a lower professional level was Magnus Paajarvi, and given what we’ve seen so far this season I think that would have been the correct decision.

It’s not that Paajarvi’s been a bad player. He hasn’t, particularly given his age and role on the roster. With Hall (and Eberle, prior to injury) playing so well, it sometimes seems Paajarvi doesn’t get his due. He’s still a player I think we can regard as a difference maker somewhere down the road.

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.

This is particularly true when there are plenty of other options available. Let’s compare Paajarvi’s performance to that of two other forwards, one currently on the Oilers’ roster and one who the team bought out last year. For ease of comparison, we’ll adjust games played to Paajarvi’s 47.

Player GP G A PTS
Paajarvi, 2010-11 47 6 13 19
Omark, 2010-11 47 7 14 21
Nilsson, 2009-10 47 9 13 22

Given that this was always going to be a burned season anyway, the difference in performance between Paajarvi and a player like Robert Nilsson or Linus Omark is a trivial thing, but the fact is the Oilers could have got comparable play from either option.

In either case, there would have been tangible benefits:

  • Paajarvi could play a much larger role on a lower-level professional team
  • Paajarvi’s ELC would slide forward another year, keeping him at a lower pay threshold for one additional season and delaying his UFA eligibility by an additional season
  • (If Omark) The Oilers would have had a better opportunity to evaluate Omark at the NHL level over an entire seaso
  • (If Nilsson) The Oilers would have saved the money used in his buyout, as well as avoided the six-figure cap penalty for 2011-12

It’s not the end of the world that the Oilers chose to bring Paajarvi into the NHL this year, and I don’t doubt it will be valuable experience for him. It just doesn’t strike me as the best option.

  • DK0

    I think that year one is useful for his development. Nilsson on the other hand got worse (useless) the more confidence he got. I, for one, see constant improvement when it comes the PRV.

  • DK0

    ~Slowly developing players in the minors doesnt build winning teams!!1~

    Taylor Hall as a #1 should be a regular NHL’er, Jordan Eberle has earned his NHL shot with his ppg numbers in the AHL.

    I have no problem with players being developed, but hindsight being 20/20, you wouldn’t have thought 10 games into the season that the 1 player who regularly played against men would be the least likely to make the jump.

    Its funny how its blasphemy that Omark be given 4th line minutes, and he’s a “top 6” type of player, but there is no discussion of Paajarvi having to play 3rd line minutes most of the season. His pedigree isn’t 3rd line material.

    Doubt it now, but “fist?”

    • Horcsky

      I agree with your last paragraph (before the fist fail). I always wonder why we can’t have a skill guy on the fourth line. I think to myself hmm, would I rather have JF Jacques eating up nothing minutes, or Omark going out there and being as creative as he wants?

  • DK0

    I think the one thing this misses though is the chance that you build a team of similar aged players that become friends and are willing to take slight pay cuts to remain together.

    When the EL contracts are up and you have MPS and Omark being best friends and then Hall and Eberle the same, i think it would be easier as a GM to approach all 4 and explain that you want to keep the group together, but the only way to do it is to pay less then market value if we want to take a run at the cup.

    • 24% body fat

      Why didn’t the coach insert Smac daddy yesterday. Fistric was taking liberties against the Oil and was not held accountable. There should’ve been two penalties against this guy especially the one where he took down Jones and Jones looked dazed afterwards. It was a rough game and simple history this season would’ve dictated putting Smac daddy into the game yesterday.
      Of course Pjaarvai should’ve spent some time in the minors just like Gagner and Cogliano should’ve spent some time down there to hone their craft ie.learn faceoffs, etc…—alas hindsight is always 20/20.