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.

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:

“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.

  • @ 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.

    • 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.

      • 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)?

        • 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.

        • 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

  • @ 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.

  • @ 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.

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • 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$$.

    • 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.