The Paajarvi Recall/Non-Recall

The Edmonton Oilers ended up looking a little silly yesterday. First, they recalled Magnus Paajarvi. Tom Renney talked about him playing on the top line with Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle. Then, the Oilers had to return Paajarvi to the AHL after the NHL informed them they’d used their allotted four post-deadline recalls.

What does it mean?

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The Paajarvi Camp

I tweeted Gunnar Svenson, the agent for Magnus Paajarvi last night, to ask if the Oilers had offered them any explanation for the abortive recall. His response:

No Jonathan. But the Oilers meant well. They liked to have Magnus up. But the CBA rules could be complicaded (sic)

It would seem that there aren’t any hard feelings on that end of things, which is probably the most important thing here.

The Actual Mechanics of the Recall

Here is the list of the Oilers’ post-deadline recalls, courtesy of the AHL’s official website, which tracks things like this:

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  • February 27: Oilers recall Magnus Paajarvi
  • March 5: Oilers recall Linus Omark
  • March 14: Oilers recall Teemu Hartikainen
  • March 24: Oilers recall Chris VandeVelde
  • March 30: Oilers recall Magnus Paajarvi

As we can see, there are five recalls. As has been much-publicized, only four recalls are permitted after the deadline.

Two of these transactions in particular are interesting: the February 27 recall of Paajarvi and the March 24 recall of VandeVelde.

Here’s what Dan Tencer had to say about the Paajarvi transaction:

The Oilers had previously assigned and recalled Paajarvi as a paper transaction to get him eligible for OKC playoffs.

That’s the transaction that many forgot about – because Paajarvi never really went anywhere. The Oilers simply wanted to ensure that Paajarvi could play in the AHL without actually sending him down. The irony is that Paajarvi didn’t end up playing another game for the Oilers under his paper recall – the Oilers sent him down (in what turned out to be for good) on March 1 without him dressing once more. So, the Oilers could have sent him down with no negative consequences then, and not have burned one of their four recalls uselessly.

Derek Van Diest has suggested that the Oilers felt the Vande Velde recall was an “emergency” recall (recall –hehe- that he was brought up to fill in for Shawn Horcoff after the latter injured his back) but as Tyler Dellow explains that defense makes literally no sense:

Where I would assume that this gets problematic is that, come Wednesday night, Horcoff and Petrell are good to go. Omark and Vande Velde are healthy scratches. At which point, the Oilers are in breach of 13.12(m)(i) because they haven’t returned Vande Velde promptly to OKC. How do you resolve this? It appears that the NHL took the utterly reasonable route of simply treating Vande Velde as the Oilers fourth recall in the post trade deadline period.

Who made the mistake? Terry Jones, to his credit, asked Kevin Lowe for the answer to that one. Here, in part, is what Lowe told him:

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“It wasn’t Tambellini at all. And I’d hate to see Ricky [Olczyk, the Oilers’ assistant general manager] take a hit on this. He is impeccable when it comes to dealing with all of this.”

Lowe also took time to complain about the rule (he described it as “ludicrous”) but that’s really irrelevant window dressing. Regardless of whether the Oilers like the rules or not, they’re responsible for understanding the rules and following them.

Does It Matter?

In the grand scheme of things, will the Oilers’ failure to recall Magnus Paajarvi have any impact on the team’s ability to win games, on the long-term viability of the rebuild, or anything else? No. All it means, from that standpoint, is that the Oilers don’t get to keep Paajarvi for a short-term cup of coffee in a meaningless season.

The Oilers do end up looking silly. That isn’t good but it’s hardly the end of the world, either.

The real question that this raises publicly is whether or not the Oilers front office is especially good at what they do. This isn’t the first time the question has come up. From my profile of Rick Olczyk, a brief history:

As with any assistant general manager, we don’t have a full-picture view of Olczyk – the majority of his decisions and takes on things are spelled out internally and unlike with a team’s general manager we can’t really determine what those decisions were from the direction of the team. There are, however, some interesting points. One of the interesting things to come out of the Dany Heatley boondoggle was the fact that apparently both the Oilers and Senators were confused about when Heatley’s bonus was payable, which reflects badly on Olczyk. Then there was the time the Oilers may have been confused by Gilbert Brule’s waiver eligibility. Then there was that time that someone high up in the organization didn’t know how long the team had to sign Teemu Hartikainen. Again, it needs to be emphasized that we’re constructing a picture based on glimpses, but those sorts of things look really bad.

Again, it needs to be emphasized that the picture we’re getting is far less than whole. I certainly don’t feel I’m in a position to objectively evaluate Rick Olczyk’s job performance; I simply don’t have the information to do that. To my knowledge, nobody outside the Oilers’ organization has the necessary information to do that.

What we do have are these little gaffes.  Apparent confusion about the payment of Dany Heatley’s bonus (though the Oilers weren’t alone on that) and Gilbert Brule’s waiver eligibility.  There was some definite confusion (from an unnamed Oilers source) on when the deadline was to sign Teemu Hartikainen.  And now, an embarassing little incident where they recalled a player they weren’t allowed to recall.  None of these things assure us that the Oilers are running a professional shop.

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  • Well, I said it all year that this summer is going to be the most important for the Oilers management; they have some of the vital pieces in place now, with the draft coming up, free agency, the prospects pool and players as trade assets it’s up to the management to put it all together and bring this team out of the re-build and into a competitive playoff team.

    A recall blunder is not necessarily the time to panic. If the Oilers draft and then go into next season making only minor upgrades this summer then I honestly believe this team has absolutely no direction and no real idea of player talent and evaluation.

    Not yet time to panic or get really bent out of shape about this year. But time is ticking for upper management.

  • paul wodehouse

    …when will our GM get his extension so we all can be assured of more clear sailing on the good ship Oiler…i’m not sure if i want to have to deal with anyone else in this most crucial time in the franchises’ history…to be going into the off season without our GM and his A$$-istant and possibly an all new coaching staff would be just too much for me to cope with here …

    oh wait that’s what i want anyway … complete and utter failure due to no front line brains to steer us to the Holy Grail…or maybe extend and fire extend and fire all the way down the line …

    is our GM Curly Larry or Moe

  • Zed

    I posted this over at FlamesNation. Maybe time el Editorio focused on the failures of his own team.

    Hey Tim, pretty embarrassing huh? Nice record over the last 9 games. A team with an open door to the playoffs and they win one in regulation. Pretty embarrassing. Pretty embarrassing that it has come to a fan throwing his jersey onto the ice. Pretty embarrassing. Overall, this is a much more embarrassing situation than the PRV re-call situation with the Oilers. One that’s not so much embarrassing since the Oilers had contacted the NHL and were given the direction that the NHL viewed it originally as OK.

    But yet you haven’t written an article ripping the Flames players for the embarrassment of shatting their pants when they a playoff spot all but handed to them with the way others were stumbling. They lost handily to the 29th and 30th place teams in the playoff fight. Now that is embarrassing. Write about your own teams failures. You are probably the type of guy, who if you were pulled over speeding, the first thing out of your mouth would be, ” Well all the other vehicles on Deerfoot were going that fast too!”. But no, you have to try to poke attention to the North to make up for your own failure/ fear or insecurities about your own team.

    Enjoy being out of the playoffs, you’ll see that for a long time to come. Then we will see which city has the true fanbase. 3 years of 30, ,30 and most likely 29th, and our barn is still full, every night, NOT throwing jerseys on the ice. I suspect you will have no trouble taking the family to games over the next few years, with the amount of non-renewals you will see. Better hope the medical system is in good shape, as I think Calgary will see many injured ankles and knees with the bandwagon emptying like the Titanic.

    • Zed

      Not really a big fan of what you did. Nor the fact that you felt the need to back it up on this site.

      Don’t get me wrong I enjoy watching the Flames crash and burn like any warm blooded Oiler fan would but what you did makes me shake my head. There was no mention of the PRV boo boo in that article nor was there any mention of the Oilers at all. Why decide to take a jab? Reminds me of that low self esteemed bully deciding to make fun of that skinny kid with the glasses in Jr High.

      If you must put your team on a pedistal by putting down the Flames, save it for BOA game days kiddo.

      • Zed

        If you follow the gentleman to whom I was referring, you would realize that since the PRV recall, he has been more active in posting and commenting about the PRV situation than his own beloved team.

        Pardon me for having some pride in my beloved team. Maybe you should enlighten me why it is alright for fans and writers of a rival team to run us into the ground, and you feel that I should not be allowed to reply and defend. They make fun of our fanbase, so I did the same. They make fun of our position in the standings, and I do the same. The person to whom I was referring would not reply directly to my comment, for whatever reason. Maybe when he is confronted by someone with a valid point, he just chooses to ignore. I at least applaud you for voicing your opinion. And I don’t say you are wrong, I ask you why is it ok for others but not for an Oiler fan.

  • Zed

    One of my favorite articles on this site in recent memory was Wanye’s BOA game day post a few weeks back and possibly to a lesser degree Vintage Flame’s game day posts because of the following comments. The comments and rebuttles were all classic and should be bronzed. Mainly because they all were relevant to the article.

    What I read in the Flames Nation post game article did not reference the PRV incident so your comment comes off as inapropriate and untimely. I do not know who this Tim fellow is nor am I going to go back and waste time reading past articles to find out. If you want your comments to make sense make them relevant. I LOVE LAMP!

    I just calls them as I sees them.