Magunis Paajarvi has speed to burn and some defensive acumen in his game. Can he parlay those things into becoming a valuable role player on this Oilers team?
One of the areas of greatest need for the Oilers is a two-way winger who can keep his head above water against the NHL’s best at even strength, and be a "go-to" player when the game is on the line. Call him a Pisani-type, a Dvorak type, a Grier type, but the Oilers need that player in a quick hurry.
Magnus Paajarvi is a mannish boy filled with possibilities. He’s an absolute rocket on skates, with size and (possible failing) hands. On the other hand, he’s a little shy in some of the physical areas of the ice and doesn’t use his body like you’d like him to; he’s also quick to exit the scoring zones and cheat for defense. His background (he played defense as a younger player) lends itself to playing without the puck and that might lend itself to filling that Pisani-Grier role for the Oilers.
WHAT DO THESE PLAYER TYPES LOOK LIKE AT 20?
They are usually a little older by the time they get established in their roles, they are often players who have struggled to post offensive numbers at the NHL level; some have spent extended periods in the minors. Pisani was a depth draft pick, Dvorak was picked 10th overall (just like Paajarvi) in his draft year. All over the map in terms of draft day selection
These players usually display good footspeed, attention to detail and are not the best offensive players on their team. Not a lot of PP time, but PK and tough EV minutes are their lifeblood.
Paajarvi is a candidate for this role based on offense. Last season as a rookie, he scored 1.36/60 at 5×5, which was slightly better than the since dealt Andrew Cogliano. This season, the young man fell to .75/60 and ended up getting sent down to OKC.
With Hall, Eberle and Hemsky signed for next season, a young man like Paajarvi may find his way to regular duty in the NHL in a role different from his rookie season–a role playing 2-way winger.
WHAT DOES HIS RESUME LOOK LIKE?
Aside from the physical skills mentioned above, Paajarvi did show some progress this season during his second year. Here, let’s post the boxcars and secondary numbers for each season:
Magnus Pääjärvi 10-11
- 5×5 points per 60: 1.36 (8th among regular forwards)
- 5×4 points per 60: 3.45 (6th among regular forwards)
- Qual Comp: 9th toughest among regular forwards
- Qual Team: 12th best teammates among regular forwards
- Corsi Rel: 3.2 (7th best among regular forwards)
- Zone Start: 51.6% (5th easiest among regular forwards)
- Zone Finish: 52.4% (4th best among regular forwards)
- Shots on goal/percentage: 180/8.3% (8th among F’s>100 shots)
- Boxcars: 80gp, 15-19-34
- Plus Minus: -13
Magnus Pääjärvi 11-12
- 5×5 points per 60: 0.75 (12th among regular forwards) down arrow
- 5×4 points per 60: 2.84 (9th among regular forwards) down arrow
- Qual Comp: 9th toughest among regular forwards (same as last year)
- Qual Team: 12th best teammates among regular forwards (same as last year)
- Corsi Rel: 6.6 (4th best among regular forwards) IMPROVED
- Zone Start: 47.7% (11th easiest among regular forwards) (tougher than last year)
- Zone Finish: 49.9% (6th best among regular forwards)
- Shots on goal/percentage: 79/2.5% (14th and worst among reg F’s)
- Boxcars: 41, 2-6-8 -7
- Plus Minus: -7
Okay, very quickly: offense completely in the ditch, but his shooting percentage is insanely low. Now, Paajarvi isn’t going to break any glass but he should have scored more based on his own history and last season’s percentage. He’s not the most skilled guy on the Oilers, but he’s better than a 2.5% shooter. Put another way, if he’s Jed Ortmeyer next season I’ll go back to sniffing glue.
I bolded his CorsiRel because it’s an interesting item. Paajarvi did get sent down this season, but he played 41 NHL games. He played 489 EV minutes, compared to 1081 as a rookie. Two seasons in a row the kid has the puck headed in the right direction. That’s certainly something these player types have in common, although Paajarvi will need to do it against better competition–and deliver more offense than this season.
HIS DAYS ON THE SKILL LINES ARE DONE?
Paajarvi is way too young for us to make sweeping statements. He may end up being a complementary player on a line with the Nuge or Hall or Eberle and he might end up manning the point on the PP ala Rene Robert and Fred Stanfield thousands of years ago.
But the Oilers have splendid young offensive players and MP is not in their league. Finding a role that allows him to contribute to wins by outscoring and negating exceptional opponents has high value for an NHL team.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Sometimes the best thing to do when things don’t go your way is to have a long look in the mirror. If you don’t like what’s staring back at you, then there’s only one person who can do anything about it.
In the case of Magnus Paajarvi, I don’t think that’s the case. He was perhaps miscast originally as being in the same offensive league as Hall and Eberle, and when things didn’t happen early the team sent him away. Dennis King said early on that he wasn’t certain how Paajarvi was going to get his offense and as it turns out that is going to be an issue for him.
Good NHL teams find a way to utilize talent and the Swedish kid with the Finnish name can flat out fly, has size and a dedication to making sure his team has numbers on the right side of the puck. It might behoove the Oilers to take advantage of those things and use him in a checking/PK role beginning in the fall. After all, if the shoe fits…..