Trades, the Edmonton Oilers, and Magnus Paajarvi

Paajarvi looks skyward after breaking a long goal-scoring slump

Except for days where the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs are making deals, or Pittsburgh is giving away Markus Naslund for Alex Stojanov, teams generally need to give up quality to land quality in return. With news that the Oilers are still looking to land a top-four defenseman, might Magnus Paajarvi be a piece the team considers moving? Should they be considering it?

Bob Stauffer, quoted in Robin Brownlee’s article today makes it clear that the Oilers are looking to the trade front to address their blue line. Given Stauffer’s enviable track record on these things, that’s as close to a sure thing as it gets.

Why do I bring up Paajarvi’s name? Mostly because the young winger is at an interesting place in his Oilers career.

A year ago, Paajarvi was a 20-year old 10th overall pick coming off a 15-goal/34-point season in Edmonton. He wasn’t quite at the same level as fellow rookies Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, but even so he was in the same range. This year, however, Hall and Eberle both improved their totals (in Eberle’s case, greatly) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a fantastic rookie season. Paajarvi scored two goals in half a season and saw significant time in the AHL, where his offensive totals were okay but not spectacular.

That makes Paajarvi less integral to the rebuild, and a candidate to be moved in the right deal. (He’s not the only player in that boat – Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky are other forwards with value who may not be considered significant parts of the rebuild.)

In the right deal, I think it makes sense to consider trading Paajarvi – but the right deal needs to involve a player coming back who fits both short- and long-term goals. In other words, it makes little sense to trade Paajarvi for a defenseman who is only likely to be an Oiler for one or two years.

The reason I say that is because while I share concerns about Paajarvi’s offensive game, I do think he has long-term upside as a top-nine forward on a good team. His offense is not as bad as he showed this year – among other things, his shooting percentage dropped to 2.9%, just over half as good as the NHL’s worst shooter since the lockout, Bruins’ tough guy Shawn Thornton. More than that, Paajarvi fared well by scoring chance/shot metrics and is one of the few young forwards in my memory who could stand to pay a little less attention to the defensive end of the rink and a little more to scoring.

Certainly Paajarvi’s physical gifts are not in question. Despite his reluctance to use his incredible speed and power forward’s frame (6’2”, 204lbs) to crash the net, he’s an excellent athlete. Even if his offense doesn’t come along, he looks a lot to me like a guy who could be a well-above average third-line winger. That has value.

What it doesn’t do is make him untouchable if the right deal comes along. Ideally, from an Oilers’ perspective hanging on to Paajarvi is the thing to do – they can wait and see if how he performs in 2012-13. But if he’s the piece that brings back a good defenseman with a long-term Oilers future, he’s movable.

This week by Jonathan Willis

  • MessyEH!

    PRV was given a raw deal by Renney last year. The NHL games he did play he was riding shotgun for Belanger. Who on the team could score with Belanger. Deal Belanger for Gretzky’s “hockey my way!” VHS. and a pair of cooperalls.

  • Paajarvi needs more a lot time in the minors to learn the North American game, develop some vision and build confidence. His game right now is purely north-south, speed down the wing and flick a soft wrister at the net, hence the low shooting percentage. He needs to learn how to see the other options available and develop the will to pursue those options (some of which include using the body). I’m not sure if he’ll ever have the willingness to play physical. Like I’ve said before, his ceiling is to become the next Niklas Sundstrom.

  • paul wodehouse

    prv comparibles…cassey campbell-whatever her other name is…that wickenheiser gal was very good in the corners…team tough too

    PRV to the A…Todd Nelson turns him into the league mvp, scoring champion and whatever else he needs to be to ‘earn’ a place in a trade package to get Shea Weber please…

  • @ WeridAl

    I will try to keep this from sounding to derogatory but you sound a lot like a Vancouver fan. We all know there are a couple of holes that need filling and we are probably still 2-3 years away from being one of the NHL Elite teams.

    I don’t have a crystal ball that can guarantee the team will be in the playoffs this year but i think if the team went in as is with improved coaching we have a very good shot to be competing for the playoffs. That being said we all know they are still planning on making a move or 2 to address the holes we do have.

    If you are comparing the team on paper going into this season as opposed to the last 2 we look very good! One thing that we were missing in years past is depth. We are still thin but getting deeper each year. It is a lot easier for a team to put their top checkers out and have them key on one or two scoring threats then it is to have them try to match lines and stop 5 or 6 players. If you look at the stats from the young guys they have been going at a pretty good clip, and as that depth improves they will get more room. J schultz should open the ice up a little bit. Yak is fast and probably uses his body more then any of the young guys other then Hall.

    If you are so certain we have no chance at the playoffs this year what types of odds would you be willing to give in a bet?

  • The Oilers really shouldn’t trade Paajarvi (or Hemsky for that matter) since both players could improve drastically from a switch from Renney’s dump/cycle/defend/reacquire system to a more dynamic offensive system under Krueger.

  • If you traded Magnus straight up for a d-man, the guy you got back would probably be a worse defenceman than Magnus himself could be!

    The only way you would get good value for MPS would be if some GM could see the potential he has. Otherwise, you would be selling low at this time.

    If you’re going to trade a guy then you need to play the crap out of him on your best offensive lines against soft opposition and inflate his numbers and then sell high.

    Hemsky, MPS, and even Omark are all at a low. Their numbers haven’t been artificially juiced up.

    For that reason alone I would prefer to wait, unless of course some trade offer comes along that you can’t refuse.

    There is no rush here. Asset management.

  • Joy S. Lee

    Actually, I’m happy to see many others in agreement with me on PRV. Way too early to give up on him. Ceiling higher than most realize. Good kid, great attitude. May be the type of player who, as he matures, doesn’t score a ton, but scores the big goals in the big games, because he can get to places on the ice before others can, and he has the size to back it up. Krueger (or Nelson) may turn this kid into a star, but if we give up on him when he’s 20, someone else might do it instead. And THAT is why the return had better be plenty if entertaining the idea of dealing him. As Oilanderp said, to get to the top, it’s all about asset management, with a dash of patience.

  • Wax Man Riley

    shredder: ‘As much as we love to speculate, and I’m sure Tambi is trying to make something happen, I’d suggest we need to be prepared for the roster today being the roster on Oct. 15.’

    this. when Tambo makes a big trade, is the day I believe he has the gonads to do it. (aint happening, kiddies).