At this time two years ago, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi pretty much had the Edmonton Oilers marquee all to themselves. They were marketed as the future faces of the franchise.

Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi made public appearances together. They seemed to be some sort of a package deal. You couldn’t mention one without the other two. Virtually every reference to a bright future for the Oilers that included the names Hall and Eberle included Paajarvi.

It was much the same a year ago, with the added buzz over the arrival of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Hall was coming off an injury-shortened rookie campaign in which he scored 22-20-42. Eberle lived up to his press clippings with 18-25-43 despite playing only 69 games. Paajarvi tallied 15-19-34, which was right in line with the expectations that saw him taken 10th overall in 2009.

But instead of Nugent-Hopkins joining the other three on the marquee, he’d soon bump Paajarvi right off it, helped in large part by the big Swede’s early season struggles. By mid-season, Paajarvi was ticketed to Oklahoma of the AHL and Nugent-Hopkins, with good reason, was being touted as a Calder Trophy candidate. The rest, we know.


While Hall and Eberle signed big-ticket contract extensions this off-season after brilliant sophomore campaigns with the Oilers, Paajarvi, still only 21, is faced with working his way back up the organizational depth charts and back into the hearts of Edmonton fans.

That journey continues Friday when the OKC Barons open their AHL season against Lake Erie, a game that will see Paajarvi playing left wing on coach Todd Nelson’s top line alongside Nugent-Hopkins at pivot and Eberle on the right side. There are worse places to start.

"Playing-wise, I’m not that different. Mentally, for sure, I am," Paajarvi said. "I feel a lot more calm, a lot more safe and secure, I would say. Obviously, it was a tough year last year. It didn’t go as I wanted.

"It was the first year in my career that I had a hard time through the whole season, except for the last half with the playoffs down here. That gave me a boost."

After managing 25 points in 34 regular season games with Oklahoma City, Paajarvi closed a disappointing campaign with 11 points in 14 post-season outings. That, as Paajarvi said, qualifies as a "boost."


The question now: can Paajarvi re-establish himself with the organization and work his way back into the same conversations where the names Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins are mentioned? This, we do not know.

My take is pretty straightforward – I don’t think Paajarvi projects as the kind of game-breaker Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins already are. I don’t see him living up to the package deal hype we saw two years ago. He’s not a franchise player, a cornerstone guy.

At the same time, I don’t see any reason why Paajarvi can’t put his struggles of last season behind him and be about as productive as he was as a rookie once the NHL gets back in business – he looks to me like a player capable of 30-40 points a season, a third-liner who can bounce up to top-six duty in a pinch.

That won’t get Paajarvi near top-billing on a suddenly crowded marquee with Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and (speaking of hype and expectation) Nail Yakupov, but it will make him part of the mix Oiler fans have been waiting on.

We haven’t seen the last of what’s-his-name?

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Eulers

    I learned my lesson…

    Anybody else remember that sweet hat trick MPS had against Tampa Bay his first pre-season?? He looked like he might even overtake the other names on the marquee.

    The team certainly has a place for him if he drives to the net and uses his speed to play much deeper in the offensive end without getting caught defensively.

  • John Chambers

    Man, really makes you wish the Oilers followed the Flyers model and had the AHL team playing in the same city. Which begs the question – why don’t they, exactly?

    The lockout is turning out to be a big tumble-dryer for NHL teams and players. Some guys down on their luck get a chance to re-invent themselves before the NHL play gets underway again, while some teams near the top are going to tumble down the mountain a bit, maybe to never reach those heights for a long, long time (ahem Vancouver).

    I mean, how much would you like to be in Bob Murray’s shoes, watching as your two franchise players draw nearer and nearer to unrestricted free agency?

  • Big Cap

    After his 15 goals in his rookie year, it was kinda apparent that he was lost in the shuffle last year and put to the back burner with RNH’s glitzy arrival.

    He had consistently had new line mates, and line mates with not always the highest skill level, ie: Hordi, Belanger, Jones. Then Renney had him sit for a long stretcg before they did decide to send him down.

    This kid is young, a Euro, playing in a new country, with a new ice surface. He has speed, size and is good defensively, all 3 of which are very tough to teach.

    With the proper support with quality line mates and mental re-assurance from Krueger he still could be a top 6 guy, or a very prominent 3rd liner.

    There’s no way we have seen the last of this guy!!

  • Raider Jesse

    I still have faith in Magnus and Lander. However I take the blame. I chose them as my favourites. Everything I love in a sporting sense turns to trash. I am 100% to blame for Jarmarcus Russell, my first Jersey purchase. The Raiders, not Davis’ fault mine. The Blue Jays downfall since 1993, the Arena debacle, Mikhinov, Schremp, Inters collapse, The Grizzles and then the Raps struggles. The Reason Reggie Miller never won a title. Hell I blame team Canada’s loss at the olympics in Soccer on my excitement for the game.

    I almost bought a Paajarvi jersey, but didn’t so he may be salvagable.

  • RexLibris

    Although Pajaarvi may not be a big game breaker, he has in no way been given the same sort of opportunities as the other kids. In his rookie year he was given serious ice time only at the very end of the season, and he scored at a very respectable pace.

    The organization has more or less set him up for failure by pairing him with Belanger (tough season) and Lander (great potential, but simply not ready yet) in a plugger role. Hall and Ebs and Nuge were all given lots of grace for every mistake they made. MPS was always the one who they just couldn’t afford to accommodate as well and he got the shaft in terms of ice time, PP time, and line mates.

    Magnus has tons of skill and potential (he’s got 16 points in 18 games at the World Championships) and as soon as the Oilers stop sabotaging him he’ll come into his own. Just watch him playing with Nuge and Ebs in the AHL – he’ll produce.

  • Raider Jesse

    The thing is, he didn’t get the soft minutes, his development wasn’t given every chance to succeed. He was given crap and told to make gravy two years in a row.

    Maybe there’s a conversations to have about our depth chart and whether we need a guy who won’t go into the corners or throw his sizable weight around, but that doesn’t mean in a year we’re tanking we shouldn’t have helped his development at least to the point where he had exceptional trade value.

    There’s no use stock pilling great prospects if all we do is tank their development so that no body around the league wants them (I’m looking at you too Omark).

  • YakCity1039

    @RobinBrownlee PRV is much more than a 40 point, 3rd liner. He’s a top-6 forward with 30-35 goal, 60-70 point potential. Last year was just a fluke for him. He’s gonna be an important part of this team for years to come.

    Another thing, WHAT THE HECK IS FIST!?

  • Citizen David

    I am in no way worried about Paajarvi. He just needs time. Even if he takes three more years of development it doesn’t really bother me. He is big, he’s very fast, he is fairly dependable defensively. I think he will turn into a 55-60 point second liner, very valuable to the team.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    I honestly see the future Oilers top six as Nuge with Yak and Eberle and Player X (not yet found) with Hall and MPS.

    Hall and MPS (once he spends more than enough time in the minors and develops like a Red Wings prospect) on a line together would wreck secondary or top end Dman with their speed. Hall is great on the rush and MPS has the potential. The one thing I do find differently between the two is that Hall finds spots to score from 2 to 5 ft from the net as MPS has shown signs of being a somewhat higher slot player (cause of his defensive game), this obviously once they get the cycle and offensive pressure going. It almost seems like a perfect fit IMO!!! The Oil just really need to find a Kelser (puke) type player to complete a very strong, well rounded line 1A/B.

    With the way the Oilers prospects stack up I just do not see Harti or Pitlick cracking top 6 when everyone is healthy, although those 2 together on a third line would look really sexy as Shultz would say.

    • B S

      I actually prefer Nuge, Hall and Ebs on a line, with MPS, on the 2nd line with Gagner and Yak. People seem to forget, but MPS’ late season point burst in his rookie season came when he was playing with Gagner and Omark despite Omark constantly turning the puck over. This would spread out the scoring and the speed through two lines, as well as draw more penalties.

      Gagner can also be that “Kesler type player”, his stats are comparable (better through first 5 years) and he’s only 6 lbs smaller, he just needs to learn to leverage his weight around when he’s battling in the corners.

      MPS shoots from the higher slot because he has an impressive 1-timer and he needs the extra angle. I agree that with some regular time on the PP he’d make an excellent 4th forward.

      not simply shutdown, Hartikainen, Pitlick, and (if he can get his game together) Hamilton would make a nasty checking line (all 3 can play physical) with a scoring touch.

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        Im still not totally sure if Gagner can be the answer to the second line centermen once this team makes the playoffs. They are going to need some hardnosed top 6 players once they start facing nothing but good teams come the spring. Hall can hit and play wreckless but he cant do it by himself and its basically the odd man out with Gagner for me.

        In saying that about Gagner, I still think he is a good NHL player and if he can change his game and reach a 50 point a season career then there would be nothing to worry about.

        The Oil are built to fly around as fast as they can and make dirty sauce passes. But as everyone knows they arent geared to start running someone through the end boards to turn the puck over. That is what I think the biggest hole on this team is.

  • Raider Jesse

    I have also had agruements with friends on compairing the Oilers prospects with the dynasty Oilers.


    Nuge-Gretz (with a flinch of the eye)




    MacT ????

    Shultz=Coffey (with another huge flinch of the eye)


    Klefbom ????

    Would like to see what other ppl say so I have some backup when another barley soup agruement with my friends happen.

  • Rocknrolla

    Anyone know of a success story comparable to PRV? Someone who was drafted relatively close, good rookie numbers, then brick wall year two. Only to come back after a couple hard working AHL seasons to be a key piece of a great team? Would love to see a comparable…

  • Truth

    Paajarvi will do fine if he stops being so soft. He completely avoids contact at all times. If he doesn’t I don’t believe there will be any place for him on any NHL team. No use in a 3rd or 4th line guy that won’t go in the corners or won’t play the body. He has the tools.

  • When he was properly utilized. MPS could draw penalties like a mofo. Given that nuge guys capacity to go all savant on the PP… an extra try or two would be just ducky.

    However…….. in order to do that MPS needs a center that can get him the puck when he fires the jets not when hes waiting at the far blue line for ham hands to settle the damn thing down, take three looks and flutter bounce it off the boards.

    I do find it a freudian tell that Maggy would use the word “safe” in his self analysis. The boy lacks a set of man sized nards. Give him one of Halls and you have a man beast. In fact.. that might be a plan…. Halls courage is self destructive… maggy lacks…. how difficult can it be.

    *snip snip*

  • The Goalie 1976

    Guys…..come on!

    I am a HUGE Oilers fan as well, but take off the rose coloured glasses. Brownlee’s assessment of PVR as a 3rd liner who can move up when injury strikes is bang on. To me this guy looks just like Radek Dvorak. Super fast, hard on the forcheck, decent hands, but not good enough for top 6 duty on a contending team.

    Instead of putting a square peg into a round hole, why not celebrate the fact that PVR and Lander look like 2 of the 3 pieces to a VERY VERY good 3rd shutdown line. They could be our Peca and Pisani, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Every cup winning team needs an elite shutdown line. That’s probably more important than a below average 2nd line IMHO.

    From what I recall 😉 Peca, Dvorak, MacT all had very long successful careers, playing important roles on good teams. PVR doesn’t (and won’t ever)need to score more than 40 pts to be an impact player.

  • Danenbaum

    What becomes of this OKC top line when Hall returns? Darren Dreger tweeted this morning #4 is about 10 days away from joining team. Does this immediately shuffle MPS to Line 2 or lower? Is Nelson going to go with Hall – Green – Pitlick? My guess is we likely won’t get much time to see what MPS can do with great line mates.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Ya Im to young to have witnessed the glory days of the Oilers unfortunately.

    Also its just kinda interesting to see how that Oilers team was built and how this Oilers team is being assembled right now. Obviously 4 to 5 years down the road 80% of the players I compaired arent going to have a career like the glory Oilers did.

    I find it interesting the different formulas of players that past cup championship teams have won with. Recently speaking Boston, Anaheim won by basically bullying there opposition, Detriot Pitts won by having so much depth and skill in all areas of the game, La and Chicago won by having younger superstars and extremely good depth with a bit of everything.

    Obviously the Oilers won their cups by having insane talent in all areas of the game, Islanders won by having great talent all throughout the lineup aswell. Those last two dynasty (IMO) teams imnparticular somewhat created a formula for certain teams to win the cup. Im talking about when Detriot and Colorado won their cups in the late 90’s early 2000’s. They haad more than one superstar on their team with insane talent littered throughtout their lineup. Pittsburg is a team from todays NHL that is a compairable to the glory Oilers.

    What Im trying to get at is this Oilers team with its high draft choices and great scouting recently, has been able to put together a team simulair to the 80’s Oilers and more recently the Detriot championship teams.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Considering MPS has already gotten 3rd line points in the NHL at 19 or 20, I think his ceiling is much higher than that. Granted, I am a huge MPS fan…but even in that year he only received good ice-time once the big guns all got hurt – at which point he delivered better than expected. Let’s just say that without him at the end of the year we would have had NO offence.

    Last year was a one-off. I’m actually going to take it easy on the coaches here.

    I see him as a perfect #2 winger…the kind that other teams only dreamed they had! I don’t believe that comparisons to Dvorak, etc, are valid though as they played here and got those points after many years in the league. While I agree that players like Pisani are important, I think that with MPS you are looking at a different type of player once he matures. IMO likely looking at 40 pts minimum, and maybe close to a point-per-game player in his prime.

    I see him as more of a Kurri-type player – although it’s partly a bogus comparison. Why? Well, mainly because of the immense defensive responsibility both had at young ages. They both will also be pretty strong, though neither will likely ever be accused of using their size to run people through the boards, though they would be capable of it if it was in their blood. Responsible players with total commitment and effort in every game and on every shift! I know it’s a bogus comparison in that MPS lacks Kurri’s wicked one-timer/slap shot, admittedly. That said, Kurri NEVER had MPS’s speed either, so that will be interesting to see, when he gets to play with the talent #17 played with…if he ever does here.

    PLEASE do NOT waste this guy’s talent, beloved Oilers, and play him with talent, and be #(#%!& patient with him! I believe he will be a huge part of the success of our team – in time.

    note: Loved seeing him play with #83 – only natural fit I’ve ever seen for Hemsky on our current roster.