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

  • RexLibris

    I would wait to see who becomes available through waivers at the start of the season before making a trade. Phoenix has too many guys to keep with the big club.

  • RexLibris

    It had better be a high quality return on Magnus P (and package) deal; as it would be Oil luck to have him put it all together (thinking Miro Satan) and light it up somewhere else. MEMO: Why rush these kids into the show, only to give up on them when/if they have a “sour” year. It’s all about patience and development. Great move to ship him to OKC last year. Calm down everyone. We may risk throwing out the baby with the bathwater!!

  • Wax Man Riley

    Just to throw it out there…..

    TSN has a poll of “Which Player is Better?”

    Eberle vs. Kessel

    Apparently The Center of The Universe is out in all of it’s fury, and Kessel is ahead.

    Let’s help Ebs out. Click here to help out!

    EDIT: I will also post this on the next article for those who miss it here.

  • Lexi

    Interestingly enough the WJC final from 2009 is on TSN2. MPS and Mikael Backlund look like Sweden’s best players and Eberle and Hodgson look like Canada’s best. Fascinating to see how different the directions certain guy’s careers have taken. Canada’s D is Hickey (Canada’s captain), Teubert, Subban, Myers, Golbuff, Aulie and Ellis. Tavares and Angelo Esposito are on the 1st line.

    I’ve got to think MPS will be solid as either a 2nd or 3rd liner and as long as we don’t worry about the fact that he might be a bit of a disappointment for 10th pick. Now if he is the key to a trade that gets us someone like Enstrom or Bowmesster fine, but unless he helps get us a legit top 4 or big two way Centre, I think they should keep him.

  • nuge2drai

    OILER DOMINATION TO FOLLOW

    I would like to see Magnus on a line with Hopkins and Eberle – unless hes in a package deal for Yandle.

    The Mag had a solid rookie season, and a sophmore slump – cut the kid some slack

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    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.

  • Jason Gregor

    Paajarvi will not be enough to bring a regular top-4 D-man…

    He would be part of a package, but he’s not proven enough on his own to garner that at this point.

    • Wax Man Riley

      Personally, I wouldn’t be willing to move Paajarvi for that player unless it’s a guy that can play top pairing, even though that probably means EDM is adding. For a 2nd pairing guy, I’d rather just keep Paajarvi unless the D still had some upside and/or a decent contract/term.

      • John Chambers

        It seems you could add a 2nd pairing guy for very little (as NYI did getting Visnovski for a 2nd rounder), or signing a Colaiaccovo or Roszival.

        So I agree with you – it’s only worthwhile to part with Paajarvi’s talent if it’s going to deliver you a top-pair guy in return, even if it also costs you the 2nd rounder we obtained from Anaheim.

    • Wax Man Riley

      I don’t know Gregor.

      My sources are telling me Pittsburgh covets him and would be willing to part with Letang or Crosby to get him…but only if they throw in Omark. He would be key in the deal as well.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I think Paajarvi still needs some time to realize he has NHL size and speed.

    Hey JW,

    Sources inside the organization say they don’t want to give up on this kid as they think he has tremendous upside and are willing to wait and develop him.

    However, some teams say the same thing. Calgary likes him and are in no rush to get better (see Jankowski), but are afraid of what JBo will be to play against in EDM.

    You can use that for your twitter, btw

    #ImAnInsiderToo

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Of course, you’re not in a hurry to move a player like PRV, but if the right piece comes along (Weber/Gudbranson type) then it has to be a no brainer.

    Not sure if i mentioned it but only if Weber or Gudbranson are up for grabs.

    Weber or Gudbranson……WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    BTW, where’s ON’s own real NHL insider Wax Man Riley?

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    In my opinion, his speed and size suggest he could be an excellent second line player, if he could muster the jam and bring it to the net hard. No more of that around-the-net swoop stuff, maybe Krueger can motivate him to cut in more and drive the play to the crease.

    • Joy S. Lee

      My sentiments exactly. Not if, but when Paajarvi learns to drive to the net, he becomes a huge asset, and especially on this team. It’s a team that attacks in waves, and if they’re going in to follow up a net drive, they’re going in to clean up the chaos Paajarvi leaves behind.

      Not to mention, we’re talking about sick speed and skating. He’s not a sniper, but this guy will be very valuable in a multitude of other ways. I know I’m different than many, but I consider him a vital cog — in an understated sort of way — if this machine is to deliver Stanley.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If Paajarvi becomes a good 2nd/3rd line player that can help drive possession but doesn’t record a bunch of points, that’s probably a player you want to keep because he’s unlikely to cost a ton of money yet he’s still valuable to your team.