Ralph Krueger sees Magnus Paajarvi as “Ryan Jones on a good day”

Magnus Paajarvi’s place in the Edmonton Oilers’ rebuild has fluctuated significantly since the team drafted him with the 10th overall selection at the 2009 NHL Draft. On Monday, new head coach Ralph Krueger made it clear how he envisioned the talented Swede contributing to the team, both this year and into the future.

The player that Krueger highlighted was Ryan Jones. After acknowledging that the two players had different skillsets, Krueger stressed that Jones’ ability to play any role was exactly what the team needed to get from Paajarvi:

If you think of Jonesy last year, jumping into the power play, playing penalty kill, going in front of the net, being on breakouts, he was a multi-player. I believe Magnus Paajarvi’s somebody who could play up the lineup eventually, but he could give you some penalty-killing time. That’s what we’re working on with him, really to widen his horizons – he came from a very offensive past – and you often will have players like that need some time to evolve.

It’s a view that few Oilers fans would likely disagree with these days. Paajarvi is blessed with significant talent – he can skate with practically anybody in the game, he has the frame of a power forward, and his skills with the puck are undeniable – but in both the NHL and AHL has seemed unable to score consistently. What he has done is impressed with his willingness to back-check and his commitment to getting to the defensive zone ahead of the play – ideal qualities in a defensively responsible forward.

Unlike a lot of defensive forwards, however, Paajarvi has real offensive abilities, even if the numbers haven’t matched the skillset to this point in his career. His ability to carry the puck up ice is an asset on any line, as is his vision. When Ralph Krueger says that he eventually envisions him as “Ryan Jones on a good day” – i.e., a more talented version of the Oilers’ current utility winger – he’s talking about a player who might primarily play a third-line role but who has the necessary range to handle whatever assignment the team asks of him.

For now, though, Paajarvi’s being asked to work on his versatility and penalty-killing while filling a less glamorous role – that of AHL call-up. While agreeing that the injury to Ryan Jones creates an opportunity, Krueger also emphasized that Paajarvi at this point is mostly seen as a replacement option rather than an everyday NHL’er. Part of the camp, he explained, was identifying which players would be brought up in the event of injury:

We have to be prepared also for what are we going to do if things happen, who is going to come up. Even players who return to Oklahoma City this weekend don’t need to be disappointed; they know they’re in the mix and very quickly we could need them. Magnus would be exactly that kind of a filler player who we could see in a lot of different roles.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • 24% body fat

    What do you thing the chances are Paajarvi doesn’t pan out? I feel as though he has been lackluster the last couple years. I realize he has had quite the learning curve, which is understandable. My fear has always been he may fall short of the goals/hopes placed on him.

    • I think Paajarvi’s an NHL player, honestly, and probably a roster guy right now if you ignore development needs and role assignments.

      I get sending him down to Oklahoma – particularly to get some more experience on the PK – and I also get that Krueger’s plan calls for a “heavy” fourth line, but there’s little doubt in my mind that Magnus Paajarvi today is a better player than Lennart Petrell and some other guys on the NHL roster.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        He’s better than Petrell… but at his tender age he needs more TOI than Petrell is going to get and if he is up for any considerable length of time he’ll be in danger of a few healthy scratches, which won’t serve anyone very well.

        I’d like to see him in the AHL all year barring injury (which will happen anyway).

  • BigBurgers

    Paajarvi is certainly a polarizing player. His skill-set screams “offensive dynamo”, but sadly he’s resorted to using his talents in other capacities. Maybe this is what the team needs though. Here’s hoping…

  • aeiouY

    great assessment of paajarvi! If he can take a page out of ladi smid’s book and focus his game in a new direction (like a david legwand or jeff halpburn type player) he could be a a crucial 3rd line player for our oilers for years on this team—- with the ability to jump up in the lineup when needed.
    I think this is what the organization is trying to do with him. Let’s hope he can fill the role. It is waaaaaaaaay to early to give up on such a young dynamic player. Especially with his unbelievable attitude and his swedish routes to compliment klefbomb and potentially lander in the dressing room.

    One other quick thought. This is going to sound “anti oiler way”. But I really hope that kreuger implements a trapping style of hockey for this upcoming season. With such an insane schedule, I believe that a trapping system will allow players to conserve energy over the long haul. The trap will be able to keep games close every night and score with speed on the counter attack.
    Not to mention I believe we have the players to gain those all important shoot out points that a trapping system would lend itself towards

  • geoilersgist

    MP is a 3rd line guy in the NHL. For now. Dan Cleary? It may be that he takes more time than we thought to develop him. He has the skill set. We’ll see. Send him back to OKC to fill the first line role. Also would Phil Cornet now move up the ladder. He and a couple of other guys playing in Stockton should get a promotion. It should be interesting in OKC for the second half who steps up with the absence of the BIG 4.

  • Many NHL checking forwards are first rounders who couldn’t score enough in the NHL to play purely offensive minutes.

    If PRV turns into Petr Sykora, that is a very valuable player.

    His skating and puck skills allow him to play up and down the line up as well.

    Can be a very valuable player that doesn’t cost as much as the offensive kids.

    I hope he’s an Oiler for a long time.

    • Ducey

      I agree.

      I’d like to see MPS sent down to OKC and get big minutes in all situations this season. He was rushed once already.

      Next season he can take Jones’ spot on the third line with Smyth and Horcoff. Ideally Jones plays a 4th line role next season and Petrell is let go. That would give the coach 3 wingers (Smyth, MPS, and Jones) that are able to play in almost all situations.

  • Remember Bob Bourne (pre knee operation) from those incredible Islander teams.
    MPS should get a video disk of that dude.

    He was the epitome of superior speed used in a defensive capacity and chipped in a bit (occasionally a lot) on the offensive end.

  • Concur

    PRV is a keeper that is for sure, he lacks a goal scoring touch but as has been mentioned the puck goes the right way with him. He can gain the zone an provide passes and plays for the shooter types (Hall, Yakupov). His defensive aware is good for any line that he is on. All he needs is seasoning and for the pressure to be off him and he will flourish.

  • RyanCoke

    Wow fans have short memories. What he did in his first year, playing on the third and fourth line was outstanding. Sure he hit a slump, but I think he was mismanaged last year, and is unable to crack the lineup because of all the better options.
    I see one of two things happening with him. He gets called up to fill an injury, and uses that opportunity to show he belongs. Or, he gets traded and uses that opportunity to show we made a mistake trading him.
    Having said that he is tough to watch live in the offensive zone. He just gets rubbed off the puck so quick. Physical play is not his thing, which is too bad because when he goes to the net he gets great chances.

  • 24% body fat

    This will spark a debate.

    Remember this

    Yet Gagner and Nuge are critisized for together not having enough grit or sandpaper.

    Yet the Canucks are going with Sedin and SCHROEDER! lol as their number one and two centers.

    Jordan Schroeder! That all I can say. 5’9″ 175

    .58ppg in the AHL. That good for like 25 in the NHL on and 82 game schedule.

    Cant wait to see DSF stick up for this guy. Or defend the center depth of the contenders that are the canucks.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    I think it takes defensive forwards a little bit longer to develop into NHL players. Let’s not forget that he’s only a year younger than Taylor Hall.

    I don’t have a problem with PRV honing his defensive game first and foremost, and there’s nothing wrong with him doing so in the AHL given the NHL depth we have on the wings. Once he gets comfortable enough in his game that his line is consistently out-chancing the opposition, the offense will come organically.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Hopefully, PRV takes that comparison the right way.

    Remember a few years ago when someone suggested to Andrew Cogliano that, if he adjusted his game a bit, he could serve the same kind of role that Todd Marchant did so well in Edmonton for several years.

    As I recall, Cogliano sort of turned his nose up at the comparison. I don’t remember specifically what he said, but it was something along the lines of “well, thanks for the advise, but I think I’m better offensively than that.”

    And, of course, we all know what happened after that. Cogliano stagnated – despite all-world speed, he provided neither the offence he thought he could nor the defence everyone else thought he should. And he was gonzo to Anaheim.

    Here’s hoping PRV takes the Jones comparison to heart.

    • geoilersgist

      Cogs said he might score 30 goals in 2009-10 I think it was. MPS’s speed is different, more dynamic and better acceleration. Will say though he still needs to work on using it a little more dynamically, keeping the D off balance, be less predictable.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    First,I think when it comes to European players, they take a fair bit of time to adjust to the style of play in North America. I also think that MPS didn’t benefit from a clearly defined role until maybe last year and now hes also trying to adjust to that. I think he will end up being like Harti. Work on a lot of different things in the AHL and eventually be ready for the big show. No worries

    Just gonna say it straight up….. I think Hemksy and Gags are going to have a great season. Just a feeling.

  • paul wodehouse

    Ralph…my mother used to say …

    comparisons are odious…i’m not a PRV fan but wow… a tenth overall pick standing beside a waiver pickup and y’say that ?

    way to bolster 91s’ confidence… and here i thought you had your head on straight…i’m guessing that’s PRV on the trading block…

  • Oilfan69

    Hey JW I was wondering and I don’t think it’s possible as it would be hard to get all the right variables but it would be interesting to be able to calculate a goalies save percentage based on which defenders are out in front of them. I guess it would be skewed due to some defencemen being tagged more for PK duty when you’re more likely to be scored on but it sure would be an interesting stat.

    Seing DD has a .940 sv% with smid out there vs a .875 with peckham or something.

    I think the problem would be that shots would have to be time stamped and you would have to know who was on the ice at any given moment.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I dont get for one minute why people use the term bust with Magnus. They need to the look at the list of players drafted 10th overall and realize that a good portion of guys dont make it. MPS is a second or third liner, with wicked speed to burn and is defensively responsible.

    The Oil mishandled last year, benched him when they should of.sent him to OKC. When they finally did send him to OKC after plenty of pine chaffing on his swedish backside, it made no sense. It destroyed his confidence. The problem is that they misevaluated him, gave him no defined role, benched him, and then sent him away. He was happy to go cause the kid just wanted to play.
    Does everyone remember what happened after he started to.get benched. No powerplays. The Oilers sucked because they could not.draw any. Magnus has always been a magnate for them. Outside of Hall, who draws more of them. Guys can’t keep with him.

    People look at his numbers in.OKC and said he was.not producing after being taken off the first PP. However I look at it as he was one maybe two guys who provided any secondary scoring. Magnus is not an elite sniper. The Oil need to define his role and people got to accept that he is what he is, a complimentary forward occasionally with.the.ability to dazzle.you. Hes a two.way forward. He should be on your second or.third line, first line PK, second PP, playing 17 mins a nite. He should be a 40 point guy.

    Think of him a Mason Raymond.Two way third line speedster. Hes definitely no bust. Potential 20 goal guy,nothing wrong.with that.

    • DSF

      He’s actually much more like Jannik Hansen than he is Raymond.

      Raymond already has a 25 goal season under his belt.

      Hansen is a third line defensive forward with great speed and can PK.

      If Paajarvi can add some physicality to his game and get his shooting percentage up, Hansen is likely his ceiling.

      • DSF

        Raymond had one year at 25G. The rest are around 12G (playing mostly on second line). I would say MPS is already at the same level as Hanson, with a good chance of being better than Raymond.

        Give MPS till he is 23 before you judge him. I feel you can’t accurately judge a Foward till he is 23. Defensive man 25.

        This will be a really telling year for the oilers.

        Why do people hate on Euros? The game is different over there. You need to give guys a chance to adjust. Petrell I’m looking at you.

        Also I’m curious to see how Omark will do for the rest of the year.

  • DSF

    What a pleasure to see a positive article written about this player. So much has been written about what he isn’t. What I see (through admittedly aged eyes)is our version of Bob Gainey, a fast skating, intelligent occational goal scorer that can reliably counter another team’s stars in a checking role. I think in Ralph K we have a coach that can glimpse the same thing. Godspeed Magnus.

  • vetinari

    Paajarvi just needs a little time and support to round into a two way player… think of the players who teams would have lost out on if they would have jettisonned them prematurely and before they reached their full potential… Arnott, Cleary, Brodziak, Greene, Stoll, Bergeron, Poti… oh wait, those guys were all quality players that the Oilers failed to see through to their best years… should we add Paajarvi to that list? If Yakupov doesn’t score at least 20 goals by the end of the season, should we add him too to the “bust pile”?

  • Ducey

    Awesome! CBC is replacing Mark Lee and Kevin Weekes on western broadcasts.

    I absolutely detested Mark Lee’s game calling of Oilers’ games – to the extent that I complained to CBC a few times about him.

    A great day!

    • justDOit

      Yup, couldn’t get much worse than Glum and Glummer, IMO. Hrudey isn’t too bad, but I don’t know anything about the other new guy, except that he’s a Vanlandia broadcaster.

  • Ducey

    Very interesting comments from Krueger, and again I am pleasantly surprised with how clear he is. I would have thought Paajarvi was a pretty safe bet for the 3rd line roster spot until Jones comes back, but this verbal makes it sound like he is going to be sent down. Not a bad idea, since he has ironing out to do, but that means they are going to keep VandeVelde with the big club for the time being, if it’s true that they are going with 14F, which I believe Krueger mentioned before.

    I don’t see VandeVelde as more than replacement level, now or ever, as a 4C and am a bit unnerved that he will be starting the season in the NHL, if indeed that is the plan. Hopefully it at least lights a fire under Belanger. There are a handful of Barons who I think who would be more useful in the NHL, even at this stage in their games.

  • Ducey

    In addition to being great on the PK, and being responsible in his own end, Paajarvi does one thing very well that is really going to help the Oilers win: draws penalties. He’s so fast that when he’s skating into the zone, which he did more of this year, defenders often make bad choices to try and stop him. For a team that is going to lean heavily on the success of its special teams, I see a very important role for Magnus. The guy can get us on the power play, and help us when we’re on the pk. Specialty players like this are really important for a team’s success during the regular season.

  • 24% body fat

    I have stated this many many times now.. Paajarvi
    should be converted to a centerman!. Skates like the wind, great puck handler, can make plays and is defensively responsible. Send him back to
    OKC, and school him in face offs. This could be your center with size for years to come.
    I dont recall the Oilers remodling or developing players to much. Honestly Gagner is playing the same way he did five years ago… where is player development. If you cant teach a guy to be a PK speicalist, you can teach him to be a centerman.

  • aeiouY

    Speaking of VandeVelde at centre (for TC), what about sending Belanger down to OKC? I believe he has two more years on his contract and is a total nonproducer. It may encourage him to seek a trade through his agent or perhaps have the Oilers lose him on waivers. It would save some salary against the cap and open a spot for a deserving Baron.

    With the addition of Fistric the Oilers just got a little bit tougher to play against and gives the Oil another real NHL defenceman. If Whitney can play to his capacity, D is looking much better.

    There is still a big hole at centre, what is the status or Arnott? Would he help in the short term? Remember when the club picked up Oates, it was a real plus.

    The club is stuck with Khabibulin (Tambellini’s MVP), Eager, Hordichuk and Pettrel. Will Krueger really give playing time to these duds? It could be the difference of making or missing the playoffs, again.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Finally some honesty from inside the Oilers organization on Paajarvi. Bottom six potential on a good day, says everything we need to know about Magnus. He must see this too, he’s sure busting his backside at practice so far. Another blown pick in that 10 spot may be imminant.

  • aeiouY

    I like MPS, but he is Ryan Jones having a bad day. Jones has the ability to score nearly 20 goals playing 3rd line minutes, can kill penalties, can be put out in the final minute with a lead, and will drop the gloves to stand up for himself.

    I also disagree with Willis’ assessment of Petrell. He has done everything asked of him with very few minutes. I’m willing to guess if Petrell got the minutes MPS has in the AHL, he would put up better offensive numbers at this point in time. MPS has much more upside but we are talking about right now.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Paajarvi is among our 12 best forwards right now and I definitely have time for him. I agree with Krueger’s assessment that Paajarvi needs to adjust to whatever role the Oilers need of him. He is a solid complimentary player and by all accounts is a good team guy so he should have no problem finding a role. I think his speed and defensive play would be a huge asset for our PK.