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.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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…

  • 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).