When it comes to building hockey teams, I’m a firm believer that (to the extent possible in a salary cap world) every general manager should be a pessimist. If it’s a 50/50 bet that a player can recover from an injury, or return to his offensive form, or stay healthy, the G.M. should bet against his player. That way, if things go badly, he’s covered; if things go well, he has a pleasant surprise that can either help his team win or can be used to address an area of weakness.
That proclivity for pessimism is why I think the Oilers would be well-advised not to start Magnus Paajarvi in a scoring role next season.
We looked at Magnus Paajarvi’s shooting percentage during the lockout; the chart above is an update on what was done there. While it’s true that going to the net with the puck is an evolving part of his game, and could help produce more robust shooting percentage numbers going forward, it’s not something I would be comfortable betting on at this point.
Until proven otherwise, Paajarvi just isn’t a good enough shooter to be relied on in a scoring role, despite his uptick in the NHL in 2013.
The Other Things Paajarvi Brings
I’m going to include a Todd Nelson quote from the Dec. 10 edition of Oilers Now because I think it nicely sums up the development of Paajarvi as a player this season:
[Paajarvi’s goal-scoring is] a bit of a concern. You and I talked about the process, right? He’s doing some good things that he wasn’t doing last year. He’s finishing all his checks – he’s not killing guys but he’s being very consistent with that, where last year it was not very consistent. And he’s taking the puck to the net, he’s driving the puck to the net, he’s not afraid to go to the danger areas. I think that part of the game will come, he’s had some very good opportunities and just hasn’t found the back of the net yet.
Paajarvi’s willingness to go to the net was one of the things that Oilers’ head coach Ralph Krueger highlighted over the course of the year, too; he was repeatedly quoted on broadcasts as saying that Paajarvi was the Oilers’ most consistent forward when it came to crashing the crease.
The addition of an increased willingness to use his frame was a nice development for a player who does a lot of things well already. Outside of his shot, Paajarvi is certainly a plus player with the puck; he has pretty good vision and the combination of his speed and his willingness to skate the puck up the ice is highly valuable. He’s also defensive-minded (almost to a fault) which is an excellent asset in a third-line player, though it isn’t always in a top-six guy.
Paajarvi’s a player I have a lot of time for. He just doesn’t seem like a guy who drives offence; he’s a complementary player who can move up as needed at this stage of his career but not a guy who should be relied on in a scoring role.
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Recently around the Nation Network
There’s some interesting stuff up lately – for instance, the Canucks Army Podcast recently had Jim Hughson on as a guest – but in light of the comments section on Lowetide’s piece last night I thought it couldn’t hurt to remind everyone that Nashville isn’t likely to trade Shea Weber:
Ultimately, it comes down to this: either the Predators made a terrible mistake, Poile’s being disingenuous, and the team plans to try and get a better return than four first round picks after spending $27 million for 48 games or they really have no plans to trade Weber. The latter seems more likely to be reality than the former. None of that means the Oilers shouldn’t ask, but it does mean not much is likely to come of it.
Click either link above to read more, or check out some recent pieces here at Oilers Nation: