Iiro Pakarinen: Right time, right place?


I haven’t written much about Iiro Pakarinen because I don’t know a lot about him, really – YouTube clips, assorted scouting reports, plus the fact that Edmonton felt strongly enough about him to sign the winger to a two-year entry-level deal.

There are some interesting points, though, and in considering the roster I wonder if he isn’t well-set to mount a challenge for an NHL job in 2014-15.

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The Interesting Points

There are a few:

  • He’s a volume shooter. We noted this when Edmonton signed him; he was shooting more than four times per game in Finland, which indicates both a welcome willingness to unleash the puck and enough time at the right end of the rink with possession to run up some big shot totals.
  • Apparently he’s quite physical. Hockey’s Future describes him as a “sand paper player” and says he “prefers the physical elements of the game” and that his “abrasiveness has gained him both attention and notoriety from scouts.”
  • He’s reasonably big. Lowetide noted the other day that the NHL lists him at 6’1”, 205 pounds, while in that initial piece we noted that the SM-Liiga’s official site had him at 6’1”, 195 pounds. Either way, he’s 6’-plus and in the 200-pound range, which isn’t massive but isn’t small, either – particularly if Hockey’s Future has his style down accurately.
  • There are indications that he has a clue about the defensive game. The piece on his signing linked above notes a shorthanded goal last season, while Elite Prospects calls him “a hard worker and versatile player who can also play as a defenceman.”

It’s important not to overstate these snippets. We’re looking at scouting reports of uncertain reliability (both Hockey’s Future and Elite Prospects tend to vary widely in their accuracy depending on who the individual writer was) and the snippets of information provided by the stats kept by Finland’s top league. They’re indicators; they aren’t definitive or close to it.

But the picture painted is of a 23-year-old right-shooting forward with decent size who can play either wing, and who has a combination of nastiness, defensive ability and a shooter’s mindset. We know from his scoring totals that offensive skill is probably going to be a bit of an issue, but there are plenty of players with modest offensive capacity who made the show because they knew how to take care of their own end and enjoyed the physical elements of the game.

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The Interesting Opportunity

Joensuu, Jesse

Pakarinen’s skillset is particularly interesting because based on what has been said this summer and the players under contract it looks like there’s going to be a bit of a dogfight for one position in the top 12. We can list with a reasonable degree of confidence the nine players likely to inhabit the nine spots on the Oilers’ three scoring lines, and we can name the duo that will likely anchor their defensive zone specialty line. What we don’t know is who will join Matt Hendricks and Boyd Gordon there.

There are some obvious possibilities. Anton Lander, Luke Gazdic, Jesse Joensuu, Tyler Pitlick and Steve Pinizzotto all have things working in their favour, and all are reasonable candidates to slot in somewhere between 12-14 on the Oilers roster. None of them are ironclad, sure-thing NHL’ers, though and there just might be an opening for a training camp surprise to move past them.

In general terms, a nasty winger with some skill, some size and a defensive conscience sounds like a pretty good fit for the right wing job next to Gordon and Hendricks. Lowetide has Pakarinen down as having something like a one-in-four chance; I wouldn’t go that high but if he comes to camp and looks like the guy the snippets of information discussed above describe I could change my mind in a hurry.

  • Spoils

    Im really pulling for Lander or Pitlick to grab that spot but I have a feeling Pinizzotto is going to.be right there aswell. Love his grit and sandpaper also he’ll stand up for his team mates and isnt afraid to drop the gloves. Theres a lot to like there

    • Craig1981

      There were times I watched pinizotto and thought “wow, why isn’t he 80 the NHL yet?” Then I started focusing on him. Lots of give-aways when he was pressed and lots of times he just couldn’t get it out of the zone. I get why people like him and cheer for him, but I just don’t think he is more than a call up on a playoff team

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    well he scored against Scrivens, so I instantly don’t like him, but I can be swayed with awesomeness if he ‘brings it’ at training camp. Am hoping for some pleasant surprises (Nurse, Dr. Dre, and maybe a couple forwards too) that get their ticket to the big show.

    • Randaman

      I really had to laugh at the amount of trashes you received on your comment. It’s so obvious that all you Arco supporters actually believe he is the answer at #2C. When November arrives you will be the ones that will be bitching that MacT hasn’t done his job by filling this GAPING HOLE in the line up. Realism has left the building obviously!!

  • Concur

    I think that MacT brought Iiro in just to provide competition/insurance/incentive for that last spot. Too bad he hasn’t done that yet for the center position…

  • Spoils

    This guy sounds extremely interesting to me, especially the abrasiveness parts!!! The depth on the wings is insane. Even more insane is the depth down the middle! This organization is backasswards


    So conceivably the Oilers have like 4 or 5 guys fighting it out for one defensive line spot. I know we’re shallow at centre, but it seems like as early as next year depending on development, that might not be the case. And I know the defence is nothing extraordinary, but with the arrival of Nurse and Klefbom this year or next, I’d say the team is definitely turning around, and the line up is being solidified. I just hope whomever they bring in to fill that spot with Gordon and Hendricks maybe does better than expected, giving management options for the wings next year.


    What does it say about our pro development if two of our fourth year pros (Lander and Pitlick) aren’t more ready to play a third or fourth line role on a non play-off NHL team than a couple of teenagers?

    For 99% of players it takes year(s) and very hard work to be a regular player in the NHL. Playing Lander and Pitlick at the next level does not seem like a huge leap. It also tells all future College FA and the future second to sixth round draft picks you have come to great organization.


    Can hardly wait till his first multiple goal game , and watch the fans breakout with the new dance craze – The Pakarinna . Hey pakarinna , pakarinna ,pakarinna , hey pakarinna . Sung and danced like the old makarinna . They’ll be dancing in the stands .

  • Jayz

    When will fans/media learn that one players does not make a team. The only way this team sees daylight is when they buy in to a system of controlled methodical defensive play. No individual crap. Period . First player to but himself before the team this year should be crucified, no matter who it is. Look to NJ, LA, Boston for models of teams who have a good turnover year after year but still maintain lofty positions.

    Reasons why teams like Edm Toronto find themselves in the bottom year after year is because the core deems the defensive side to be less important than the offensive side of the puck. Eakins knows this and preaches it I’m sure daily but until Hall Yak and Perron get on the same page the team is doomed for failure.

    Ps. When was the last time a undrafted player from Europe worked out for us and stuck around for more than a couple years? Let’s move on now plz

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      All the successful play-off teams have
      goals against numbers that would blow the lights out in the arena! Somehow this does not translate in the Oiler system?Perhaps some of these guys need reminting that they are no longer in the Junior/College systems.

      I have pointed this several times now.. LAK was the No.1 team in the Goals against stats, yet their goals for was one less than the Oilers. [ we know where their numberis.. No.30]

  • Jayz

    Hopefully he’s not just the next Lennart Petrell. I’m all for a good surprise making the team but I’m not sure it matters too much who our 4th line RW to start the season is. All of the aforementioned players will likely get a cameo in the NHL this season.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ^agreed! or the next Antti Tyrvainen….only 5′ 10″ but 200 pounds was a tree stump and had grit to his game but never got a sniff with the big club!

  • Spydyr

    Pakarinen could be a guy you put anywhere on the depth chart. He could be a solid 3rd line winger. If Yak or Perron get injured im sure Pakarinen could fill in on the 2nd line. You can put him on the blueline on the PP with that shot

    • The Last Big Bear

      There must be some confusion here.

      This article is about the Iiro Pakarinen who is a grinder from the Finnish league. The one who just had a breakout season where posted a career-high of 10 assists.

      You seem to be confusing him with Curtis Glencross or someone like that.

  • Tikkanese

    I think the door will be closed due to the fact that Lander, Pitlick and Joensuu all have to clear waivers to be sent down. Unless this kid or someone else is lights out better than everyone else.

    Gazdic will be an automatic as the extra forward as well.