Not much was known about Iiro Pakarinen the day he signed with the Edmonton Oilers, beyond he’s a Finn and that’s a good thing for the Edmonton Oilers (ALL of the good things that have happened in franchise history included a Finn in the Fotto).
He camp to training camp, impressed, and was sent to the minors. Where he’s raising hell.
THE SCOUTING REPORT
Before he was signed by the Oilers, a couple of trusted sources had information available on Pakarinen. Elite Prospects (from 2012 via Matias Strozyk) and Kirk Leudeke from the period before he was drafted:
Elite Prospects: A large winger shooting from his
right. An energetic player with good skating and a nice frame. Possesses
a good sharp, wrist shot and is a solid finisher. A hard worker and
versatile player who can also play as a defenceman.
Kirk Luedeke: Has nice size, should add some bulk and get
stronger. Heavy feet with a choppy stride, but decent straight-line
speed. Needs to pick up the initial burst to have a shot at the NHL.
Keeps his stick on the ice and goes to the net well. Opportunistic
scorer throughout; managed to be in right place at right time and made
his opportunities count. OK defensively; doesn’t do anything to stand
out in his own end.
Pakarinen was chosen by Florida in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. He played parts of five seasons in the SM-Liiga and signed a two-year deal in June. Earlier this week, I had a chance to ask Eric Rodgers (who covers the Barons) about Pakarinen:
- Eric Rodgers, Tend The Farm: “He is a beast. He has that scoring touch you want to see in a bigger forward. He has a lot of similarities to Teemu Hartikainen, bigger body—using it very well—but certainly has that scoring touch.”
The mention of Hartikainen by both Luedeke and Rodgers may raise some concern in regard to foot speed issues. Neal Livingston (also from Tend the Farm) has this to say:
- Iiro Pakarinen is a forward, wide-shouldered and gruff, but boy does
he have skill. If you thought Hartikainen had skating problems,
Pakarinen clearly doesn’t. He has a thick shot, is highly energized to
buzz the net, and has the ability to know exactly where to stand in
front of opposing goaltenders. His
defensive game is probably my favorite talking point, however. He is the
definition of “defensive responsibility”, and is eager to quickly pump
his legs the other direction to hornswoggle a forward or two. This might
be the one thing that sets Iiro apart from previous Finns, and
certainly from Teemu Hartikainen. Better player? To be triumphantly
stated at a later date, but I think we are on to something.
I believe Livingston may have coined the nickname ‘Iiro the Hero’ but can’t confirm.
Pakarinen is enjoying a massive start to the AHL season, scoring 5-3-8 in 6 games to start the year. He’s an early contender for top scoring rookie in the league:
The Oilers don’t need a winger currently, but Pakarinen is impressing
and should the opportunity arise, it’s certainly possible he’s edging
ahead of men like Tyler Pitlick and Steve Pinizzotto (who played in the
NHL last season) for recall. The signing by the Oilers absolutely added to their pro depth, and they may have found a future NHLer in the SM-Liiga for only dollars. It could be a massive bargain and is certainly a good bet.
(Parkarinen photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).