Edmonton Oilers fans have fresh new names to discuss this summer and we’re all anticipating Connor McDavid’s arrival this fall. Added to the gifted incumbents (you know their names) and the grizzled veterans (you know them too, not sure they’d like being called grizzled) there’s not much room up front for youth not named Connor or Leon. There might be room for one name, though. His name is Iiro.
The natural order of things suggested last fall that the kids who turned pro in 2011 would be graduating to the NHL. For the Oilers, that would have been Tyler Pitlick,
Anton Lander, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale and Cameron Abney. For multiple reasons, some or all of those men would find the 2014-15 season a revelation, and for outsiders like Pakarinen career opportunity would come knocking.
Iiro Pakarinen arrived at Edmonton Oilers training camp and spent the entire time getting noticed in a good way. That’s important for a prospect without a lot of history with the coach, and Pakarinen showed speed, skill and aggressiveness right off the plane. NHL coaches like sturdy wingers with speed who play a rugged game, like them even more if they can score. Iiro Pakarinen had a solid training camp.
- Dallas Eakins September 2014: “(Pakarinen) seems to be getting under a fair number of our guys’ skin, we like to see that. We like to see the compete, he’s come as advertised.” Source
AHL TO START!
Pakarinen’s season saw him spend time in Oklahoma City and Edmonton, while also suffering a knee injury. Here’s how it looked as it happened:
- October in Oklahoma City: 6GP, 5-3-8, three power-play goals and 19 shots
- November in Edmonton: 5GP, 1-0-1
Pakarinen on his first NHL goal:“I don’t even remember. I was a little bit shocked. It was so fast
of a situation. I jumped on the ice and the rebound was there and I
tried to shoot as hard as I can.” Source
- November in Oklahoma City: 7GP, 3-1-4
- December in Oklahoma City: 13GP, 2-3-5
- January in Oklahoma City: 13GP, 7-4-11
- February in Edmonton: 12GP, 0-2-2
Notice the offensive spikes in OKC just before each recall—he forced their hands by playing so well there was no other choice. When does draft pedigree stop counting? The day after the draft, or at least that should be the case.
FEBRUARY 28, 36 SECONDS
He would miss the final 19 games of the season due to a ‘sprained right knee’ and things look on track for the coming year. My google translate isn’t perfect but it sounds like Mr. Pakarinen’s young family will be coming over this year for the winter. Source
Pakarinen Goals On Differential: +17 Even Strength, +26 All Strength.
43 Total GF On, 17 Total GA On (71.67%). #Oilers
— Eric Rodgers (@ericrsports) July 25, 2015
At this time of the year, top picks like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are on our mind as we project into next season, and players we’ve never seen—like Anton Slepyshev—spike our interest because we’re curious about the possibilities.
If we’re talking about potential depth wingers on the Oilers—behind the obvious choices—don’t forget about Iiro Pakarinen. We all have our favorites entering camp, but we’d do well to remember the Finn who announced his presence with authority one year ago. He’s coming to training camp in September and the boards at Rexall are already trembling.
The young man has a real chance to have an NHL career.
(Barons photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).