If the Oilers were completely healthy, it would be extremely difficult to think about adding any forward to the roster. But with Jordan Eberle and Teddy Purcell both injured in the preseason, there just might be room for a little bit of insurance on the wing.
In related news, Magnus Paajarvi found his way to the waiver wire on Tuesday.
Magnus Paajarvi (STL) an interesting name on waivers today
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 30, 2015
Paajarvi has some significant limitations as a player. Despite some flashes early in his career, he’s not really a scorer. He notched 15 goals as a rookie and has never equaled that number, not even if we count his time in the AHL. He’s not a physical hockey player, either.
On the other hand, he’s big, fast, intelligent and competent both as a playmaker and as a defensive forward. That seems to be his niche at the NHL level; instead of being a defensive forward with a physical edge he’s a defensive forward with a strong passing game.
Paajarvi’s most recent approximation of NHL success came in 2012-13, mostly on a third scoring line next to Nail Yakupov. It’s easy to imagine him in the same role today, particularly with Anton Lander as the centre of that unit. Paajarvi and Lander played together extensively in Oklahoma City and had strong chemistry; there’s a chance the unit could hit the ground running.
He’s certainly not an expensive bet. Paajarvi is on a one-year, $700,000 contract and can be demoted to the minors at any point without the team sending him down incurring any cap penalty at the NHL level.
Some will reject this out of hand because Paajarvi is an ex-Oiler; they’ll argue the team has moved on and it’s pointless to revisit the past. It’s a silly argument; players should be assessed based on their ability to help in the here-and-now and regardless of their history with the team. Paajarvi’s a reasonable stopgap, is still young enough to have untapped potential, and is probably as good of a fit as the Oilers will find on the waiver wire.
Really, it comes down to how confident the team feels in its depth on the wings, how serious the injuries to Eberle and Purcell are, and what other options are out there via trade. I’m not saying the team must claim Paajarvi, but if they need a competent bottom-six winger with a bit of upside this is as good as they’re likely to get at zero acquisition cost. Paajarvi is the kind of cheap gamble that just might pay off, and even failing that he should provide competent play as an injury replacement.
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