Todd McLellan doesn’t waste time if he doesn’t like the look of a line.
He wants a strong, physical winger to play on the RW alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall, at least until Jordan Eberle returns, and after trying Andrew Miller, who is a small, skilled winger, for 30 minutes last night, he went back to Rob Klinkhammer.
Klinkhammer is not the answer, but maybe Iiro Pakarinen is, so the Oilers recalled him today and sent Andrew Miller back to Bakersfield.
McLellan mentioned Pakarinen yesterday morning and said he was more in the mold of Korpikoski and Hendricks who are strong, physical wingers, while Miller was a speedy, skilled winger. He said last night he didn’t like the look of the top line, but didn’t blame Miller, and the move today shows he would rather go with a heavy, banging winger on the right side of the top line.
Pakarinen was injured in training camp and never played in the preseason. It was brutal timing for the young Finn, because he was unable to make an impression on the new coaching staff.
He played 17 games with the Oilers last season scoring 1-2-3. He looked good in his first few games, but wasn’t much of a factor in his final ten games. Reports out of Bakersfield suggest he has played well in the four games, picking up 1-2-3, and I sense McLellan is intrigued by his size and style of play.
These moves illustrate how much the loss of Matt Hendricks has impacted the team. He looked good with RNH and Hall for two games before injuring his foot, but his misfortune has opened up an opportunity for Pakarinen.
We all know they are keeping the first line RW slot warm for Eberle, but the opportunity to impress the coach and get in the mix for the future is what Pakarinen needs to focus on.
Not many players are blessed with an opportunity to get recalled and play on the top line. He needs to take advantage of it, if indeed he plays there tomorrow.
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