Iiro Pakarinen has earned his job in Edmonton

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Iiro Pakarinen took an unconventional route to the NHL, but it certainly appears that he has arrived. The 24-year-old Finnish right wing is in his second season with the Edmonton Oilers’ organization and when his entry-level deal ends this summer it’s a very good bet that he’ll be invited back.

Acquisition

Pakarinen

Pakarinen was not a draft pick of the Oilers. He was a late selection of the Florida Panthers in 2011 after being passed over in 2009 and 2010, and the Panthers thought so little of him after two years that they let him walk rather than giving him an entry-level contract. This is the same sort of decisions that Edmonton made with defenceman Erik Gustafsson, allowing him to become a free agent and ultimately sign with Chicago.

In this case, though, it was the Oilers who predatorily took advantage of their opponent’s mistake.

The early reports from the AHL were glowing, with Oklahoma City Barons head coach Todd Nelson clearly a fan of the player:

He’s probably been our most complete player and most consistent player throughout the eight games that we’ve played. I think it’s just a matter of time [before he gets an NHL shot], because he plays both ends very well, he has a great shot, he’s a big strong guy and he skates very well. He’s pretty complete for this level… He plays both [left and right wing]. It doesn’t matter if it’s left or right side he feels comfortable in both positions. The one thing about Pakarinen that the coaching staff here has been impressed with is his maturity and how he carries himself for a young guy. He’s a consummate professional; he works hard in the gym and works hard in practice. I think just the way that he carries himself is pretty impressive.

As an Oiler

Pakarinen made his NHL debut in November 2014, scoring one goal but playing less than 8:00 per game in every contest during a five-game cameo. He returned to the club in February under Nelson and spent the rest of the year in Edmonton, though that only amounted to a dozen games before his year ended early due to injury.

He was hurt during training camp this season and thus started the year in the minors, but was back after just four games and he’s been with the Oilers ever since.

He’s generally fared well.

At 6’1”, 215 pounds, Pakarinen brings the size that coaches tend to like in their bottom-six forwards. He can play either left wing or right wing, he has filled in on the penalty kill (he’s currently averaging 0:41 per game shorthanded) and he’s been physical, with his 94 hits is second only to Matt Hendricks among Edmonton forwards.

He’s also a reasonably competent scoring threat. Of the 385 NHL forwards who have played at least 200 minutes of five-on-five hockey this year, Pakarinen’s 1.06 points/hour ties him for No. 265, which is fringe third-line territory. He’s not going to win the Art Ross any time soon, but that’s a very nice place to be for a fourth-line forward.

His on-ice shot metrics are just okay; he’s had his ups and downs in a relatively small sample of minutes but he and his most common linemate, Anton Lander, have been surprisingly effective together. When those two are on the ice, the Oilers have a 50.7 percent Corsi rating and are exactly break-even in the goals department (four for, four against) despite starting more shifts in their own end of the rink than the opposition’s.

Pakarinen turns 25 in August, meaning he’s just reaching the peak of his career. He’s big, physical, reasonably skilled and fairly versatile. It looks to me like he’s won a contract extension and a role on Edmonton’s fourth line next season.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • freelancer

    I’d give him a 3 year contract if the price is right. Cheap player who’s also been able to hold his own when playing up the lineup when injuries have hit.

  • freelancer

    Could not agree with you more on this one JW………I also think that once he is paired with a centerman that understands his “shoot first” mentality his point production will go up.

    This player has been a pleasant surprise and I love the fact he is only 24.

  • Chopsucky

    Pakirinen is the reason I would trade Hendricks while his value is high and Kassian on his other wing gives us a pair of wingers that hit , can score and play a full ice game . For me it’s Hall,Ebs Leon , Pou,McDavid , Yak then Kass ,RNH and Pak leaving Letestu,Lander ,Khairi , Slepyshev , This years pick . Goals ok Our D still needs massaged .It could be done .

      • .

        Hendricks is a foot soldier, no way you get rid of him. He’ll battle in the trenches, do whatever the coach asks, back up his teammates, kills penalties, and play centre in a pinch, and fights…and you want to get rid of him?? Guys like this are the only guys earning their pay check in the league. He’s also glue in the locker room from what I can see. The way I see it, the Oilers problems started when they started trading away these types of players in favour of small skilled forwards. Prime example, Jason Chimera, and they never replaced him properly. Tough, fast, hard-nosed player who had versatility.

    • As I see it, you need more offence from the third line than that, and Kassian’s better than a fourth line player.

      Something like this makes more sense to me:

      • Newcomer – Nugent-Hopkins – Kassian
      • Hendricks – Letestu – Pakarinen
      • ziyan94

        What about Korpikoski?? How does he fit in? Buy out?

        If Kropikoski is here, or if he is bought out and his buy out cap hit has to be included then the bottom 6 might cost the Oil

        RNH 6
        Hendricks 1.8
        Letestu 1.8
        Korpikoski or ?? 2.5
        kassian 1
        Pakarinnen 1
        Total 14.1

        I’m not sure if the Oil can manage that much cap space tied up on the bottom 6.

      • ziyan94

        Oilers can’t have a player on the 3rd line and pay them 6M.

        Wont be able to fix defense like that.

        I would much sooner have a 6M player as 3/4 d than 6M third line center

        • I would like to see the following line up:

          Hall – Nuge – Draisaitl

          Laine – McDavid – Eberle

          Pouliot – Nielsen – Kassian

          Hendricks – Letestu – Pakarinen

          I would also like to see the following D pairings:

          Klefbom – Shattenkirk

          Demers – Sekera

          Davidson – Reinhart

          Nurse

          While I acknowledge that the acquisition of Shattenkirk and Demers may be extremely difficult to achieve, it may be doable. As for Nielsen, he would round out the Oilers strength down the middle in a perfect way.

          End of Dream

        • .

          well we don’t always get what we want. You literally have the best third line center in the league this way that. But that’s too good?? LOL.

          The only way we fix the defense is to find a FA, fleece someone on a trade or draft one. Trading for one does nothing for this team. This is the hand we were dealt. We have three awesome centers. Use them. Actually, just play drai on the wing and our top 6 is set forever.

          If chia can D and keep the core we win a cup. If we needs to trade the core to get a D we don’t win a cup.

          All or nothing bud.

        • .

          No for a few reasons.

          Bickell has another year on his contract at $4.5M with a cap hit of $4M.

          If you could wind back the clock to the 2103 playoffs you would have a version of Bickell worth that money (17 pts in 23 games), but he hasn’t played that well post those playoffs. He’s arguably one of the worst contracts that the Hawks have.

          He was recently on waivers and nobody touched him. He may never get a chance to play again, unless it’s for a lot less money. He’ll get you four hits a game, but lacks the foot speed for today’s game. He turns 30 in March, so he probably won’t be getting any faster soon.

      • Canoe Ride 27.1

        I like your line up better, but that newcomer has to be something that the Oilers have had on the third line before: solid on both ends of the ice and has to be able to contribute offensively and step into the Top 6 when it is called for.

        I’d love for the Oilers to keep Letestu and Hendricks for the 4th, Pakarinen if there is no better option. Thou, if we go by your 3rd line, then, I’d like to see Khaira with Letestu and Hendricks on the 4th.

    • toprightcorner

      Thats a horrible 3rd line. You need some offense on your third line and if RNH is still here to play 3rd line, those linemates would drop him to about 30 pts.

      Oilers will probably bring in size with offense like Brouwer or Stewart. And Kassian is a better skated an more offensive that Khaira and he probably needs another year in the AHL. something more like:

      Brouwer Nuge Kassian
      Hendricks Letestu Pakarinen.

      I believe the Oilers best chance at a top pairing dman is to deal Nuge, but then they would need to bring in another 3rd line centre with size and offence. Poossibly like

      Brouwer Backes Kassian
      Hendricks Letestu Pakarinen

  • mithaman

    Lolol…

    The article mentions Pakarinen’s Points/hour
    The article mentions Pakarinen’s Corsi
    The article refences Pakarinen’s On Ice Shot Differential Metrics

    BUT how many points does he have this year?
    HOW many goals?
    How many shots?

    Cmon Willis, I get that you like fancy stats, but the standard ones would also be great to reference on an article like this. I know I can look them up elsewhere, but seems like they would help paint the full picture.

    Anyways, rant aside – How much do you think he’s worth on an extended deal? I would put him at something similar to Lander signed last year, what’s your take?

    • .

      earn – to aquire or deserve as a result of effort or action.

      How many Oilers wins has he contributed points,goals,assists,shots, aand hits to…….spare the goofy words and the trendy phrases ,thats not what your title promises to discuss.

      JW…..why has Pakarinin “earned” a job in Edmonton?

      A team facing a TENTH season without playoffs….how could anyone have earned their job?

      Willis do you think this guy has earned his job in Edmonton or are you just throwing around theories about advanced stats,because those stats theories havent “earned” the space you give them.

      If every article includes silly advanced stats I will choose to skip your work…..not because it fails to broach relevant Oilers related topics but because its becoming painfully obvious you have an agenda bigger than just writing about the Oilers driving you to constantly assault everyone with these unproven fantasy numbers/ideas you call stats.You are acting as if these kooky ideas are real and relevant.Like a few silly MSM writers who you co-operate with.

      I am with Mithaman.

      I spend 4 hours per week volunteering with teenage kids…Willis we talk a lot of hockey especially about Hall and Nail McDavid,
      and NOT ONE TEEN HAS EVER MENTIONED anything remotely connected to the stuff you push at people here…..why are you doing this? I have been an ON fan since the beginning and if no one young is discussing these things why do you,they are not fan-friendly so are you applying for a job with the Oilers to replace Dellow or are you a salesman for someone other than ON????Dont stop using your imagination like you do ,just spare us the salesmanship .Or at the very least use Titles which are more telling and mntion the stats junk so we can choose to skip the story if its just an advertisment pushing imaginary stuff no fans in the real world even aknowledge.

      No kids or anyone really even knows what these silly ideas represent and
      Willis….no thanks I dont want a link/sales pitch.

      I come to ON to read current informative and great entertaining hockey articles and to interact with other fans.

      If ON is simply a sales platform for marketing made-up ideas to an imaginary marketplace so you may try to flog it to NHL Teams ,then people should be forewarned.

      The very second those silly words corgi and fanwick and ?Points/Hour?….show up the article loses me and likely everyone else.

      Pakarinen is playing on a bottom feeding team and the buck stops there, no one has earned a job,everyone is underachieving.I dont need the solution to see the problem…and I see a lack of skill being utilised via process by T-Mac…..so no hurting on Pakarinen but the Oilers need process created offense….no stats are going to make excuses for the losing season no stats can help decide who to keep and who to replace….because stats represent the past only ,its all they can do,so unless they prove Pakaranen has won or lost a past game they are useless to us,because hockey is a team game he COULD NOT POSSIBLY WIN OR LOSE ON HIS OWN……so your stats are useless dross no matter what silly names you use or how many websites your pals have set up to support the con-job by giving you a “reference link”……..its over Willis…the advanced/enhanced stats con-job reign of BS is over.

      One by one NHL Teams are discovering the truth guys like Larkin and you try to cloud….advanced stats are destroying NHL Teams and are undermining the entire NHL.

  • mithaman

    Next year I’d have

    Hall Draisaitl Kassian
    Nuge McDavid Yak
    Pouliot (New3C or Lander) Pakarinen
    Hendricks Letestu Khaira

    Trade Eberle for a Dman. If Kassian can’t handle playing that high he comes down and Pouliot goes up. If a centre gets hurt Nuge slides in.

  • People are way too eager to trade the Nuge. Drai and McD are BOTH on entry level contracts (earning a max of 3.7M) and are basically both rookies. $13-15M is not a lot to have tied up at the Centre ice position. RNH’s $6M salary is not in any way an issue at this time.

  • toprightcorner

    Pakarinen is a perfect 4th liner. Hits, has size plays both wings, kills penalties and can be had for $1 mill or less. The Oilers would do well to sign him to a 3 year $3 mill deal.

    • Canoe Ride 27.1

      I would not sign any 3rd or 4th liner to more than 1 year contracts..

      Make then hungry for next deal and keep your powder dry for opportunities.

      There are lots of 3rd and 4th liners available

  • .

    I like IP over LK. 1 or 2 years would be fine at a good $.

    PC will have to redeem himself by getting a pick or prospect for LK.

    Interesting to see how many virtual GMs want to see Ebs gone for the proverbial #1D. Right,…… EBS for Ekblad uh maybe not. #1 RW after Ebs ???

    Center depth might be nice for a season or two. Having 5 or 6 legit centers at camp next fall and a bit of pushing and shoving for the 3/4 wingers might give us the team we have all been dreaming about in the new rink.

  • .

    The Oil are 24th in Goals For/Game and 26th in GA/G. Given that they currently sit tied for 30th tells me they have lost too many one goal games. Hall, Drai and Purcell are tied for 5th in top line scoring (with a rookie centre!). Without injuries those stats would be better and we have to learn to win one goal games.

    Everyone knows it but we need a solid #1 puck moving D. It ain’t Schultz so lets move out someone like Ebs or RNH and package him with some of the guys that shouldn’t be here (like Schultz to help replace their lost D) and get that D. With CM back and injuries more normalized, a top puck moving D that helps control the game, maintain possession and get the puck to our scoring lines we should see tremendous improvement. Todd M has to figure out a way to win those one goal games.