TORONTO – NHL broadcasters can breathe a small sigh of relief.
Top-ranked Edmonton Oilers prospect Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson will enter the league with only one of his last names. The 19-year-old appeared at the NHLPA’s rookie showcase on Wednesday wearing a No. 91 Oilers sweater with “Paajarvi” on the back.
A spokesman for the NHL team confirmed he’ll be referred to as simply Paajarvi (pronounced pe-ya-YAR-vee) on broadcasts.
The Swede actually made the switch while playing for Timra in the Swedish Elite League last season. Even though he’s comfortable being called by both of his surnames, he thought it might be cumbersome.
“It was too long,” Paajarvi said Wednesday. “It’s just so much easier to just have Paajarvi. I was going to have the name Svensson-Pajaarvi, but hockey-wise, (I decided) I’m going to have Paajarvi.”
There has long been confusion about his last name—he’s been known as both Paajarvi-Svensson and Svensson-Paajarvi in the past. When Oilers GM Steve Tambellini selected him 10th overall at the 2009 draft, he said: “The Edmonton Oilers are extremely proud to select … Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson.”
The player’s father, Gunnar Svensson, believes the confusion stems from when he and Maria Paajarvi were divorced 12 years ago. Magnus ended up adding his mother’s surname after that happened.
He was subsequently referred to with both names until the recent change.
“It (has) turned out to be more Paajarvi than Paajarvi-Svensson lately,” Gunnar Svensson said in an email. “But that’s just a practical thing. It’s rather complicated to have a long name.”
To make matters slightly more confusing, Paajarvi’s brother currently plays professionally in Sweden using their father’s surname—Bjorn Svensson is a winger for Timra. He previously spent time in the Western Hockey League with Saskatoon and Moose Jaw.
Magnus Paajarvi is considered among Edmonton’s top prospects along with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. He’ll be given a good chance to crack the team’s roster out of training camp.
It’s not unprecedented for a player to drop one of his last names once he reaches the NHL. Oilers goaltender Jeff Deslauriers was known as Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers when he played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Broadcasters won’t be quite so fortunate when the New York Rangers come to town this season. Norwegian forward Mats Zuccarello-Aasen participated in this week’s rookie showcase wearing a No. 48 sweater that featured all 15 characters from his hyphenated surname—which stretched from the top of one arm to the other.