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Is Paajarvi a bust?

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

It’s THN mailbag time. Once again, you fine folks have been nice enough to submit a slew of questions. These are the best of the bunch. Thanks again to all who sent one (or more) in.

Hi Adam, the Edmonton Oilers have plenty of young, rising stars, including Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz and Taylor Hall. Another name no one seems to talk about is Magnus Paajarvi, who was drafted 10th overall by the Oilers in 2009. Even though he's only 21, it seems like his growth and development is taking a while. Do you think he could be used as trade bait? Or else can we soon potentially label him as a draft bust?

Alex Hoegler, Richmond, B.C.

Hi Alex,

As we know, the NHL’s drafting and development process is an inexact science. And in an article I just finished for THN’s upcoming Future Watch edition, I explored the idea of what it is to be considered a “bust.”

I won’t give you all the details, but I will say this: some people throw around the “bust” label far too easily – and blame the failure strictly on the player given that label. As far as NHL management types are concerned, teams deserve an equal amount of the blame for either erroneously projecting the upside of a player, or by not putting him in a role in which he can thrive. (Think Dan Cleary, who bounced around the league until Detroit recognized what kind of player he really was.)

I’m not sure you can say exactly what has happened with Paajarvi, but with the amount of young forward talent the Oilers are blessed with, it seems unlikely right now he’ll be in a position to make the most of his skills. So I do think he’ll be dangled in trade talks before he becomes a restricted free agent at season’s end.

I’d also suspect that, if the Oilers’ asking price isn’t too high, there will be no shortage of teams willing to take a chance on him. First-and-second-round picks almost always have another team that remembers what made those players attractive during their draft year and believe they can succeed where the team that drafted the player has failed.

For that reason alone, I think it’s too soon to call Paajarvi a bust. Two or three years from now may be another story, though.

To the wise sage of THN: I've noticed that many times, late in regulation or over time, a team will take a penalty to prevent their opponent from getting a scoring chance. With points being so important (more so this year), I would be surprised if this doesn't become a tactic to preserve a point or two. Should the NHL extend regulation or OT, in the event of a late penalty in a close game for the length of man advantage?

For example, Team A is one goal behind with 30 seconds left and Team B takes a 2-minute minor. Regulation would be extended until even strength is restored (by expiration, goal or additional penalty). Are there cons of this idea that I am missing beyond the normal traditionalist arguments (which I do not dismiss)? Hoping to see our favorite Union soldier next to the Cannon soon.

Dennis Paul Columbus, Ohio

Hi Dennis,

Thanks for remembering my Columbus adventures from a few years ago. Your suggestion – which sounds much like something you see in professional soccer – has some merit. But I don’t see it happening for one main reason.

What would the result be if a team kept taking penalties at the end of each extended overtime? Seems to me games could continue on endlessly. That’s what the league wanted to guard against with the shootout and I agree with that choice. You need to assure fans of a relatively compact entertainment experience during the regular season. That’s what makes playoff hockey and multiple overtimes so exciting – they happen very rarely. So don’t count on any changes anytime soon.

Adam, why doesn't the NHL keep track of rebounds off of a goalie, like in basketball off of the rim, as a recordable stat? I think it would be interesting to see who was getting the most offensive and defensive rebounds.

Ry'al Lindgren, Wilton, N.H.


I don't think this idea is feasible because it would create a false impression of (a) the quality of rebounds and (b) the players who would get them, often through no work on their part.

For instance, let’s say a goalie takes a shot off the pads and the puck slowly rolls to one side of the ice where a winger happens to be. Is that the same caliber of rebound as a puck that quickly ricochets? I think we both know the answer.

As well, a hockey player can have the puck land on his stick far differently than a basketball winds up in the hands of an NBA athlete. In basketball, there are easily-recognized players whose chief skill is figuring out ball trajectory and body positioning; the NHL has far more random puck-bounces and if we gave out a “rebound” credit on every sequence, I don’t think it would reflect skill as much as it would sheer luck.

Hi Adam. Do you think that Damien Brunner's success with the Red Wings will encourage more similar moves, i.e. GMs looking to add talent to their roster from European players who may or may not have been drafted? Seems to me like a smart move for teams looking for depth without having to trade away players or draft picks. I believe a lot of European players have a clause in their contract where they can leave for an NHL team if they have an offer. Thanks in advance for your response.

Olivier Metayer, Geneva, Switzerland

Hi Olivier,

You’re right, Brunner was undrafted before playing in the NHL, but his play isn’t causing teams to ramp up their European scouting. Why? Because they’ve already ramped up their eyes on the ground for years now.

Whether it’s Fabian Brunnstrom, Jonas Gustavsson or a slew of others, undrafted Euros have been appearing in the NHL for years now. I’d be so bold as to say there aren’t any stones in the hockey world that go unturned any longer in the search for an off-the-grid talent that can help in hockey’s top league. There’s too much at stake for teams to overlook just about any league.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on Ask your question on our submission page. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ProteauType.


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