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Edmonton sends Paajarvi back to minors…again

Jan 25, 2012, 5:21 PM EDT

Magnus Paajarvi Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers announced they’ve sent three players — Teemu Hartikainen, Taylor Chorney and Magnus Paajarvi — to their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

None of these demotions were surprising given the upcoming All-Star break and the need for these youngsters to get some playing time. But of the three, Paajarvi’s demotion is the most compelling.

The 10th overall selection at the 2009 Entry Draft (taken ahead of Ryan Ellis, Nick Leddy and Marcus Johansson, among others), Paajarvi’s already logged a 10-game AHL stint this season and, based on what David Staples of the Edmonton Journal writes, his second could be even longer.

Paajarvi, 20, flashes tremendous speed and skill with the puck, but he’s yet to figure out a way to get close enough to the net to score. He’s no shooter, so he’s going to have to get his goals near the blue paint, but he’s yet to camp out there or barge in on a regular basis.

In his last four games with the Oilers, Paajarvi contributed to just two scoring chances, terrible offensive production for a winger. He’s a smart, responsible defensive player, but he’s got to start using his size and reach to protect and win the puck. Otherwise he’s a plus-sized Robert Nilsson, a tantalizing player, but one who can’t consistently get the job done in the NHL.

“Nilsson” is a borderline profanity in Edmonton and someone you don’t want to be linked to. He, along with Ryan O’Marra and a first-round pick used to draft Alex Plante, were the key components acquired when Ryan Smyth was traded to the Islanders in 2007 — a trade that’s been a disaster for the Oil. Nilsson was a bust (he’s now playing in Russia) while O’Marra and Plante are still mired in Oklahoma. Bottom line, it’s a trade Edmontonians would like to forget.

For a team that’s prided itself on rebuilding through the draft, Edmonton’s first-round record is decidedly mediocre. The Oilers have had seven first-round picks since 2007 — Plante, Paajarvi, Sam Gagner, Riley Nash, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom — and depending on what you think of Gagner (and how Klefbom progresses) it could be said the organization is batting below .500.

Something else to consider: Only two of those seven picks are defensemen (Plante and Klefbom). Given how bad Edmonton’s back-end has been recently and hindsight being 20/20, perhaps a few more of those picks should’ve focused on the blueline.

  1. taytay099 - Jan 25, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Sam Gagner hasn’t gotten any better since his first season as an 18 year old. I remember him playing on the original “kid line” with Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson. Yeah, this team has been rebuilding for a very long time.

  2. andyreidisfat - Jan 25, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    This is all true, but don’t you cut them a little slack just for the fact that hall and Hopkins could be top 10 type players for 15 years and in that sense they started going the wrong way but it would seem they have been getting better. I think they look a lot like Pitt when Crosby and malkin both started and they turned that into a cup real quickly.

  3. dreamzilla - Jan 25, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    i was high on this kid but hes slipping ….id say give some more time but not too much more time…as an oiler fan id say trade him omark and hemsky for a d man or proven back up goalie ….get something while u can …id say put him on the top line with hall and rnh….or the second line and see what happens but then again im not the coach or gm

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