January 17, 2011; Columbus, OH, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Magnus Paajarvi (91) carries the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-US PRESSWIRE

The Top 10 Oiler Stories Of 2011-12: #10 – Magnus Paajarvi’s Sophomore Slump


I took this idea to Twitter a couple of days ago, wanting to gauge where people stood on what was important to them. I got some obvious answers, and some that I didn’t think people would recollect.  I took into account what everyone had to say, and I’ve got my list.

With a handful of games remaining in the season (and no playoffs in sight), I bring you the beginning of a short series (ten, to be exact) of memories from this season.

We start today with the season of Magnus Paajarvi.

Swede Magnus Paajarvi was selected by the Oilers in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at tenth overall. A product of Timra of the SEL, Paajarvi had a very good rookie campaign in 2010-11, finishing with 34 points (15G-19A) in 80 games with the Oilers.

2010-11 EDMONTON OILERS TOP SCORERS

  • Eberle (18-25-43)
  • Hall (22-20-42)
  • Gagner (15-27-42)
  • Hemsky (14-48-42)
  • Cogliano (11-24-35)
  • Paajarvi (15-19-34)

That’s not a bad place to be after your first season.  Unrelated, I was still surprised to see Cogliano net seven million dollars from the Anaheim Ducks for a three year deal.  Even more unrelated, I guess it’s not so crazy when the Oilers are handing out $2M to Cam Barker.  I’m getting away from myself here.

So it goes without much expectation that Paajarvi is looking to gain on these numbers this season.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked out that way.  In 41 games, Paajarvi has netted just 8 points (2G-6A-8P).  He’s currently in OKC (where he’s enjoying much more success than he did in Edmonton this year), and in 26 games, he’s put up 22 points (5G-17A-22PTS).

WHY THE POINTS HAVE STOPPED IN THE NHL

‘Sophomore slumps’ happen for a reason.  There was an achingly long time this season where Paajarvi hadn’t scored a goal (it took until February 11th against Ottawa, to be exact).  Thirty six games without a goal will likely begin to wear on a guy, and if I was a guy who was supposed to put points on the board, it’d begin to eat at me after about ten games.  I’m sure the mental aspect was a part of it.

But-

I’m not sure that this team got Paajarvi’s worth this season.  It’s easy to direct traffic when it’s already passed you by.  But let’s take a look back at the lines this team was dishing out in October – November.  Here’s an example from 30 October versus St. Louis:

F
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth – Shawn Horcoff – Ryan Jones
Magnus Paajarvi – Eric Belanger – Sam Gagner
Ben Eager – Anton Lander – Lennart Petrell

Two things you’ll probably notice:

  • Sam Gagner is playing right wing, and
  • Paajarvi is on line three with Gagner and Belanger.

You’ll rightly remember that it was Hot October, the team was on a 7-2-2 tear, and I’m pretty sure you could’ve stuck a miniature Schnauzer in to back up Khabibulin and if the team was winning, they were going to keep with it. Paajarvi was seventh on this particular evening in ice time (Ryan Smyth had a pair of goals), and Paajarvi was kept off the score sheet. While being slotted at 3LW might not sound criminally vulgar, the games like this one where Paajarvi was on the fourth line (and 11th out of 12th in ice time) surely won’t help his point total.

9-10 minutes a night with Lander and Eager surely wasn’t going to help Paajarvi, and it seems more than just a coincidence that his performance suffered because of it. Ryan Smyth had the hot hand in October / November, and it prevented Paajarvi from seeing any top six time. Remember this after fifteen games? You can’t blame Ryan Smyth for any of that, but you might have a better idea why Paajarvi’s numbers took a siesta from a year ago.

Next year is a contract year for the young #91. With him playing solid time in OKC right now, I’ve got nothing but great expectations that he’ll come into camp and show everyone why he was the tenth pick overall in 2009. He’ll be in Edmonton on opening night, and as long as he’s getting ice somewhere other than the fourth line, he’ll produce.

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Tags: Magnus Paajarvi