With Oilers players going down with injuries at an alarming rate, the dynamic top trio of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all sidelined with various injuries and their top two defensemen in Ryan Whitney and Tom Gilbert both on the shelf, there is plenty of anguish for Oilers fans who are enduring another injury plagued campaign near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. However, for those able to see it, there is a silver lining in this whole rebuilding situation and it’s one that gives fans a chance to see some of the other up and coming prospects from the Oilers system that are plying their trade in Oklahoma City, or a chance to see role players currently on the roster jump into more prominent roles. It’s an opportunity to see which if any of these young prospects will earn a chance to stay long term. One such player that will get plenty of looks is Magnus Paajarvi.
The 20 year old Swedish speedster came into the league last year alongside Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle as part of the exciting trio all making their 2010 debuts with the Oilers. There was much excitement as each of the three top picks from the previous drafts were all poised to take Edmonton by storm. With perhaps not the hype as the #1 overall pick Hall or the notoriety of World Junior Championship hero Eberle, Paajarvi had himself a very respectable rookie season scoring 34 points and playing in 80 games.
How things can change in a year.
A year ago you wouldn’t have have thought to put Magnus Paajarvi’s name with those in the category of needing to prove they deserved to stay on the Oilers roster when 2012 rolled around. However, here we are and Paajarvi’s name has now been replaced by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins beside that of Hall and Eberle as the heirs apparent to past Oiler greats. He also saw his ice time diminished to the point that he found himself being demoted to the AHL’s OKC Barons in early December after registering only 3 assists in 25 games played.
With recent injuries to Nugent-Hopkins, Hall, Eberle and Eric Belanger, Paajarvi has found himself back with the big club and thrust into a top six role. In Edmonton’s most recent game against Columbus, Paajarvi played his most minutes of the season, getting some time on the top line in the absence of the four previously mentioned forwards and figures to get increased minutes in the immediate future.
The product of Norrkoping, Sweden has speed to burn and all of the skills necessary to be an offensive force at the top level, which is what the Oilers saw in him when they made him the 10th overall pick in 2009. In today’s NHL where speed is the name of the game, Paajarvi has it in spades and can fly with the best. However, as we know it is also a league of what have you done for me lately, and with the Oilers young stars soon set to return he may have a limited window to make himself indispensable to the big club.
The fact that the Oilers boast a plethora of highly regarded forward prospects, Paajarvi is going to have to showcase that skill set with some results attached to it fast or find himself falling further down the pecking order.