Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson might not be ready for NHL just yet

The Edmonton Oilers are poised for a fresh start this season. After
all, there’s only one way to go from where there are now and that’s up.
They currently have the top pick in this season’s draft — unless they
choose to trade it away — and should be set to draft Taylor Hall. He’ll
be able to step in and make an instant difference, although the Oilers
will still be deep in a rebuilding process and are far from being just
“one player away”.

So let’s not forget last season’s first round
draft pick by the Oilers, the raw but extremely talented Magnus
Paajarvi-Svensson.

While gearing up for last year’s draft, MPS
had a reputation as a player with incredible upside but one who is still
more interested with just scoring goals and every other part of hockey
bores him to tears. After another year of playing in Sweden and then
being named to Sweden’s World Championships team, it appears that those
reports still hold true

today.

From David Staples of the Edmonton Journal:


Right now he tends to skate in wide circles in his own zone, arcing
and swooping about, hungry for a breakout pass. He doesn’t appear lazy,
just somewhat clueless. Along the boards, he’s tough enough, but not
effective, often pushed off the puck. He’s got to get stronger, he’s got
to start making quick stops and starts in his own zone, he’s got to
stop following the puck so much, and he’s got to start covering his man
adequately.

In his biggest game of the tournament, Sweden’s semi-final shoot-out
loss to the Czechs, his coach had enough faith in the kid to send him
out for a regular shift in over-time. Twice, though, Paajarvi was drawn
to the puck in his own zone, and forgot to cover the man, his man,
coming in late through the backdoor. Both times the Czechs had glorious
chances to score, one of those shots coming from Jaromir Jagr, who even
at his advanced age must not be left uncovered in the slot area, as any
veteran player would know.

From everything I’ve read, and the times I’ve been able to watch him
play, MPS has been one of the most frustrating hockey players to follow.
He has all the talent you could possibly want from a hockey player in
the offensive zone, but he never truly comes alive until the puck is on
his stick.

He’s one of those guys that just glides around on the ice, waiting
for the puck to come to him so can explode down the ice in the other
direction and do what he does best.

But in the NHL, that will never fly. Despite how much more
offensive-minded the league has become in recent years, a player that
can’t pull his own weight defensively will get the quick hook, no matter
how talented they might be with the puck.

MPS is certainly talented enough to make this Oilers team out of
training camp, but he needs time to further refine his game. Now, he
could always go back to Sweded but more likely the best option would be
for him to start the season in the AHL where the Oilers can directly
oversee his development.

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    It’s Calgary Flames day at PHT

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 29: Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames celebrates his goal with teammates against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Wells Fargo Center on February 29, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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    If you want to boil the Calgary Flames’ past two seasons down simply, you could do worse than this:

    In 2014-15: Bob Hartley won the Jack Adams Award.

    In 2015-16: The Flames fired Bob Hartley.

    The Flames finished this past season with 77 standings points, missing the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven years.

    While Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan survived the sophomore curse, the Flames couldn’t survive in their own end. No team allowed more goals than the 260 Calgary surrendered last season. It cost people some jobs, most notably that of Hartley.

    Off-season

    Naturally, the first big change in Calgary comes with Glen Gulutzan replacing Hartley behind the bench.

    Much like the team he’s coaching, Gulutzan needs to get over some past failures (he failed to make the playoffs during his two seasons coaching the Dallas Stars) but is young enough (45) to argue that the best days are ahead.

    To little surprise, the Flames decided that Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio isn’t necessarily the group of goalies to get things done. The Flames brought in two-time All-Star Brian Elliott to try to right the ship.

    The Flames didn’t stop there, adding Chad Johnson as Elliott’s backup. With a .917 career save percentage, Johnson could very well keep Elliott on his toes.

    Aside from big improvements behind the bench and in the net, the Flames’ most noteworthy work came in extending Sean Monahan,* picking up Troy Brouwer and landing Matthew Tkachuk in the draft.

    Calgary is making a lot of strong moves, but did they make enough to climb back into the postseason in 2016-17? PHT will explore these factors on Saturday.

    * – Naturally, the biggest move needs to come soon: also handing an extension to Gaudreau.

    Avalanche’s new head coach Bednar is at least saying the right things

    jaredbednaravalanche
    via Colorado Avalanche
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    Look, there are exceptions, but new head coach press conferences feature the same basic terms and buzzwords.

    After witnessing the high-octane Pittsburgh Penguins skate opponents ragged on their way to the 2016 Stanley Cup, any reasonable coach would throw “speed” into their phrasing.

    Still, the Colorado Avalanche have been so deeply buried by even the most basic of modern measurements that you had to wonder: would they learn from Patrick Roy’s struggles? Can someone come in and at least attempt to keep up with the pack?

    We won’t know for sure anytime soon, but hey, at least Jared Bednar seems to be saying the right things as he transitions from the AHL to the Avalanche’s head coaching gig.

    When discussing his hire with NHL Network, Bednar seemed confident that his style in the AHL – “Up-tempo, aggressive style in all three zones of the rink” – will translate well in Colorado.

    That interview hits the beats you’d expect from job interviews beyond hockey. There’s even a “detail-oriented” bit.

    (If you space out, you might just assume there’s a mention of thinking outside the box, like every corporate interview in human history.)

    Still, it’s OK to settle for baby steps, especially considering the tough situation Patrick Roy created in abruptly skipping town. For many, it might just be comforting to note that Bednar doesn’t outright dismissive “analytics” or “fancy stats.”

    Mile High Hockey brings up a great point: if nothing else, the spotlight will shift from the Avalanche’s flamboyant head coach to the talented core of young players.

    So, not only is Colorado bringing in a coach who is as savvy with spreadsheets as he is with the wipe-off board, but he’s going to allow the players to crawl out from under Roy and finally earn their own accomplishments. This is every bit as important as fixing the breakout play or eliminating the Collapse-O-Rama™ defensive system.

    (Collapse-O-Rama, huh? Can we stash that term for future use regarding another coach or two?)

    Bednar isn’t a retread, so we only know so much about what to expect.

    There are positive early signs. Roll your eyes all you want, we have seen more than a few successful transitions from AHL glory (Bednar just won the Calder Cup) to the NHL.

    He’s not necessarily anti-information and seems at least interested in implementing modern, attacking systems. Attacking systems that, theoretically, would best suit the talents of a gifted-but-flawed group.

    It all feels a little vague, but then again, it’s not even September yet. So far, so good.

    One way or another, Al Montoya will be important to Canadiens

    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02:  Goalie Al Montoya #35 of the Florida Panthers looks on in the second period against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on February 2, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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    This is part of Canadiens day at PHT …

    Here’s an unsolicited opinion: a good backup goalie is often underrated.

    Yes, getting a quality Plan B is easier said than done – goalies are an unpredictable lot – but it’s simple to see when it pays off.

    (There are plenty of examples, but Matt Murray winning a Stanley Cup for the Pittsburgh Penguins is the shiniest one.)

    Even if injuries aren’t a big issue, a No. 2 goalie is a pretty safe bet to play 20 games for a given team. In that regard, Al Montoya could be a significant upgrade over Mike Condon, and that could be important.

    Waning workhorses

    In 2015-16, no goalie played 70 regular season games. Jonathan Quick was the workhorse of the NHL with 68, while only 10 played at least 60. So, more than two-thirds of last season’s teams needed at least 24 games from their lesser-paid goalies.

    Even in Carey Price‘s dominant 2014-15 campaign, he played 66 games while Dustin Tokarski was in net for 17.

    Let’s ponder the outlook for a variety of scenarios as Price hopes to rebound from injury:

    If Price resumes Vezina-caliber form

    As PHT notes, Price seems confident that he’s at 100 percent.

    That’s great … but what else is he going to say? Knee injuries can beguile just about any athlete.

    He does admit that he’s getting up there in age a bit – relative to the sport, mind you – at 29. Earlier this summer, the Hockey News went over Montreal’s plan to scale Price’s workload a bit, injured or not.

    So, even in a dream scenario, Montoya and/or Condon will still see plenty of reps.

    If Price falters

    The Canadiens are expected to live or die by Price. Let’s not kid ourselves.

    The leash might not be very long for Michel Therrien if Price really falls on his face, however. A Condon-led Habs team stumbled terribly, but what might we see from Montoya being thrust into the spotlight for performance reasons?

    • With a .909 career save percentage, Montoya’s experienced his stumbles in the NHL. Montreal has to hope he follows more of the path from strong showings in 2013-14 (13-8-3, .920 save percentage with Winnipeg) and 2015-16 (12-7-3, .919 save percentage with Florida).

    Long story short, there were flashes of the brilliance you’d expect from a guy who went sixth overall in 2004.

    • The good news is that he’s accustomed to a fairly heavy backup duty. He set a career-high with 31 games played and 26 starts with the Islanders in 2011-12. Including that season, he’s enjoyed 20+ appearances in five of his last six seasons.
    • The bad news is that he hasn’t ever even carried half of a season’s workload so …

    Yes, a Price re-injury would be disastrous

    Montoya hasn’t been “the guy” before, certainly not in a pressure-cooker like Montreal. Condon’s opportunity didn’t go especially well.

    One can understand ownership giving Therrien and GM Marc Bergevin something of a “Price pass” after 2015-16, but would there be the same level of acceptance if they couldn’t thrive without their star goalie again? You’d have to ask about lessons learned.

    ***

    Long story short, Montoya matters to Montreal. The Canadiens just have to hope that he doesn’t matter too much.

     

    Ducks lock up 2016 first-rounder Max Jones

    BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Max Jones poses for a portrait after being selected 24th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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    The Anaheim Ducks handed their 2016 first-round draft pick Max Jones an entry-level contract on Friday.

    Anaheim selected Jones 24th overall. It looks like he’s getting a pretty typical rookie deal, according to reporters including NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke.

    In PHT’s “Get to Know a Draft Pick” series, THN’s Ryan Kennedy described Jones as “a power forward who can make you look silly with his offensive moves or simply plow you through the boards.”

    Jones was one of three London Knights players who went in the first round in 2016, following Olli Juolevi (fifth overall) and Matthew Tkachuk (sixth overall). He certainly seemed to enjoy the team’s Memorial Cup victory:

    You never really know for certain, but one would imagine that Jones may take a season or two to make it to the NHL level with the Ducks. From the sound of things, he’s in the sort of power forward mold that the team’s had a lot of success with.