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

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


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

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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    Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov

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    The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

    After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


    You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

    “It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

    “We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

    There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

    His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

    Not good.

    Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

    Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.

    Full Sparks: Leafs rookie posts shutout in NHL debut

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    Exactly 366 days ago, Garret Sparks was tending goal for the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears.

    What a difference a year can make.

    On Monday, Sparks — the 22-year-old netminder just recalled from the AHL Marlies — was the big story in Toronto, posting a 24-save shutout over Edmonton in his NHL debut.

    Sparks’ debut came after the in-form James Reimer went down with injury and Jonathan Bernier struggled mightily to start the year. A seventh-round pick in 2011, Sparks was taken 189 spots behind the guy lined up across from him tonight — that’d be Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall pick in ’11.

    So yeah, Sparks might not be high on pedigree. But he’s certainly full value for what he’s achieved.

    The former OHL Guelph standout went 8-2-1 with the Marlies this year, with a .938 save percentage and 1.90 GAA. Those numbers impressed the club’s brass and afforded him the chance to get a spot start against the Oilers.

    And needless to say, it went well.

    Leo Komarkov provided two-thirds of the Toronto offense on the night, scoring both the opening goal and insurance marker (into an empty net) to put him on 10 goals for the year. Komarov’s offensive outburst is nearly as surprising as Sparks’ emergence; prior to this season, the gritty Finn had never scored more than eight goals in a single NHL campaign.

    Nazem Kadri scored the other goal for the Leafs, who are now 8-11-5 on the year.

    As for Edmonton… well, the scoreline says it all. The club has just six goals in its last five games and has been shut out twice (the other occurred last Monday, in a 1-0 loss to the Caps). The defeat dropped the Oilers to 8-15-2, putting them right in the Western Conference basement next to Calgary, with 18 points.

    New York, New York: Rangers snap slump, Isles win second straight

    Oscar Lindberg

    It was a good night in NYC.

    In Manhattan, the Rangers snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over the ‘Canes at MSG and, while that was going on, the Isles won their second straight with a victory over the Avs in Brooklyn.

    Nice little Monday, that.

    Let’s begin with the Rangers.

    Heading into tonight’s action in arguably their worst slump of the season, the Blueshirts got goals from Mats Zuccarello, Oscar Lindberg, Chris Kreider and Derick Brassard to edge the ‘Canes. While it was hardly an oil painting — New York was out-shot 36-22 — the club will gladly take the win, and the positives that came with it.

    Like the power play, that went 2-for-4 on the night with Zuccarello’s and Lindberg’s tallies. And the fact the club was able to withstand the loss of d-man Kevin Klein, who exited early in the first period — despite missing a steadying presence that plays over 21 minutes per night, the Rangers’ remaining five d-men (Ryan McDonagh, Keith Yandle, Dan Girardi, Dan Boyle and Marc Staal) all played at least 20 minutes save Yandle, who clocked in at 19:43.

    The Rangers also got a solid outing from Henrik Lundqvist, who made 33 saves on 36 shots. Jordan Staal, Victor Rask and Chris Terry scored for Carolina.

    Now, over to Barclays.

    The Isles overcame Blake Comeau‘s game-opening tally in the first to win 5-3, thanks to a three-goal barrage in the final period.

    Head coach Jack Capuano will no doubt be pleased with the balanced scoring across the board, as five different Isles found the back of the net: Cal Clutterbuck, Kyle Okposo, Ryan Strome, Casey Cizikas and Mikhal Grabovski, with Cizikas’ goal proving to be the eventual game-winner.

    The win was also sweet given it came with backup netminder Thomas Greiss in goal. The victory pushed him to an impressive 7-3-2 on the year, putting him in the conversation among the NHL’s top second-string goalies.

    For the Avs, tonight’s loss will sting. It was another unremarkable outing from Semyon Varlamov (four goals on 27 shots, an .852 save percentage) and a forgettable night for three of Colorado’s best players. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene combined to go pointless on the night, with a minus-8 rating.

    And yes, I just referenced plus-minus.

    Update: As longtime and cherished PHT commenter bcislesman pointed out, I neglected to mention Wednesday’s Rivalry Night game on NBCSN — between the Rangers and Isles! Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty on it in the coming days. A reminder the game will be available on TV and via NBC Sports’ Live Extra at 8 p.m. ET.

    Rangers’ Klein exits with muscle strain, won’t return

    Kevin Klein

    The New York Rangers lost versatile d-man Kevin Klein early in the first period of their game against Carolina and, shortly after, announced he was done for the night.

    Klein played just 2:22 before leaving with a muscle strain. The injury forced the Blueshirts to use just five defensemen for the remainder of the evening — Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Boyle, Keith Yandle and Dan Girardi.

    While it’s unclear how the injury occurred or how significant it is, Klein’s absence could be costly if it’s long-term. The 30-year-old was having a good year, with six points in 24 games, and saw his ice time go up to 21:03 per game from 18:29 last year.

    If Klein is out moving forward, it would present an opportunity for Dylan McIlrath to take up a bigger role on the New York defense.