Wednesday Wake-Up Call: Magnus Paajarvi

The Wednesday Wake-Up Call is where we pick a struggling player and kindly ask him to SNAP OUT OF IT ALREADY. COME ON. YOU’RE BETTER THAN THIS!

Magnus Paajarvi, LW, Edmonton Oilers

Key stats: 0G-1A in 20GP.

Cap hit: $1.525 million annually

Remember this picture?


This picture was splashed across Edmonton last season. It featured the three highly-touted Oiler rookies — Jordan Eberle (22nd overall, 2008), Taylor Hall (1st overall, 2010) and Magnus Paajarvi (10th overall, 2009) — that were going to “build” the city’s next great dynasty. “Build” is in quotations because of the unfinished house in the background, or so I assume. It’s possible the Oilers conducted a photo shoot on a half-finished construction site unintentionally.

ANYWAY, back to the wake-up call.

Two-thirds of that picture have panned out, as Eberle and Hall have been as good as advertised. And for a short period of time, Paajarvi was panning out too. Last year, he appeared in more games (80) than both Eberle and Hall and finished sixth on the team in scoring. Pretty solid rookie campaign.

But that was last year.

This year, Paajarvi has more healthy scratches (four) than points (one). His average ice time is down to 12:04 per game compared to 15:23 last year. Three goalies (Martin Brodeur, Rick DiPietro and Craig Anderson) are outscoring him.

“A big part of his anemic offence is his own doing – he’s not using his size or speed like he did last season,” writes Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal. “Paajarvi’s confidence with the puck, frankly, looks about .08 on a scale of one to 10 right now. His one point came against the Coyotes in Phoenix on Nov. 5 in a 4-2 loss. He fired 14 of his 31 shots on net this season in the first six games. Since then, the puck has seemed like kryptonite on his stick.”

With Hall out 2-4 weeks (shoulder), there’s a legitimate hole to fill at left wing. Paajarvi should be the guy to fill it, and this is an excellent opportunity for him to regain his confidence — something the Oilers don’t have in him. Head coach Tom Renney has been reluctant to give Paajarvi more ice time, relying in the likes of Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff and Anton Lander to fill the void. Renney even admitted a trip to AHL Oklahoma City “has been discussed.”

So wake up, Magnus Paajarvi. Your team needs you.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.