Magnus Paajarvi

Edmonton sends Paajarvi back to minors…again

3 Comments

The Edmonton Oilers announced they’ve sent three players — Teemu Hartikainen, Taylor Chorney and Magnus Paajarvi — to their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

None of these demotions were surprising given the upcoming All-Star break and the need for these youngsters to get some playing time. But of the three, Paajarvi’s demotion is the most compelling.

The 10th overall selection at the 2009 Entry Draft (taken ahead of Ryan Ellis, Nick Leddy and Marcus Johansson, among others), Paajarvi’s already logged a 10-game AHL stint this season and, based on what David Staples of the Edmonton Journal writes, his second could be even longer.

Paajarvi, 20, flashes tremendous speed and skill with the puck, but he’s yet to figure out a way to get close enough to the net to score. He’s no shooter, so he’s going to have to get his goals near the blue paint, but he’s yet to camp out there or barge in on a regular basis.

In his last four games with the Oilers, Paajarvi contributed to just two scoring chances, terrible offensive production for a winger. He’s a smart, responsible defensive player, but he’s got to start using his size and reach to protect and win the puck. Otherwise he’s a plus-sized Robert Nilsson, a tantalizing player, but one who can’t consistently get the job done in the NHL.

“Nilsson” is a borderline profanity in Edmonton and someone you don’t want to be linked to. He, along with Ryan O’Marra and a first-round pick used to draft Alex Plante, were the key components acquired when Ryan Smyth was traded to the Islanders in 2007 — a trade that’s been a disaster for the Oil. Nilsson was a bust (he’s now playing in Russia) while O’Marra and Plante are still mired in Oklahoma. Bottom line, it’s a trade Edmontonians would like to forget.

For a team that’s prided itself on rebuilding through the draft, Edmonton’s first-round record is decidedly mediocre. The Oilers have had seven first-round picks since 2007 — Plante, Paajarvi, Sam Gagner, Riley Nash, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom — and depending on what you think of Gagner (and how Klefbom progresses) it could be said the organization is batting below .500.

Something else to consider: Only two of those seven picks are defensemen (Plante and Klefbom). Given how bad Edmonton’s back-end has been recently and hindsight being 20/20, perhaps a few more of those picks should’ve focused on the blueline.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

11 Comments

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Fleury suits up (but won’t start) and other Caps – Pens Game 3 notes

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been out of action with concussion symptoms, participates in a practice session for the NHL hockey playoffs against the New York Rangers, Monday, April 11, 2016, at their practice facility in Cranberry, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
AP
Leave a comment

The Brooks Orpik hit on Olli Maatta isn’t the only factor in lineup changes for Game 3 between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Maybe the most interesting change starts on the Penguins’ bench … where they likely hope that tweak will stay for at least one night.

Marc-Andre Fleury is apparently healthy enough to suit up for the Penguins, although it appears as though Matt Murray will start:

That’s a clear sign that “The Flower” is healthy enough to play, as Murray would be an injury or a coach’s pull away from giving up the net to Fleury. (One would assume.)

Murray has been fantastic for the most part since taking over for Jeff Zatkoff during this postseason, yet you know how the playoffs can be; people may clamor for Fleury after a loss even if it’s not really Murray’s fault.

Circling back to that Orpik hit, the dominoes seem to fall this way:

Penguins: Derrick Pouliot replaces injured Maatta.

Capitals: Dmitry Orlov in for suspended Orpik.

PHT will make note if there are any swerves.

2016 Calder Trophy finalists: Gostisbehere, McDavid and Panarin

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid lines up for a faceoff against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
AP
4 Comments

Ever since the NHL kept obstruction in check and thus placed a greater emphasis on speed and skill, we’ve seen some fascinating Calder Trophy debates. This 2015-16 season may present the toughest call in recent memory.

The league named the three finalists on Monday, and even that couldn’t have been easy. They are Edmonton Oilers wunderkind Connor McDavid, breakout Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and high-scoring Chicago Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin.

(The NHL made it official here.)

All three make for fantastic debates.

Do you go with McDavid, easily the youngest of the bunch, who produced gaudy per-game numbers but missed almost half of the season?

Perhaps you lean toward Gostisbehere, who also scored at an impressive clip per-game for a defenseman while playing a huge role in the Flyers’ surprising run to a playoff spot?

Or, do you go with Panarin, the guy who easily leads rookies in total points (77, 21 more than Jack Eichel‘s second-place finish) and was so effective that his bonuses will really put the Blackhawks in a bad way? Or do you penalize Panarin for being a little older and for the undeniable benefits he received from riding shotgun with Patrick Kane?

Then again, plenty will merely spend their time griping about “snubs,” as the likes of Jack Eichel and John Gibson were not in the final three despite outstanding work.

Yep, this should be fun … just be nice during your debates.

WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 3

Washington Capitals left wing Andre Burakovsky (65) fires a shot past Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin (8) during the second period of Game 2 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday, April 30, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
AP
2 Comments

There’s only one game on the docket tonight, but it’s a marquee matchup.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals split their games in DC and now switch to Pittsburgh for Game 3. We’ve seen great work from the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Nicklas Backstrom and maybe especially Braden Holtby so far … not to mention a considerable cast of supporting characters.

Which team will take a 2-1 lead in this captivating series?

We’ll find out on NBCSN. You can stream the game live via the link below as well:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE