Magnus Paajarvi

Edmonton sends Paajarvi back to minors…again


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.

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier
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Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench, and that’s only counting what the Flyers are paying Gagner.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.

Video: NHL drops hammer, suspends Torres for 41 games


One of the NHL’s most notorious hitters has been tagged by the league.

On Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 41 games — half of the regular season — for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The length of Torres’ suspension is a combination of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ history of delivering hits to the heads of opposing players, including Jordan Eberle, Jarret Stoll, Nate Prosser and Marian Hossa.

“Torres has repeatedly violated league playing rules,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “And has been sanctioned multiple times for similar infractions.”

The league also noted that Torres has been warned, fined, or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career, “the majority of which have involved a hit to an opponent’s head.”

“Same player every year,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler said following the hit on Silfverberg. “I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”

As for what lies ahead, things could get interesting upon potential appeal:

Torres successfully appealed a suspension under the previous CBA, getting his punishment for the Hossa hit reduced from 25 to 21 games.

Under terms of the new CBA, Torres isn’t categorized as a repeat offender because his last suspension came in May of 2013 — more than two years ago.

Of course, part of the reason Torres hasn’t run afoul of the league in two years is because he’s barely played.

Knee injuries limited Torres to just 12 games in ’13-14, and he sat out last season entirely.