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.