Note: This is the scheduled post for tonight, I’ll have an update on Klefbom’s injury later in the evening.
Winning organizations have more NHL players on the ice each evening than the other guy, and the truly great teams sprinkle in two or three impact players, have above average special teams and good to great goaltending. I think Magnus Paajarvi’s role on the Oilers as a “winning team” is not yet known to us, but we know that the club can’t afford to lose him.
They need to make this pick count.
Coach Todd Nelson has decided to put MP in a feature role in OKC, alongside the Nuge and Eberle. This has to be one of the truly incredible opportunities for an AHL player in the league’s history–rivaling the bunch who were lucky enough to play for Al MacNeil 40 years ago.
Tony Featherstone played for MacNeil in the AHL, after getting in a little more than one season with the California Golden Seals. Featherstone flourished under MacNeil, scoring plenty one year with Morris Stefaniw and Yvon Lambert as his linemates. Only Lambert made it, but that’s the thing about the minors: not everyone grabs a job in the higher league.
But a 10th overall pick in a pretty strong draft? That’s a guy you need to figure out, to help succeed. I’m good with the Nelson strategy–run that kid out there for 500 at-bats with the man-boy Eberle and the passing savant Nugent-Hopkins. And if after 40 games he has 7 goals, then you better find a checking role he can succeed in–God knows the Oilers will need penalty killers and role players.
Paajarvi isn’t going to make the Gretzky-to Kurri, Messier-to-Anderson category, but he might get a job as a complementary player on a skill line. I’d say he has a better chance than Hartikainen or Pitlick. However, if he ends up being from the Dave Hunter role playing family that’s fine too.
But they can’t lose him. Tom Renney lost him once, chasing wins in a season that was destined to have few. Todd Nelson’s job is to find where he fits, and to make sure he gets his swagger back in the place where so many Yvon Lambert’s have gone to re-invent themselves.