The Edmonton Oilers saw Andrew Miller for 6:45 on Nuge’s line and then decided to look at another. The new man is Iiro Pakarinen, who has been a favorite on this blog since his signing (Pakarinen was ranked No. 5 last November on the Top 20 Prospects list).
DRAFT DAY SCOUTING REPORT
- Kirk Luedeke: Undrafted overager has nice size, should add some bulk and get stronger. Heavy feet with a choppy stride, but decent straight-line speed. Needs to pick up the initial burst to have a shot at the NHL. Keeps his stick on the ice and goes to the net well. Opportunistic scorer throughout; managed to be in right place at right time and made his opportunities count. OK defensively; doesn’t do anything to stand out in his own end. Overview: Pakarinen had a pretty good hand in Finland’s offense during the preliminary round, but seems to be a longshot as an NHL prospect. Might have done enough to get drafted late, but not a prospect to keep a close eye on as the 106th-ranked skater by Central and not likely to be on many teams’ lists if at all.
I like this player. He’s aggressive, came out of the chute like a house on fire when he was recalled last year, maybe he’ll do the same. Here’s a portion of the summer RE conversation (complete projection here).
- What role will he play in Bakersfield? Scoring winger. I think Pakarinen and Andrew Miller have a chance here, it’s going to be an interesting race. There IS an NHL job—value contract and skill winger who can play up and down the lineup—and both appear well qualified.
- What has changed since he signed? In the last season on RW, we’ve seen another year of Nail Yakupov not grabbing an NHL job, and Teddy Purcell is a year older. One of the biggest changes is Pakarinen, who has passed several prospects who were ahead of him on the day he signed.
- What does he need to work on? Defensive play, although his aggressiveness is probably going to come in handy in the McLellan system. His skills set up really well for McLellan, this is a significant opportunity for the young man.
- What is the best thing about him? After years of watching Oilers prospects from the farm step into their NHL debut like a deer in the headlights, Pakarinen hit the gap like a bat out of hell and hasn’t looked back since. He’s in a helluva hurry, that’s a good thing.
- What one thing will get him to the NHL? There’s more than one thing, but speed, physical play and aggression are at the top of the charts.
- What one thing will keep him from the NHL? I’m not sure the young man can score enough to beat out the oncoming rush. Remember, there’s the established wingers (Eberle, Purcell), the No. 1 overall (Yakupov) and then 10 miles of prospects from Tyler Pitlick to Andrew Miller to Anton Slepyshev and on it goes.
- In terms of talent, who would be his No. 1 roadblock among RW prospects? Leon Draisaitl. No doubt. Leon would be a substantial roadblock to all these prospects if he gains traction on RW. He could threaten all but Jordan Eberle for available playing time.
I projected him for 20 games in the NHL this season, a slight uptick from his actual NHL GP last year. Todd McLellan appears to be looking for a poor man’s Wayne Simmonds and Pakarinen is next on the list. A tremendous opportunity for the young Finn.