Iiro Pakarinen was signed as a free agent in June of 2014. His big break may have come the following summer, when Edmonton hired Todd McLellan as head coach. Although Pakarinen began the 2015-16 season in the minors, he made it to the NHL early enough to play in 63 games with the Oilers. Is he part of the future? (Home For a Rest)
IIRO PAKARINEN 2015-16
- 5×5 points per 60: 1.16 (No. 9 among regular forwards)
- 5×4 points per 60: 5.86 (in 20 minutes)
- Corsi for 5×5 %: 46.0%
- Qual Comp: 8th toughest competition among regulars (third line)
- Qual Team: 12th best teammates among regulars (fourth line)
- Corsi for 5×5 % REL: -8.9%
- Shots on goal/percentage: 76 shots/6.6%
- Boxcars: 63GP, 5-8-13
RE 16-17: 36GP, 2-2-4 .111
- Ouch! Oilers have improved their roster depth since last fall. There are other players on the game board.
- Why so few games projected for him? A year ago, Andrew Miller (6GP, 0-0-0) got a look but was unsatisfactory in the role. Pakarinen was injured out of camp, but when he showed well in Bakersfield he got a look. He won the job.
- And then? He has good speed, has reasonable size (6.01, 215) and some skill. He played well enough to stay in the lineup most of the season.
- Not a lot of skill, though. Well, there is a pretty good story here. Playing with Anton Lander, he was 50 percent in possession and has a 1.19 5×5 per-60 scoring rate with him. Lander was not exactly an offensive dynamo and the young Finn chimed three times when on the ice with him. If he had a more substantial center for a year? Maybe. I think the addition of Jesse Puljujarvi may force him off the roster, eventually.
- Will we see him in a feature role next season? My RE bet is no, but he has a puncher’s chance to hang around all year.
- Who is ahead of him? On RW (his best chance), I have Jordan Eberle, Leon (as required), Nail Yakupov, Jesse Puljujarvi, Zack Kassian.
- Long list. Not really. He should make opening night roster based on what we know (he is probably 5R now, and that is if Puljujarvi makes the team).
- Who is behind him? A-ha. That is where it gets interesting. Peter Chiarelli added Taylor Beck and Drake Caggiula, plus Tyler Pitlick returned and Anton Slepyshev won a RW job out of training camp a year ago.
- Ten RWs will play this coming season? Potentially. Of course, it is cheating a little, as Leon is a center and Caggiula is listed as a LW. There are a lot of options and far less certainty than port side or center.
- How many do you have playing more games than your Pakarinen RE? Eberle, Leon (also a C), Nail, Puljujarvi, Kassian.
- What is the best thing about him? Pakarinen is very aggressive on a team that can be passive at times. I don’t know if he can play NHL hockey successfully, but bet your bottom dollar his coach loves a lot of the aggression in his game.
- Coach likes him? Oh yeah. McLellan: “We were all over the map trying to find players and trying to motivate guys, but Pak wasn’t one of them. I put him right wing, left wing, power play, penalty kill. He was very effective.” Source
- What does he need to work on? Defensive play (this applies to all the kids).
- Is he a kid? No, but he is a prospect—or more accurately, a recently-graduated one. Pakarinen has the coach’s confidence—that is a big deal.
- Is he talented enough? Difficult question. I think there are 50 AHL players who are as good as the bottom 50 players in the NHL. I think Puljujarvi is in that pool, a place where luck and coaching confidence are a big damned deal.
- What one thing will keep him from have a productive NHL career? I’m not sure the young man can score enough to beat out the oncoming rush. He could have a significant 3line career if 15 goals were achievable each year—I just don’t know if he can score 15 on a 3line. My guess would be unlikely.
- You like him? Yes. I don’t like him like vanilla ice cream or sex or CR or that feeling you get on the first truly chilly morning in fall, but I like him.
- Good grief. Just stick to the facts. Give me an example of why you like him. Here is an LT summary from one of his games: Iiro Pakarinen had a helluva game, scoring one, assisting on another, hitting everything in sight and moving up and down the lineup like Casey Candaele in 1987. He was (Corsi events) 8-2 with Letestu, 8-4 with Kassian, 3-6 with Lander, 3-2 with Hendricks, 0-1 with Hall, 1-4 with Eberle, 2-1 with Draisaitl, 2-0 with Purcell, 1-0 with Yakupov and 0-0 with Pouliot but did play 28 seconds with him (these are all evens Corsi events).
- Wow. Impressive. Yes. And rare. That is our issue.
- If you had to bet, will he make it? He has already made it. Scott Cullen’s draft work tells us that Pakarinen had a 10 percent chance of playing in 100 NHL games based on his draft pedigree. He is at 80 games now, and should hit 100 during the 2016-17 season. He will be a made man by the time you go shopping for your Valentine.
- How much does Kassian have to do with Pakarinen’s future? Hmmm. Good question.
- Do you have an answer? I think Peter Chiarelli teams have more Kassians and Todd McLellan teams have more Pakarinens. Kassian is a better Kassian than Pakarinen is a Pakarinen, so the edge goes to Kassian here.
- Truly, you have a dizzying intellect. Wait till I get going!
- Who is the closest comparable to Pakarinen in the system? Bah! Mahdoton! I will say this: Pakarinen has Tyler Pitlick’s job. Bigly.
- Why this song? I asked my brain to find the most Finnish song and this was what it said. Fun song, fun player. No matter how this turns out, it is already a great story.