#1 Prospect: Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson

Current Rank: #1
Summer 2009: #1

As time rolls on and the hype blurs the memory, it becomes extremely important to remember what was said before the Oilers drafted Magnum PS.

Redline report before the draft: “blazing speed and is the best pure skater in the draft. He has good size and strength, and has been competing in the Swedish Elite League all year, so he may be able to step in and play in the NHL right away.”

The knock on MPS (and the reason he fell to #10) surrounds his 7-goal season in the SEL as a 17-year old. NHL teams passed over him 1-9 because there was a concern that the big Swede (he was 6.01, 201 when he turned 18 in April–that’s pretty close to Horcoff’s vitals) might not be able to score goals moving forward. Before the draft, an NHL scout compared MPS to Markus Naslund. “He gets from point A to point B faster than anyone else in the draft. He also reminds me of Naslund in the way he can hide out from the defense, but he’s more of a playmaker than Markus and not as good of a scorer.”

There are other important things we need to remember about this player, so let’s list them here:

  • “I can play in the men’s league and I can take a hit, for sure. The physical game will not be a problem for me.”-MPS
  • “He can play physical, he’s big and strong. I don’t see anything that can stop him from playing on the smaller rinks.” -Victor Hedman
  • “He had just 7 goals and 17 points in 50 regular season games this season, but it’s important to remember that Paajarvi is a teenager playing for Timra in the Swedish Elite League. The SEL is a professional league believed to be on par with, if not slightly better than, the American Hockey League.”-Shawn Roarke

The top 10 went like this:

  • 1 through 5 as expected. I felt Hedman was a better #1 and that Evander Kane should go #3, but the first five off the board were predictable.
  • #6 and Phoenix chooses a player they could have drafted later in the first round. That meant someone was going to fall to the Oilers.
  • Guy Flaming indicated after the draft that the Oilers were convinced that MPS would be long gone, and their list at #10 included names like Nazim Kadri, USHL defender John Moore and WHL winger Scott Glennie.
  • Kadri goes at 7 and then Dallas surprised by selecting Scott Glennie at 8th. Ottawa follows by taking Jared Cowen from Spokane.
  • Oilers select MPS although he was well up their list and assumed unavailable.

The interesting player I’ll compare as years roll along is Kadri. As an Oiler fan, I’m quite familiar with London Knights offensive stars (Schremp, Gagner) and their numbers being perhaps inflated by increased time on ice totals and plenty of PP opportunities. I don’t want to oversell this angle (Kadri’s Knights scored 285 goals, Gagner’s Knights 301 and Schremp’s 300) but that TOI total may factor in to how Kadri projects in the future.

The main reason Oiler fans worry over this player is the thing that kept him from going in that top 6: offense. MPS has made progress in his 18-year old season.

  • Age 17: 50gp, 7-10-17 .340 -6 (21:27) 4pims 11:13 103SOG
  • Age 18: 25gp, 7-9-16 .640 -1 (15-16) 0pims 15:35 76SOG

Come spring time, we’re going to be asking if Paajarvi-Svensson is among the team’s top 4 left wingers for 10-11. Rob Vollman at Puck Prospectus has been doing exceptional work with regard to SEL-to-NHL translation and MPS’s numbers over an 82 game NHL schedule come out as 18-23-41, or about the same as Patrick O’Sullivan’s current pace in the show. Considering age and the number of development seasons still to come, that’s a quality total.

MPS likes Naslund as a comparable (1/1 at age 18 in the SEL) and I’m leaning toward another Finn who played in the SEL as a teenager: Tomas Sandstrom. Here are the 18-year old seasons:

  • Naslund 39gp, 22-18-40 (1.03) for a 2.95/goal-per-game MoDo team.
  • Sandstrom 36gp, 23-14-37 (1.03) for a 3.97/goal-per-game Brynas team.
  • Paajarvi 25gp, 7-9-16 (.640) for a 2.48/goal-per-game Timra team.

We’ll have a longer look at this during the summer when the season is complete, but I think (in terms of offense) Sandstrom looks like a very strong comp at this time. During the Prendergast draft era the club hit a monster big fly (Hemsky) and have another one (Gagner) who may end up in the seats. Stu MacGregor took over as head of the scouting department in September 2007 and the team has selected Jordan Eberle and Paarjavi-Svensson as the first round picks in 2008 and 2009. History tells us that expecting both to emerge as impact players is too much to dream, but the first few months of observing MPS suggests he’s going to be a good one.

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