The Edmonton Oilers have been bleeding useful role players to the other NHL teams for a long time. Jason Chimera, Kyle Brodziak, Tobias Rieder and others come to mind when this subject comes up from time to time. Iiro Pakarinen is one of the first boats against the current we have seen in recent years, and could be a very useful hockey player, procured for free.
PREVIOUSLY NO. 10 ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2004: D Roman Tesliuk (0) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2005: L Dragan Umicevic (0) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2006: D Taylor Chorney (82) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2007: D Jeff Petry (339) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2008: L Linus Omark (79) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2009: C Anton Lander (156) (GM: Steve Tambellini)
- December 2010: D Alex Plante (10) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2011: D David Musil (4) (GM: Steve Tambellini)
- December 2012: D Dillon Simpson (0) (GM: Steve Tambellini)
- December 2013: C Greg Chase (0) (GM: Craig MacTavish)
- December 2014: R Tyler Pitlick (27) (GM: Steve Tambellini)
The long shots are full bore by the time we get halfway through the list. Jeff Petry shines like a beacon here, Anton Lander is 156 games into a career that is still touch and go, and high picks like Alex Plante stand out as important, but in the bad way. Prendergast/Lowe got Petry, but the real drama is a player like Alex Plante. He was a high pick who was questionable from the moment he was chosen; by 2010, he was taking on concussions when he hit No. 10 on this list.
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- 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.
- Hockey’s Future: Pakarinen plays like a demon in tight spots, and his stick handling ability and skating agility compares favorably to any of the top young players in Finland. Rather than focus on artistic playmaking, however, Pakarinen prefers the physical elements of the game. Offensively, he does have a hard, accurate shot which suggests he could be a dangerous sniper. While his physical style explains his pedestrian offensive numbers, that abrasiveness has gained him both attention and notoriety from scouts. As coaches and scouts will tell you, it’s easier to tone down a player who is too aggressive than it is to try and instill competitiveness.
Florida let him go at the same time Edmonton waved goodbye to Samu Perhonen. He was part of the 2011 draft, so in some peculiar way he took the place of Tobias Rieder among Oilers hopefuls.
- Summer 2014: No. 26
- Winter 2015: No. 5
- Summer 2016: No. 6
- Winter 2016: No. 10
Important to note that Pakarinen remains a pretty damn good prospect despite falling down the list. Connor McDavid and Ethan Bear from this years draft, along with aggressive procurement by Peter Chiarelli (Griffin Reinhart, Anders Nilsson) have Pakarinen here. Anyone who has watched the Oilers this year knows he is building a case to hang around as a regular roster player.
Oilers Finnish Scout Matti Virmanen pushed hard for Pakarinen who played for the Silver Medal winning Finns and their GM Jari Kurri at WHC
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) June 16, 2014
- Pakarinen on his first NHL goal: “I don’t even remember. I was a little bit shocked. It was so fast of a situation. I jumped on the ice and the rebound was there and I tried to shoot as hard as I can.” Source
- Lowetide Nov 2015: He’s in the NHL now, I was disappointed McLellan didn’t get to see him in TC. It’s an uphill climb now, Leon and Slepy cloud the view, but there’s a chance for him and that’s all any Pakarinen can ask for in a season. His 2.13/60 estimate is No. 2 among all Condors, behind Winquist. Source
- Iiro Pakarinen: “I’m an all-around player, I think I can play on all four lines. If they need me on the first or second line, I think I can be there. If they want me to play on the fourth line, then I can play simple and harder and grind it a little bit more. That’s what I think is good about my game.” Source
- Todd McLellan: “I liked his practice Saturday, it was the first time I’ve really experience Iiro in practice. I thought he looked strong, he competed hard in practice, showing us he wants to play. There’s a good chance he’ll be in the lineup (Sunday) night.” Source
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult Of Hockey #26 Iiro Pakarinen, 8. Scored a pair of goals, both on excellent shots and both after outstanding second efforts. On the 2-1 goal he lost his stick during a puck battle in the corner, recovered it, and drifted into the slot to lash home Lander’s fine pass. The other was all Pakarinen’s own doing, when he harassed two Detroit defenders on the forecheck, bumping one off the puck, then stealing the disc from the other before wiring home another quick release wrister that surprised Howard on the short side. Some long overdue production from the bottom six.
When Fernando Pisani left, the Oilers decided to force a little more offense into the lineup on their third line. Ryan Jones brought a physical style, worked like a bugger and had legit scoring ability, so he won the day. I was not a fan, not because Jones lacked talent, but because the team needed someone who could bring more of a two-way element to the game.
Two years later, the Oilers made me rue the day I questioned Jones by gifting fans with Lennart Petrell. At that point, Edmonton had a real issue with a lack of responsible wingers that has continued through this day. Iiro Pakarinen is not the Godsend checker I have been praying for, but he is aggressive on the forecheck, has some actual ability and there is structure to his game (If someone asked me to describe Petrell as an Oiler, it would be something like ‘only the boards could keep him in’).
There is a job for someone here and maybe Iiro Pakarinen gets it. He is not Pisani as a two-way player, but he could be a Ryan Jones-type scorer with at least the semblance of a defensive conscience. I believe he is a better prospect than either Jones or Petrell, and is a high-water mark in terms of free hockey forwards brought in to help. They are applying for the job Marc Pouliot never wanted, Andrew Cogliano scoffed at, Tobias Rieder should be filling. Ah, the stories we could tell if they were interesting.
THE 2011 DRAFT
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, No. 1 overall. Splendid player despite what you hear, 200-foot game. Graduated.
- Oscar Klefbom, No. 19 overall. Top 4D with close to complete skill set. Graduated.
- David Musil, No. 31 overall. Smart D, foot speed is a problem and now Reinhart blocks him. A candidate the Winter Top 20.
- Samu Perhonen, No. 63 overall. Big goalie back in Finland. No longer in organization.
- Travis Ewanyk, No. 74 overall. Tough as nails checking C now in Ottawa organization.
- Dillon Simpson, No. 92 overall. Defensive D just getting his season going. A Candidate for Winter Top 20.
- Tobias Rieder, No. 114 overall. Scouting home run, he’s in the NHL. No longer in organization.
- Martin Gernat, No. 122 overall. Appears to be in the final year with the organization. Not a Candidate at this time for Winter Top 20.
- Laurent Brossoit, No. 164 overall. Flames draft pick acquired in Ladislav Smid salary dump.Has progressed very well as an Oilers prospect. No. 6 prospect, Winter Top 20.
- Frans Tuohimaa, No. 182 overall. Playing well in the Swedish second tier league. No longer in organization.
- Iiro Pakarinen, No. 184 overall. The Panthers drafted but did not sign him, and Pakarinen was plucked by Edmonton for only money. He is 34 games into his NHL career and we cannot see how it turns out, but the range of skills has me impressed. He has no strong connection to Peter Chiarelli so could be playing his final games in this league, but I like his potential a lot. No. 10 prospect, Winter Top 20.
- 5×5 points per 60: 1.11
- 5×4 points per 60: NIL
- TOI: 10:11
- Corsi For 5×5 %: 50.2
- Corsi Rel: -0.7
- Shots on goal/percentage: 19/15.8%
- Boxcars: 18GP, 3-0-3