Today I continue my reports on the Oilers Swedish projects, with a report on the always exciting Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson.
Pääjärvi-Svensson was the 10th player taken in last years draft, maybe a bit lower than expected. He's an incredibly fast winger who's been a star on the Swedish junior teams the last few years and started his career on the Malmö Redhawks (my local team). Here's what some of the scouts had to say about him coming into the draft:¨
"An offensive type of player that skates very well, has fine technical skills, excellent hockey sense and a nose for the net. Pääjärvi is very dangerous one-on-one and also a gifted playmaker, although his sniper instinct is more obvious. Pääjärvi always puts up a lot of points. Needs to improve his defensive game as well as work ethic."
"Swedish winger Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson possesses blazing speed and is the best pure skater in the entire draft. He's also got good size and strength, and has been competing against men in the Swedish Elite League all year, so he may be ready to step in and play in the NHL right away."
Let's look at his stats this season:
|2009 - Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson||27
Let's compare that to last season:
|2008 - Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson||50
First up, don't take too much notice of the 100% faceoff statistic, as he's only taken 2.
You can see that he's just one point shy of equaling last years point totals in roughly half the games. This can be attributed to the fact that he is averaging about 16 minutes a game compared to last years 11 and that he has a whole years worth of experience playing in the Swedish elite league. Another stat that stands out is that he is taking a ton of shots, at 88 he's 22 shots ahead of Gabriel Karlsson at 66. This could either be seen as great confidence or a tendency to maybe hold onto the puck a bit too much (actually it's a bit of both), but we'll get into that later.
Pääjärvi's greatest strength is his skating, he is incredibly fast and has the ability to put in an extra gear. Think of him as one of those nitro-charged muscle-cars. Just when you think he's reached top speed, there's another burst that separates him from defenders. Most of the time he breaks in from the wing, gets separation and heads for the net. He needs to work on his finishing moves though, as he has a tendency to end up to close to the goalie before shooting or making his final move. But if he keeps working at it, I'm positive we're gonna see a distinct increase in goals.
He's a really good puckhandler and possesses great balance, making it hard to grab the puck from him. Offensively he's pretty much the complete package, he has a nice wrist shot and can unload with the slapshot, but as I alluded to earlier he has a tendency to look for the shot first and occasionally misses teammates with better positioning. He's is a great passer though, but needs to work on his offensive awareness. The kid's just 18 and I'm certain that this will improve, I'm definitely not saying he's a selfish player, far from it. He just needs to work on adapting his speed to his surroundings at times.
Because of his offensive skills his defense gets overlooked. He's not a worldbeater, but is able to make plays because of his speed and is steadily improving. My biggest concern is in his physical play, bear in mind that this report is largely based on the last few games and that he had recently got a concussion during an Canadian tour. However, I do get a sense that he tends to shy away a bit from contact and doesn't finish his checks when he has a chance. He did look better in the last game I watched so hopefully this is something at least partly connected to the concussion, he does work hard along the boards though.
The kid oozes confidence, and you always notice him on the ice and off, I guess you guys remember his comments from the Juniors last year. To sum it all up, MPS is truly fun to watch and hardly a game goes by where he doesn't do something to wow you!
Once again I asked Jimmy Hamrin who runs Sweden's best Timrå IK blog at http://blog.st.nu/tikare/ for his comments:
"Pääjärvi is the type of player who can not fail to make the NHL, given his size, stunning skating ability, technique and attitude to training. He fell unexpectedly far down in the draft, lasting until the 10th spot. Mostly due to a lot of talk about his inability to score. Exactly where that came from I do not know, but my personal opinion is that he probably would have scored more goals if he had played in the CHL instead of the Swedish , due to the difference in the quality of opponents.
Goalscoring is something he really has shown proof of this season, at least initially, where he had seven goals in the first 16 rounds, but he has now fallen into a slump with eleven straight games without goals. He creates an awful lot of chances and is showing an amazing drive in every game. He's got a good shot and has scored on the powerplay by going top shelf with a slaphot from the blueline and has a quick and hard wrist shot.
His great strength is the offensive game, where he is one of the best players in the league at creating the most goalscoring opportunities, both for himself and others. But he is also a very strong backchecker where he uses his skating to catch up with opponents and win back the puck far down the ice, he's also great in situations where the team has been under a lot of pressure as he manages to hold onto the puck and calm down the team.
His weakness is that he is not that physical and that maybe he doesn't have that killer instinct and winner's mentality yet. He really loves to play hockey and always has fun doing it and that's what drives him. I just don't see that burning desire to win at all costs. And it's very rare to see him in a bad mood.
Among his strengths in addition to the already mentioned, is his attitude to training. He's the one who trains the most on the team and is the number one runner. This comes across on the ice where he can play at high speed in long shifts and throughout the matches. He works hard in improving both his shot and skillset and is the kind of guy that you have to put out the lights in the arena to get off the ice.
It's really is just a matter of time before he can step up and play in the NHL. It could be as early as next season or season after that. According to my opinion he should wait until he's more or less sure that he takes a spot on the NHL team , as the Swedish Elite league is more stimulating for him than the AHL. But there is no doubt in my mind that he is a future top 6 player"
Jimmy also echoed my sentiment that MPS has a tendency to end up too close to net on his drives, so this is definitely something he needs to work at.
It's worth noting that Pääjärvi and Anton Lander plays on the same line in Timrå. Lander as the center and Magnus as one of the wingers. They do have good chemistry together, and seem to have a good rapport, but they are not anything like the Sedins to make a Swedish comparison.
My guess and opinion is that they're not suitable to play on the same line in the NHL, at least not at first and neither do I think they will play on the same line at the Juinior WC. As I said in my Anton Lander piece, I see him first and foremost as a checking line player, a hard worker who works hard for the team. MPS in my mind is a future top 6 player in the league, he just has too many tools to not make it ,barring a serious injury. The fact that he is a hard worker only cements that thought, I am a bit worried about the lack of a burning desire to win that Jimmy alluded to in his comments though. Hopefully this can change, starting with juniors.
That being said, I do want him to stay at least another season in the Swedish elite league to work on his game, the Oilers could probably use him next season (probably this one too), but I think it's time to let players develop and not rush them into the NHL.
Watch Pääjärvi's line hold the puck in the zone for a fill minute, capped off by a beautiful Pääjärvi goal.