Magnus Pääjärvi, The Next Michael Nylander? Peter Forsberg? Mats Lindgren?

Sam Gagner is tracking closely to Dave Keon and Bobby Clarke, at least according to the numbers.  Last week, I queried every NHL forward in history in search of a comparable for Gagner and came up with a couple of names that weren't previously considered.  Today I'm in search of the statistical comparables for Magnus Pääjärvi, Edmonton's Swedish Sensation.

If you'd like to know who Pääjärvi considers a comparable, look no further than the conversation we had with him last Spring:

C&B:   I notice on your website that you list your favourite player as Maxim Afinogenov.  I was surprised it wasn't a Swede!  What is it that you like about Afinogenov's game?  Do you try to model your play after his game at all?

Pääjärvi:  I love everything he does. His style, his speed, and technique. I try to learn details from him, like the way he gets to net and the way he skates.

Afinogenov is an excellent comparable in that he's lightning quick, possesses more top-end speed than nearly anyone else in the league, and loves to carry the puck; he even has the same knocks, most notably, that he has no finish.  Though Afinogenov is a stylistic comparable, I'm more interested in statistical comparables so that we might have an idea of what the player is capable of moving forward.

The table below contains a list of the only Swedish-born, NHL-bound players to outscore Pääjärvi in the Swedish Elite League in both their seventeen-year-old season and their eighteen-year-old season.

 

Player Pos 17 Year GP G A P P/G
18 Year GP G A P P/G
Inge Hammarstrom LW 1964 20 7 4 11 0.55
1965 21 9 8 17 0.81
Anders Hedberg RW 1968 19 10 13 23 1.21
1969 14 9 14 23 1.64
Roland Eriksson C 1971 14 5 3 8 0.57
1972 14 10 2 12 0.86
Thomas Gradin C 1973 14 4 4 8 0.57
1974 29 16 15 31 1.07
Kent Nilsson C 1973 8 1 2 3 0.38
1974 28 13 12 25 0.89
Peter Forsberg C 1990 23 7 10 17 0.74
1991 39 9 18 27 0.69
Markus Naslund LW 1990 32 10 9 19 0.59
1991 39 22 18 40 1.03
Daniel Sedin LW 1998 50 21 21 42 0.84
1999 50 19 26 45 0.90
Henrik Sedin C 1998 49 12 22 34 0.69
1999 50 9 38 47 0.94
Magnus Pääjärvi LW 2008 50 7 10 17 0.34
2009 49 12 17 29 0.59

 

This is some impressive company for a nineteen-year-old to keep.  However, like the NHL, the SEL has undergone a number of changes and shifts in play over the years, so it's not fair to compare a player's production in 2009 directly to a player's production in, say, 1991.  Thus, just as I did when looking for Gagner's comparables, I've normalized the production of all NHL-bound SEL forwards in their eighteen-year-old season.  In this case, I used 2.75 goals per game per team as the benchmark (the SEL's average in the 00's was 2.76 goals per game), and then adjusted the numbers to show a full season's worth (fifty-five games) of production in the SEL.  The columns in gray are the normalized and adjusted stats.

Below is that list:

 

Player Pos 18 Year GP G A P P/G
NG NA NP NP/G
Anders Hedberg RW 1969 14 9 14 23 1.64
- - - -
Tord Lundstrom LW 1963 14 10 6 16 1.14
- - - -
Thomas Gradin C 1974 29 16 15 31 1.07
- - - -
Kent Nilsson C 1974 28 13 12 25 0.89
- - - -
Dan Labraaten LW 1969 14 8 4 12 0.86
- - - -
Roland Eriksson C 1972 14 10 2 12 0.86
- - - -
Inge Hammarstrom LW 1965 21 9 8 17 0.81
- - - -
Jorgen Pettersson LW 1974 29 19 3 22 0.76
- - - -
Rolf Edberg C 1968 20 7 5 12 0.60
- - - -
Henrik Sedin C 1999 50 9 38 47 0.94
9 39 48 0.87
Daniel Sedin LW 1999 50 19 26 45 0.90
19 26 46 0.83
Markus Naslund LW 1991 39 22 18 40 1.03
24 20 44 0.79
Mats Lindgren C 1993 22 11 6 17 0.77
22 12 35 0.63
Magnus Pääjärvi LW 2009 49 12 17 29 0.59
14 19 33 0.60
Nicklas Backstrom C 2005 46 10 16 26 0.57
13 20 33 0.60
Niklas Andersson LW 1989 38 10 21 31 0.82
10 21 31 0.57
Michael Nylander C 1991 40 11 17 28 0.70
12 18 30 0.54
Peter Forsberg C 1991 39 9 18 27 0.69
10 20 29 0.53
Mats Sundin C 1989 34 10 8 18 0.53
16 13 29 0.52
Robert Nilsson C 2002 41 8 13 21 0.51
11 17 28 0.51
Thomas Steen C 1978 25 13 4 17 0.68
20 6 26 0.48
Kjell Dahlin RW 1981 36 16 7 23 0.64
18 8 26 0.48
Mikael Renberg RW 1990 29 11 6 17 0.59
16 9 25 0.46
Niklas Sundstrom RW 1993 37 7 12 19 0.51
10 15 25 0.45
Anze Kopitar C 2005 47 8 12 20 0.43
10 15 25 0.45
Mats Naslund LW 1977 35 13 6 19 0.54
14 6 20 0.36
Johan Garpenlov LW 1986 29 5 8 13 0.45
8 12 20 0.36
Mathias Johansson C 1992 12 2 3 5 0.42
8 11 19 0.35
Mats Hallin LW 1976 15 2 5 7 0.47
5 12 16 0.30
Fredrik Bremberg C 1991 39 9 6 15 0.38
10 7 16 0.30
Loui Eriksson LW 2003 46 8 5 13 0.28
10 6 16 0.29
Tomas Forslund RW 1986 23 3 5 8 0.35
6 10 15 0.28
Andreas Dackell RW 1990 3 0 1 1 0.33
0 14 14 0.26
Jan Erixon LW 1980 32 6 6 12 0.38
7 7 14 0.26
Ulf Dahlen RW 1985 22 4 3 7 0.32
7 6 13 0.24
Jonas Hoglund LW 1990 40 5 5 10 0.25
5 5 11 0.20
Frans Nielsen C 2002 47 3 6 9 0.19
4 7 11 0.19
Pelle Eklund C 1981 23 2 3 5 0.22
4 5 9 0.16
Joakim Lindstrom C 2001 42 4 3 7 0.17
5 4 9 0.16
Jonas Nordqvist C 2000 42 3 4 7 0.17
4 5 8 0.15
Christian Berglund LW 1998 37 2 4 6 0.16
3 6 8 0.15
Johan Davidsson C 1993 38 2 5 7 0.18
2 6 8 0.15
Tommy Lehman C 1982 28 1 5 6 0.21
1 7 8 0.15
Kristian Huselius LW 1996 13 2 0 2 0.15
8 0 8 0.14
Jimmie Olvestad LW 1998 44 2 4 6 0.14
2 5 7 0.13
Bjorn Melin RW 1999 23 3 0 3 0.13
7 0 7 0.12
Michael Holmqvist C 1997 41 2 3 5 0.12
3 4 7 0.12
Mattias Ritola LW 2005 30 0 3 3 0.10
0 6 6 0.11
Andreas Johansson C 1991 30 3 1 4 0.13
4 1 6 0.10
Samuel Pahlsson C 1995 36 1 3 4 0.11
1 4 5 0.10
Marcus Nilson LW 1996 37 0 3 3 0.08
0 4 4 0.07

 

There are nine players for which comparables are not possible because I couldn't find SEL league stats prior to 1976.  However, the players that we were able to use tell quite a story.  The Sedins and Markus Naslund are still well in front of our man, but Pääjärvi leapfrogs guys like Peter Forsberg, Thomas Steen, Michael Nylander, and Niklas Andersson to settle in behind a very familiar face in Mats Lindgren.

This paints a very different picture of  Pääjärvi and puts his 18-year-old season into almost unbelievable territory as far as comps go.  The problem in trying to find an accurate comp is that Pääjärvi is a left wing, and outside of Niklas Andersson, the seven closest comps all played center in the SEL. So we can say that Pääjärvi isn't the scorer that Markus Naslund was, or we can drop down and say Pääjärvi was a much better scorer than Kjell Dahlin, Mikael Renberg or Niklas Sundstrom.

The other alternative is following the numbers strictly and using Nicklas Backstrom, Mats Lindgren, Michael Nylander, Peter Forsberg, Niklas Andersson and Mats Sundin as his group of comparables.  No matter how we decide to slice this statistical comp, it bodes well for Pääjärvi and raises his profile to heights not previously discussed for the young man.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The Copper & Blue

You must be a member of The Copper & Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Copper & Blue. You should read them.

Join The Copper & Blue

You must be a member of The Copper & Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Copper & Blue. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker