Before we were able to watch Magnus Pääjärvi streak around NHL ice, sweater flapping in his wake, it was difficult to know exactly what the Oilers had on their hands. He's wondrous talent with jaw-dropping speed and strength to go with it. The scouting reports all said excellent things but dinged him for a lack of high-level hands, and that lack of high-level hands saw him drop 3-5 spots in the 2009 NHL entry draft. Oilers' fans got small glimpses of Paajarvi in highlights and the World Junior Championship, but when it came to projecting the player, we only had his own comparable, Maxim Afinogenov, and the math's comparables, Peter Forsberg, Thomas Steen, Michael Nylander, Niklas Andersson, and Mats Lindgren.
With his first NHL season under his belt, it's time to look at the comps again.
I took the list of SEL players from the prior comps post and whittled it down to include only those players who jumped to the NHL for their 19 year old seasons.
Pääjärvi didn't put up as much offense as Kopitar and Sundin, but surprisingly, for me at least, he's kept pace with the Sedins.
If we normalize the scoring for era effects, Nylander's 19-year old scoring levels drop significantly.
Pääjärvi is still in the range of the Sedins.
The Oilers were an awful team last year, significantly worse than the Canucks but in the range of Nylander's Whalers, Kopitar's Kings and Sundin's Nordiques. The 2010 Oilers, however, were the lowest-scoring of the bunch, so it's worth looking at team effects as well.
|Player||Pos||19 Year||P/G||Team G||Team G/G||% Off|
Pääjärvi's percentage of total offense (18.2%) comes in third behind Kopitar and Sundin, but ahead of Nylander and the Sedins. In other words, no matter how we slice his rookie season, Pääjärvi produced offense at a rate similar to the Sedins and Nylander. I'll freely admit to being shocked by the numbers, and I think most readers will be shocked as well.
Even though it took him 20 games to figure out his new league and 30 games before he began to break even, Pääjärvi's numbers are still impressive when considered in light of his peer group. He's overshadowed by his more heralded teammates Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, and the shadow is only going to grow when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins comes to town, but the kid has a bright future. If Pääjärvi keeps pace with his peer group and produces like Nylander, Sedin and Sedin, the spotlight will shift to the young Swede and stay there for the next decade.