Paajarvi, beating everyone to the puck in the minors, gets another chance to prove he's worth it. Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.
It was inevitable. With the loss of Jordan Eberle in a game against Dallas over the weekend, it was just a matter of time before the Oilers harvested from the ripe crop in Oklahoma City. However, the three call-ups this go round are all familiar faces who have seen their share of NHL call-ups with the Oil. Ryan O'Marra, Magnus Paajarvi, and Gilbert Brule (on re-entry waivers) are all en route to Edmonton for the beginning of a three game homestand after the team had a brutally long, and unglamorous road trip.
Barons Press Release:
General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have recalled forwards Magnus Paajarvi and Ryan O'Marra from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League and have placed Gilbert Brule on re-entry waivers.
Ryan O'Marra, the solid heart player, who has shown success on the Barons highly successful penalty kill line, has found another gear in his game lately. Even when the Barons find themselves in a hole, O'Marra plays a gritty shutdown game that could come in handy for the Oilers.
Magnus Paajarvi is getting a second chance to prove his value. I ranted this week that Paajarvi hadn't really shown much offensive prowess while in Oklahoma City, and continued to show much concern for his lack of goal scoring. However, through ten games he's at nearly a point a game, and instead of being the "shoot first" guy, he has become the setup man using his speed and quick hands to his advantage. Based on the tenfold games he played with the Barons, he's a dead ringer for a good showing in the upcoming sked for the Oilers. They'll need speed, they'll need smarts, and Paajarvi can manage both. The Devils, Ducks, and Kings will be a good test of where he's at both mentally and physically.
Gilbert Brule is the same Brule you've always know. He may be on his last legs within the Oilers organization, but he does add a wrinkle to an occasional power play unit that requires a heavy shot. His +/- has taken a beating, and he's struggled occasionally with health, but overall he's been an important role player for the Barons. He's not afraid to take shots through traffic, can indeed play a tough forward game, but still takes some really bone-headed penalties at the wrong time. His last hurrah might be inevitable, but he might have one more tool in the bag of tricks before his time runs short in copper and blue.
From my perspective, the loss in Dallas was a heartless display of everything that has gone wrong for the Oilers this season (and last season). The team is in desperate need of a spark, and with two incredible youngsters sidelined in Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, management seems desperate to pull from the lower ranks to find it. Are these three viable replacements for Eberle or RNH? Absolutely not. But when the tires have been slashed, pop the trunk, find a 40mph replacement, and move on.
For those worried about the team in Oklahoma City, they'll get a little help with the return of Josh Green and Teemu Hartikainen and the inevitable return of Linus Omark in late January. However, they'll need to stay healthy, and potentially rely on Ryan Martindale and Cameron Abney in the ECHL to provide support. They too begin a three game homestand this week in a 3 games in 3 nights scenario. It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff adjusts after losing three important players in the lineup.