Magnus Paajarvi is off to quite the start at the World Championships. After registering nine points (5-4-9) and a +8 rating in nine games in the 2010 World Championships, Paajarvi scored seven points (2-5-7) and a +6 rating in 2011, and now has both a silver and a bronze medal in his trophy case. Paajarvi made the All-Star team in 2010, an accomplishment he was unable to duplicate this year, but Paajarvi's impact on tournament this time around was probably better than a year ago, and that should be very encouraging for fans of the Edmonton Oilers.
The biggest difference between 2010 and 2011 is the amount of responsibility that Paajarvi had this year. In 2010 he was limited to just 14:29 per game, which was good enough for just eighth among Sweden's forward group, which seemed to divide ice time with a "top three / middle six / bottom three" format (nine players above 14:00 per game). He certainly played well in that time, but it's not hard to tell that he wasn't being used in key situations.
This year things were much different, Paajarvi played about one minute more per game (15:26), but the bench was wrong differently with a clear "top six / bottom six" distribution (six players with 15:00 per game or more and the next highest at 12:42 per game). This makes it very likely that Paajarvi was being used in key situations with Sweden, and as his plus/minus attests, excelling. Even if we limit his performance to games against the other hockey powers (Canada, Finland, the Czech Republic, the United States, and Russia), Paajarvi went 1-2-3 and +2 in four games, averaging 15:29 per game. Even in the final game (drubbing) against Finland, Paajarvi was one of just six players to finish even or better (he was +1).
That Paajarvi is playing such a large role on the national team at such a young age is extremely encouraging. With young rookies like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle playing such a huge role at such a young age, it's easy to forget that Paajarvi's rookie year is worth getting excited about. Magnus Paajarvi is a keeper.