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Magnus Paajarvi Belongs In Edmonton

Celebrating a third puck battle won.
Celebrating a third puck battle won.

In "Oilers Forward Deployments & Results, AKA "Hemsky & Hall Are Really Good"" I noted one one of the more surprising aspects of the 2011-12 Oilers:

Magnus Paajarvi was beaten by bad luck last season, but won the territorial battle. Compare his results to anyone else facing third-line minutes and the contrast is stark. If the Oilers want to be a competitive team, they need Paajarvi on their roster - not anchors like Petrell, Hordichuk and Eager.

One of our newer regular commenters, eskimo44, took exception with that assessment:

From what i recall he posted a poor sh% is the SEL too, or at least the talk was he was a poor finisher (i can’t remember if i actually saw data or if it was just from reports). A 8.3 sh% is not particularly strong for a scorer. In his NHL career he has a 6.6 sh% and in the AHL it’s 6.2%, that’s not good. Just by looking at the sh% of the Oilers’ leading scorers it’s apparent it isn’t good enough. I believe 11% is average, but i’m not certain.


He is clearly not too good for the AHL, so why not play him there. This is the reason well run teams like Detroit, San Jose, and LA seem to develop alot of quality prospects. By letting them play so long in the AHL their prospects work on their skills and get comfortable using them in the pro game.

The table below contains Paajarvi's shot and goal totals as a professional. He played his 17 and 18-year old seasons in the Eliteserien for Timra, his 19-year old season in the NHL with the Oilers and split his 20-year old season between Edmonton and Oklahoma City in the AHL.

Age SOG G %
17 103 7 6.80%
18 160 12 7.50%
19 180 15 8.33%
20 179 9 5.03%

Career 622 43 6.91%
17-19 443 34 7.67%

In his first three professional seasons, Paajarvi was a 7.7% shooter. He suffered through a terrible slump to start the 2011-12 season, and shot just 2.5% in Edmonton. He broke out of his slump in Oklahoma City and shot...7%. Assume then, that ~7% is his general shooting talent. If he generates 215 shots per season, he's a 15 goal guy. Can he do that? He posted 180 shots as a 19 year old (and scored 15 goals), so 215 is certainly within range.

Like Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi should see some regression in his shooting percentage in 2012-13. As it climbs back closer to his career levels, he will score in the range of 15 goals and 35-40 points. Those point totals place Paajarvi among the top 180 forwards in the league, i.e. a top six scorer. His zonestart-adjusted Corsi was 133rd in the league last season, i.e. a top six possession driver. The Oilers have a spot in the lineup that allows for Paajarvi to face 3rd-level minutes - it's an ideal slot for him.

It turns out that just 78 forwards in the NHL in 2011-12 bested Paajarvi's zonestart-adjusted Corsi and scored 15 or more goals. Broken out by team, the list looks like this:

Team Qualifying Players
Boston * 8
Pittsburgh * 7
Vancouver * 6
Chicago * 5
Detroit * 5
Philadelphia * 5
St. Louis * 5
Winnipeg 5
New Jersey * 4
San Jose * 4
Colorado 3
Los Angeles * 3
Ottawa * 3
Phoenix * 3
Montreal 2
Washington * 2
Anaheim 1
Columbus 1
Dallas 1
Edmonton 1
Florida * 1
Nashville * 1
Toronto 1
Buffalo 0
Calgary 0
New York * 0
Tampa 0
Islanders DNQ
Carolina DNQ
Minnesota DNQ

*made playoffs

The Islanders, Carolina and Minnesota didn't even have a single player play 40 games and best Paajarvi's possession numbers. Four other teams had players with the possession numbers, but none were 15 goal scorers. Seven teams had just one player make it. Of those 14 teams, just three made the playoffs, two on the back of Vezina-level goaltender, the other by sneaking through an awful division.12 of the 14 teams with the most of these type of players made the playoffs. Good teams have good players.

All of those bad teams, including the Oilers, especially the Oilers, could use a player capable of winning the possession battle and scoring 15 goals. Is there any way a team that's finished 30th, 30th and 29th in their last three seasons can afford to leave a top-six scorer and top-six possession driver out of their lineup?