Friday, 8 June 2012
06/07/12 Paajarvi and the Trade Block
Where does Magnus Paajarvi fit into the Oilers equation going forward? He has the tools to be a very good NHL player, but the team's other needs might see him bumped out of town.
Barring a surprise selection or some kind of trade at the draft involving the first overall pick, the Oilers will be adding Nail Yakupov next season. The only available spot for him in the top six is at left wing on the second line. That means there is no spot for Paajarvi in the top six already, and that's before the Oilers deal with the possibility of bringing back Ryan Smyth or inserting Hartikainen.
When Oilers fans talk about trade possibilities the name that most often comes up is Sam Gagner, but trading Gagner doesn't make a lot of sense unless there's a plan to replace him. Gagner has collected 220 points since the 2007-08 season. Over that span of time, a total of 35 centers have scored at least that many points. That's it.
Moving Taylor Hall to center would be fine and dandy, as long as it was sure to work out. Hall would be learning the position from scratch at the NHL level. Also, Hall is currently 65/162 in the faceoff circle over his short career (40.1%), while Gagner just posted a career high 47.6% and has improved every year except 2010-11. Having an elite player like Hall at center would be great, but it comes with risk and growing pains. Aside from Hall there aren't a lot of options out there to replace Gagner on the second line, and none currently in the organization.
With a Gagner trade a dicey proposition, that leaves Paajarvi as the most obvious trade chip this off season. He doesn't have the value that he had last year, but Paajarvi still has the potential to be a solid, complete player. Being a former tenth overall pick doesn't hurt either (even though it shouldn't matter, it helps). Paajarvi seems to be the most valuable yet expendable player on the roster.
The Oilers don't have to trade him, of course. His entry level deal runs through next season, and there's no penalty to playing him in the AHL where his salary is just $67,500 and he doesn't count against the cap. However, when looking at the Oilers' most valuable assets that they could manage without, the young Swede tops the list.
If the Oilers move a forward for help in another area, it wouldn't be shocking to see it be Magnus Paajarvi.