Put your GM/Coach hat on for a moment. What do you think the Oilers should do with this young fella? I think he’s played well recently. In fact, I’d say he really hasn’t played bad at all this year, despite sitting out a handful of games. I think he’s just had a big mental struggle with the game and lost confidence. I could be wrong, but I think he’s been struggling to score like other good players that have been here and just can’t seem to get it going no matter what they do.
Coaches seem to try and fight those moments off with some hard work on the lower ranks… like Quinn did with Sam Gagner, for example. Magnus Paajarvi has played much of this season on a 3rd line unit that has had some variation to it. It hasn’t really been working for him, that I can see. I think his work level has been fairly consistent, so take note that I don’t think that he’s been a bad player or have regrets we drafted him. I’m just asking.. what’s best for Paajarvi?
To me, I think the Oilers really have two options here…:
Option 1: Let him sink or swim in a top-six role for MORE than one game at a time (for christsakes, let the kid build up some chemistry/momentum). If he fails there, then consider option 2.
Option 2: Send him down to Oklahoma City and bring someone else up. Perhaps they call up Gilbert Brule, despite needing to clear re-entry waivers. Are we really in fear of him getting claimed after this Lombardi fiasco? Lombardi practically did us a favor, in that regard.
Option 1… well, I don’t really see that happening because the Oilers are in the playoff hunt. It’s only December, but we all know Elliott Friedman’s research in regards to the importance of being above the playoff cut line this early in the season. If not, read here. So on that note, it might be too risky to play Paajarvi in a top six role and bring out a guy there that is already doing well. So we can scratch that idea.
That leaves us with option 2… send him down. I’d do this. As I said, I have absolutely nothing against Paajarvi. I really love him, as a matter of fact, and think he’ll be a great player. My hope here is just to do what we can to help him get over this incredible hump that he seems to be stuck on. I think playing in the AHL will help him become the player he should become. Think of Eric Staal and how big of a leap he took following the lockout year in which he was assigned to the Lowell Lock Monsters of the AHL. Let him light it up down there for a bit, and bring someone else up here for a bit who will fit in more with Jones and Belanger.
For the record, Paajarvi does NOT require waivers to be sent to Oklahoma City (he has to play 2 more years up here or 59 NHL games to require waivers). So, now is the time to do it if they wish to do it.
What say you? Sound off about it in the comment section too.