The Edmonton Oilers are going to be a busy club this summer. Despite a strong core of young offensive talent, thanks to numerous consecutive top five draft picks, this is a team in need of the necessary role players and defense and goaltending in order to become a serious contender, all while managing to keep their salary figures reasonable to make sure they can retain the young talent.
Sounds easier said than done. What the mission for the Oilers does do is throw the future of Magnus Paajarvi up in the air. It’s likely that he’s closer to coming back on a new contract rather than finding his way out in free agency or a trade this summer, but it’s still no guarantee.
Paajarvi has been a player that has been tough to get a read on in his career. He’s bounced back and forth between the Oilers and the Oklahoma City Barons, managing to stick with the Oilers in the shortened 2013 season. He appeared in 42 of 48 games for Edmonton this year.
The former 10th overall pick hasn’t quite developed into the star that the Oilers would have liked. But with names like Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins already in the fold, among others, they may not even need him to for Paajarvi to be an effective player for this club.
He proved that this season. He had 16 points in those 42 games in which he appeared, which was only good for eighth on the team. But it’s becoming pretty clear that he’s not the type of player who’s going to put up points at the pace of the likes of Hall or Jordan Eberle. And that’s perfectly fine.
What Paajarvi has is the potential to become an important player for the Oilers in a secondary role. He used his size effectively this season, playing down around the crease. He proved to be a consistent source of secondary offense, which was helped by the fact that his shooting percentage jumped all the way to 12 percent.
The question is whether or not what Paajarvi is turning out to be is good enough to maintain a spot with the Edmonton Oilers. When trying to keep the futures of folks like Nugent-Hopkins, who will be up for a new deal soon, in mind, does it make sense to lock up Paajarvi, who has been sort of a disappointment?
The answer is a resounding yes. The Oilers need role players like Paajarvi. They need guys who can play that role of planting their big body right in front of opposing goaltenders and keeping the pressure up on the forecheck. They need sources of secondary offense. Paajarvi can be those things.
If the price is reasonable, and given what we’ve seen from him the last two years it will be, signing Paajarvi to a new contract makes a ton of sense for the Oilers. It will probably be on a shorter term, and won’t include the biggest raise on his current entry-level deal, but expect him back in an Oilers sweater in 2013-14.