Bring Back The Electric Norseman!

Jonathan Willis
February 07 2011 01:29PM

Once again, Patrick Thoresen wants to return to the NHL. He tried to land an NHL job last year and was unsuccessful after a spectacular KHL season, so this year he went out and had a more spectacular KHL season. This is a guy who deserves another crack at an NHL job.

Normally, for a player like this who was a defensive specialist the last time he played in the NHL, I’d be busting out the advanced statistics. For Thoresen, I don’t need to (although his are superb); I watched nearly every game he played as a member of the Edmonton Oilers. Defensively, his positioning was as good as any player on the team. He never backed down from a physical battle, he forechecked like a demon, and there could never be any doubt about his work ethic or intensity. Aside from his size, he was the kind of fourth-liner every coach dreams of.

Thoresen’s problem at the NHL level was producing offence. At 17, he came over to the QMJHL and spent two seasons playing major junior hockey in Canada, scoring 73 points in 60 games as a rookie and following that up with 108 points in 71 games the year after. Along the way he was stellar for Norway’s U-18 and U-20 international teams. He went over to Sweden, starting in the Allsvenskan before moving up to the Swedish Elite League for two seasons. In his second year he scored 36 points in 50 games, which was enough to convince the Edmonton Oilers to bring him over and give him a shot at an NHL job.

Thoresen produced relatively well at the AHL level, but managed only six goals and 24 points in a little over 100 games in the NHL. After two seasons, he couldn’t get another NHL job and was forced over to the KHL.

Thoresen’s been a revelation in the KHL. In 107 points in the world’s second-best league, he’s scored 51 times (remarkably, 42 of those goals came at even-strength) and added 66 helpers for a total of 117 points. Along the way, he went plus-63. He’s turned into a faceoff-winning machine over there; with a 55.2% success rate on 754 face-offs. He’s playing in all situations, and finished with a little under 18:00 per game this last season. He’s also been a staple for international Norwegian teams, managing a point per game at last year’s World Championships and five assists in four Olympic games in 2010.

Despite all the success Thoresen has had in the KHL, that’s not where he wants to be. In May of last season, Thoresen explained why he’d be willing to take a massive pay-cut to return to the NHL:

“I know I can score 20-25 goals in the NHL. If so, I’m going to earn the lost money and play in the NHL for many years. I have faith in myself and know what kind of potential I have.”

At 27 years of age, Thoresen’s been a bit of a late-bloomer offensively but he’s still a young man. He’s shown drive, grit and defensive responsibility at the NHL level before. His scoring has shot off the charts since his jump to the KHL, and could represent a major step forward from his last stint in North America. He’s added faceoff ability to his repertoire. Beyond that, all it will take to get him over here is a one-way deal near the league minimum.

This seems to me like a no-brainer. It’s time for someone to take a chance and bring back the Electric Norseman.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 David S
February 07 2011, 11:15PM
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StrangePhD wrote:

And all this time I thought we remembered Thoreson with some fondness... Let's be reasonable though, if he were to find a spot on the Oilers, it would not be at the cost of an Omark or Paajarvi, but of a Jacques or Fraser. I see little reason to doubt that Thoreson is a better player than those two.

Any guy that proves himself to be better than Jacques, Fraser, SMac and (dare I say) Reddox deserves a shot at those positions. Doesn't matter where he's currently playing.

And this idea that once you're "banished" to the KHL, you'll never, ever be able to redeem yourself by simply putting in the time and effort to improve is beyond simplistic. All athletes mature at different rates. The idea that improvement and redemption is impossible is ludicrous. Tell that to Dan Cleary and see how far you get.

Guys like Thoreson get walk-ons into camp. You play them for a few exhibition games and let the chips fall where they may. What have you got to lose?

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#102 oilerbill
February 07 2011, 11:23PM
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I got sick of reading all the bs comments on this, so I just decided to skip it and add my .02.

First of all I don't think Thoresen would be outing any of our top rookies for a spot. If he did then he better be showing something special.

Second why would you tell someone not to get defensive and then say they should defend their opinion? Makes no sence.

Third point is that I am ABSOLUTLY sick of hearing people compare this rookie or that player to the Sedins.... Just in case you morons didn't notice there are TWO of them. Claiming that Gagner needs more time to develop because those 6'3" swedish twins were late developers is pathetic to say the least!! There are no comparables to the Sedins unless you can find me to more 6'+ twins that have played together their ENTIRE lives!!

Fourth all the "so called" experts were saying that Magnus may be the most well rounded and ready of the three to step in to the league before the season started. All I heard is how this guy played with men for the last 3 years. Saying now that he should be held back or making any other excuse for him is a joke. The guy can play, we know that. He will come around in his abilities and will fit in nicely in the NHL.

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#103 Bank Shot
February 07 2011, 11:43PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

You're right, he could have spent another year playing the European game rather than getting used to the NHL. THAT WAY we could have watched him struggle with the same things as a 20 year old rather than as a 19 year old. Oh those would have been good times there.

On next week's episode of Willis-watch 2011, why Marc Pouliot's AHL numbers should land him back with the Oilers.

Hey baggedmilk, can you find a shred of evidence to support your theory that Magnus would have ran in place regarding development by spending another year in an inferior league?

Because it sure didn't seem to hurt Lindros, anyone drafted by the red Wings, or the entire 2003 draft class.

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#104 David S
February 08 2011, 12:34AM
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There's arguments on both sides of the table as to whether Magnus should have been kept in the AHL, and both sides have their points. However we all know the reality is that the Oilers had every intent of keeping him up here to sell the tank job "rebuild". So isn't this back and forth rather pointless?

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#105 Sorensenator
February 08 2011, 12:57AM
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Wow people are retarded. Quit jumping to conclusions already! Willis can write about Barney if he wants to.

With that being said....lol....Willis views Thoresen (spelt SEN at the end so many retards spelt it SON) as being worthy to make another comeback to the NHL, not Edmonton in particular.

It's hilarious, the first three comments to this blog all referenced the Oilers having enough small forwards and 3rd & 4th liners. Do you people even read the material?

Thoresen is a capable winger that may earn a spot with a team like the Penguins, who lack top 6 quality wingers with the exception of Kunitz.

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#106 PhillipSmithson
February 08 2011, 02:49AM
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What do the Oil have to lose? The Norseman has a decent faceoff percentage too?? Do it! Put him in between Omark and Magnus and watch the ice melt with the speed.

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#107 The Towel Boy
February 08 2011, 08:25AM
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My pants have two tubes made of pant that my legs go into!

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#108 dawgbone
February 08 2011, 09:42AM
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The only league where Thoresen's offence hasn't translated is the NHL and that's unfortunate because it's clouded a lot of people's opinions on him.

The fact of the matter is he's at worst a decent bottom 6 NHL player. On a terrible Oilers team in 06-07 (and playing a regular shift during "the stretch"), he managed to not get murdered on the ice when everyone was bleeding goals against.

He was a low event player. His offense wasn't there but his defense was.

It would be a no lose situation for the Oilers to bring Thoresen into the NHL next year. At worst he's an upgrade on Smac/JFJ/Fraser and can contribute on the PK.

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#109 positivebrontefan
February 08 2011, 10:08AM
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Wow!!! Testy bunch! We must be in the Dog days of another 30th place run for this to be such a bitter place. Did we not ask for ELPH? Careful what you wish for fellas. Granted there have been points where the E in ELPH has been lacking but hey, we have another 1,2,or,3 pick comin our way! With a Sean Couturier in our lineup who needs Thoresen anyways. Does he deserve a shoot in the NHL? Hey Omark did. And I think hey's doing fine. Just not here. Give the new kids the ice time.

And stop bitching, it's not like we cheer for Toronto. We actually have an upside.

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#110 grantload
February 08 2011, 10:54AM
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I am sorry, John. If you can't figure out what the author's opinion is in the piece, then it's a failure of comprehension not writing.

Offering advice like adding prepositions like "It is my opinion" or "My conclusion is thus" is rediculous and only demonstrates your lack of knowledge. In any university class they would NEVER tell you add such nonsense. Succinctness is the hallmark of good writing, we know what the author's opinion is because HE'S WRITING THE PIECE, we do not need him to make that explicit.

JW clearly stated the 'facts' in the piece; Thor is a scoring well in a good league, he's scoring at EVs, he's defensively responsible etc etc.

His opinion is also VERY clearly stated; someone should think about giving him another chance in the NHL.

You are the one that cannot distinguish between the two, so please keep your tips to yourself as it's clear that you don't know what you're talking about.

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#111 Bar Qu
February 08 2011, 12:27PM
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Guy states an opinion on ON.

ON blows up because they have issues with something he said 2 weeks ago, and not with anything he just said.

ON then goes on to protest how wonderful a site it is for discussion and ideas. And how it is not simply a frat-boy waste of time.

Riiight.

For the record - any team in the NHL would improve with Thoresen on its roster.

Any. Team.

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#112 Dennis
February 08 2011, 12:46PM
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what a garbage post by JW.

I don't think the Oilers brass needs to be looking outside of North America for players that might be able to help them win.

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#113 Ender
February 08 2011, 02:22PM
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Dennis wrote:

what a garbage post by JW.

I don't think the Oilers brass needs to be looking outside of North America for players that might be able to help them win.

You forgot your tildes. I hope.

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#114 David S
February 08 2011, 04:33PM
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Hold on a minute!

This site isn't a frat-boy waste of time?

DAMMIT! Now you tell me.

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