Should the Leafs Claim Magnus Paajarvi?

It’s not everyday that a former top ten draft pick hits waivers, so Paajarvi’s second ride on the waiver wire is certainly noteworthy (He cleared last December). The 24 year old 6’3 Swedish winger has had his challenges, he struggled on a bad Oilers team, and he hasn’t been able to earn a place in a very deep Blues top nine forward group, though to be fair, he’s been leapfrogged a number of times.

The Leafs on the other hand aren’t exactly short on forwards who are huge question marks, and at this point there’s no reason to believe that Paajarvi simply needs a change of scenery, so is it a good idea to claim him? I’m going to make the argument that yes they should.

The case for Paajarvi begins with the fact that the Leafs forward group has struggled mightily so far through training camp. 

preseasonstats

via NHL.com

Leafs regulars like Bozak, Komarov, Matthias and Panik have all been held pointless in their combined 10 games. Further to that, Bozak, Komarov, Arcobello, and Hyman have not been able to exceed 1 SOG/gm in the preseason.

While the preseason isn’t the best predictor of future results, it isn’t such a deep group that adding someone else to challenge them isn’t a bad idea.

The fact that Paajarvi only earns $700k and is on a contract that is expiring this season he’s not a huge commitment beyond taking up one of the remaining few players contracts. If he doesn’t work out, he’s either:

A) Going to be claimed on waivers and nothing has really been gained or lost

B) He’ll make it to the Marlies and his contract wouldn’t impact the salary cap. He’d also be beneficial to the Marlies as a nearly point per game player in the AHL who can play in any situation. 

mpsstats

via Eliteprospects.com

mpswaronice

via War-On-Ice.com

The numbers story on Paajarvi is really that he’s not particularly a standout. He’s been heavily sheltered in the past two years as a member of the Blues, and has the numbers that you’d expect a sheltered player on a strong possession to have. Given his situation, and his linemates it seems likely that his Points per 60 would improve away from enforcer linemates and away from a conservative Ken Hitchcock system, but again, it’s all about taking a chance on Paajarvi.

Right down to age Panik and Paajarvi synch up. It’s not really that Paajarvi is anything special, it’s just that he’s the same kind of lottery ticket that Panik was last season, and well worth the low risk move. If you’re bringing him in, are you heart broken about waiving Spaling or Panik to take a chance? (Waiving Lupul seems even better to me, but that’s another post.) 

From Jonathan Willis on Paajarvi when he was waived last December:

“Paajarvi has virtually all the tools that NHL teams look for in a defensive specialist. He skates like the wind, meaning he can get back in a hurry when the situation calls for it, and he can recover from a mistake that would doom a slower player. He’s listed at 6’3”, 208 pounds, which means he has above-average size for an NHL forward; not only can he get to where he needs to go in a hurry, but it’s also difficult to overpower him physically.

Even more importantly, he’s committed to a defensive game. It’s a commitment that has almost certainly cost him points over his career and has at times lessened his effectiveness overall as a player, but in the right role, that commitment can be awfully useful.”

The fact that Paajarvi has a well rounded aspect to his game lessens the risk even further and gives the Leafs another potential penalty killer. The combination of speed and size is something that the Leafs could use more of, and Magnus could establish himself as a cheap option for the further as well.

While I won’t be heartbroken at 12PM Thursday when Paajarvi is not a Leaf, I hope he at least receives some consideration. This isn’t a team that is very good and this seems to be a nice low risk, moderate reward kind of move. Potentially there are even better options yet to come on waivers, potentially the organization is committed to the lineup it has and has no interesting spending contracts on longshots, but definitely this team shouldn’t be above weighing the options on someone who has the natural talent to achieve, but so far has struggled to do so.

Plus Babcock likes Swedes.

  • CMpuck

    Pick him us and trade for B.Schenn and put him on a line with Kadri, three top ten picks from the same draft, rebuild complete. Then trade Nylander and Rielly for Tarasenko.

  • giproc

    Magnus Paajarvi is on waivers. age 24 // 6 ft 3 in
    the youngest player ever to play for Sweden during a World Junior Hockey Championship // in the 2010 World Championships, he led the senior Swedish team in scoring, and on the tournament all-star team
    2010-11 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 15 19 34
    WC: 18 7 9 16 /WJC-20: 18 6 13 19 /WJC-18: 12 8 9 17
    “Pääjärvi is a very speedy and skilled winger. His acceleration is top notch and what really characterizes his game is the way he drives to the net. In full speed, he gets around the opposing defenseman with ease and usually gets the puck on the net with a quick wrist-shot. Offensively, he is also blessed with above average hockey sense,
    nice technical skills and the ability to set up his teammates with passes. He is a creative player with smarts that usually scores quite spectacular goals
    and does things that are hard for the defensemen to read.
    He is in fact a quite capable two-way player that also battles for the puck and takes care of his responsibilities”

  • giproc

    Sure, another under-performer won’t hurt. No long term, low salary, maybe he will feel comfortable with all of the Leaf/Marlie Swedish players.

    Babcock loves speed, and Paajarvi certainly has more of it than most of the Leafs’ roster. Pity he doesn’t possess more grit and finish, but as is he’ll fit right in.

    After seeing how Grabner seems to be damaged goods and has definitely lost a step, maybe Paajarvi is a better option. He’s certainly younger and cheaper.

    Butif the Leafs claim him, would they lose their high waver priority for the next cuts that surface on the waiver wire? (ala Fantasy leagues?)