The St. Louis Blues are as deep at the forward position as any team in the NHL and Magnus Paajarvi has been making an impact, creating a welcome conundrum for Ken Hitchcock and company when it comes to making out the daily line-up. The young Swede brings size, speed, and scoring to whichever line he’s skating with. Chosen 10th overall in the First Round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Magnus Paajarvi came to St. Louis this past off-season in a trade for forward David Perron. Many graded Edmonton higher on the deal because of Perron’s proven (though streaky) scoring ability, but Paajarvi flashed brilliance in his rookie season and the more ice-time he gets the better he’s becoming.
Magnus played nearly every game (80) his rookie season with the Oilers and netted an impressive 34 points (15G, 19A) averaging about 15 minutes of ice per game. A slow start to his Sophomore season led to disenchantment from the Edmonton brass and he was sent down to Oklahoma City of the AHL. Where in 72 games he only managed 11 goals, but still showed promise, getting involved with 34 assists.
Mags came back to the NHL once the lockout ended for 2012-13 but spent less time skating and couldn’t match the excitement of his breakout in 2010-11, leading to his trade to the Blues last Summer. In 41 games this season with St. Louis he’s got 10 points (6G, 4A) and is averaging just over 10 minutes of ice-time per game, including the game winner, his first in the NHL, last night against one tough customer in Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.
Magnus Paajarvi’s best asset is his speed and acceleration, which he obviously showed off in scoring that goal. It’s also given him a niche to play in with the Blues, as his speed and his developing hockey sense are turning him into an excellent two-way player, the kind of skater Hitch requires his guys to be. He’s aggressive on the forecheck and rarely fails to help out in his own zone, digging pucks out of the corners and getting up the ice quickly.Because of his size, Magnus looks comfortable playing in front of the net and I think we’ll see him score 10 goals this season if he gets the playing time down the stretch. It’s a tough task to break into this line-up but Coach Hitchcock has a knack for finding the right place for the right guys and under his tutelage Mags is going to quickly become a fan favorite. At only 22 years of age he’s already got the size (6’3″, 200lbs) of the proto-typical NHL forward and St. Louis will get to see him blossom.
Playing on the high-energy lines seems to be a great fit for him so far, and this Blues team has been gelling all season long, despite a number of moving parts due to early injuries. Magnus Paajarvi should play an important role as St. Louis steams into the playoffs.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!