Magnus Paajarvi had a pretty rough 2013-14. He tallied six goals and six assists over the course of 55 games and missed significant time due to injuries. Heading into 2014-15, Paajarvi’s role with the Blues is mostly undefined due to the Blues bringing in additional depth up front. What’s in store for him this season?
For Paajarvi, it’s all going to come down to training camp. With Paul Stastny, Joakim Lindstrom and Jori Lehtera in the mix, the team’s offense is suddenly very crowded. Several players are going to have to head to the AHL and it’s unclear how Paajarvi fits into the team. He’ll have to prove he can contribute offensively and play a consistent, high-tempo game in order to secure a full-time role.
Does Paajarvi fit into the top-12? He’s not really a fourth-line player and the Blues already have Ryan Reaves, Max Lapierre and Steve Ott more or less penciled in to wear down opponents. Paajarvi could be injected to give the third or fourth line some speed, but he may get lost behind some of the new acquisitions. Where the Blues used him on the third line a bit last year, the club now has options with a bit more upside which deserve a shot on the third line first.
Here’s what Jeremy Rutherford thinks of the situation:
“Paajarvi does get lost in the shuffle. I’m not sure what to make of his chances heading into training camp. He’s going to be on the team. I’m saying, I don’t know how he will be used, and perhaps neither does Hitchcock right now. There’s a lot of bodies and with Lehtera and Lindstrom jumping in, those are two guys who probably have more offensive potential than Paajarvi. We’ve seen that he can fill a fourth-line line if needed, but to me, that’s not very ideal. I don’t think he’s AHL-bound, but we’ll have to see a lot from him in camp.”
Reading between the lines, it sounds like Paajarvi’s future with the Blues is in doubt. He’ll make $1.4 million with a cap hit of $1.2 million in 2014-15. That’s a pretty decent hit for a guy who may spend considerable time in the press box. Should the Blues send him down to the AHL, he’d have to pass through waivers. Assuming he clears, the Blues would then have a decently expensive player competing in the AHL with no clear route back to the NHL in front of him barring a wave of injuries.
At 23, Paajarvi is a player with room to grow. Unfortunately, there may not be a spot on the NHL roster for him to get the time he needs to move his game forward.