Paajarvi-Svensson turns heads

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:28 PM ET

EDMONTON - Normally an NHL general manager heads over to the IIHF World Hockey Championships to watch early tournament games. That's when all the nations are competing and you can scout three games a day.

The GMs who show up late are usually the ones there more hoping to sign somebody than see somebody.

That would seem to be the case with Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson.

One thing's for sure, if Paajarvi-Svensson thinks the Oilers are spending all their time thinking about the Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin debate or about how good Jordan Eberle will be and forgetting about him, having Tambellini show up to see him says otherwise.

There's been so much talk, of course, about Taylor vs Tyler for this year's No. 1 pick in the draft. And there's been so much focus on Eberle, the first round selection of two years ago who is a member of Team Canada at the Worlds. It's easy for people forget about last year's first round selection Paajarvi-Svensson.

Tambellini is spending significant quantity time and quality time focusing on the six-foot-one 201-pound left winger.

Just back from the Globen Cup, a.k.a. the Swedish Games, which on Olympic years is held in the spring instead of February, Tambellini is going to check out Hall for one last look at the Memorial Cup and then head back overseas to Germany where Paajarvi-Svensson is playing for Sweden at the Worlds.

He played so well in the Sweden Games he made the national team for the world championships, said Tambellini of the 20-year-old player the Oilers took with their 10th pick last year.

He's had a great year, said Tambellini of the young man who was a standout, along with Eberle, Hall and Oilers second round draft choice Anton Lander at the World Juniors in Saskatoon.

Paajarvi-Svensson and Lander later took underdog Timra to a playoff spot and a first round win in the Swedish Elite League.

He really showed his high-end speed and played against Sergei Fedorov and a lot of Russian NHLers in that tournament (Sweden Games). His play resulted in his making the world championship team. He really showed he could handle himself well.

While a look at Paajarvi-Svensson in the World Championships would go further, with every look Tambellini is becoming more and more convinced the player who leads Sweden in scoring with two goals and two assists after the first three games at the Worlds, is ready to play in the NHL.

He's a good player. I think he's close.

He's had two and a half years in the Swedish Elite League. He moved to Timra when he was 16 and has been living alone, not as a billet. His life skills and maturity are well ahead of the game.

I had a chance to sit down with him and really get to know him. I talked to his dad, too. He's an agent. One of his players is Henrik Zetterberg. But while he's representing Magnus on this one, too, he said he's more the father in this one than the agent. I told him I could relate to him on that, said Tambellini, whose son Jeff plays for the New York Islanders.

Tambellini said they talked about just about everything but contract.

I can't talk to him about that until the world championships are over. I just told him not even to think about where he's playing next year and just go out and win the respect of Bengt-Ake Gustafsson, he said of Sweden's national coach.

Swedish players are often convinced to stay in the Elite League for an extra two or three years and develop further through the national team and before the World Juniors the Oilers would probably have even recommended that.

If that's his choice, we'd be fine with that, said Tambellini.

But it sounds like the Oilers GM will be headed to Germany with a contract in his pocket, probably even one for second round pick Lander, too.

I like him. I'd like to get him done, too, said Tambellini of the player who isn't at the tournament with Paajarvi-Svensson and already-signed Oilers prospect Linus Omark (two assists so far at the Worlds).

And what about Seguin and Hall?

I just finished meeting with both of them individually, just to get to know them, said the Oilers GM.

When Tambellini gets back from the Worlds, the entire scouting staff will meet in Kelowna to put together their final draft lists and make the big decision on Hall or Seguin. But you get the idea that right now Paajarvi-Svensson is the priority.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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