Oil rookie in Swede position

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:36 PM ET

The Calgary Flames had best be warned — Magnus Paajarvi knows how to make a first impression.

Paajarvi, one-third of the Edmonton Oilers trio of future standouts, is slated to make his NHL regular-season debut when the Oilers play host to the Flames Thursday night to kick off the 2010-11 season.

He’d love nothing more than to duplicate his pre-season debut, when he scored three goals in a four-point effort during a 5-2 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I’ve never seen hats coming out of the crowd before — that was pretty awesome. It was a great experience,” Paajarvi said. “It was a cool experience. I’m gonna remember that for a long time.”

A fuss has been made about the Oilers’ three youngsters making the jump to the pro ranks. Taylor Hall, the Calgary kid chosen first in this year’s draft, has certainly garnered the most headlines, while Jordan Eberle’s heroics for Canada at the past couple of world junior tournaments has made him a headliner.

However, Paajarvi may be the most ready to have an impact this season. Although only 19, he’s spent the last three seasons with Timra in Sweden’s top league and was a force at the most recent world championships.

“He’ll be a candidate for the Calder Trophy — he’s a good player,” said Flames rookie centre Mikael Backlund, who was a teammate of Paajarvi’s at a couple of world junior tournaments. “He was probably our best player at the world championship. We’ll have to look out for him.”

Yet, Paajarvi has probably received the least fanfare of the Oilers rookies.

“I don’t seek the spotlight, so I’m fine with it,” said the 6-foot-3, 200-lb. left winger. “I think it’s a great thing there are three of us. Taylor and Jordan get a lot of media, and it takes the pressure off.”

Of course, Paajarvi can give his insight on the Flames’ top rookie forward, Backlund.

“Oh, I know Mikael,” Paajarvi said with a wry grin. “He plays hard and has been doing well the last few years. I wish him all the luck.

“I’m excited to face him.”

He also faced new Flames backup goalie Henrik Karlsson last season, so he would be handy for a scouting report if needed.

“He’s a big guy, and he stops the pucks, so that’s a good combination,” Paajarvi said. “He was really, really good back home in Sweden and got a lot of respect for it.”

Yeah, but did he score on him?

“I don’t know,” Paajarvi added. “He’s probably robbed me a couple times.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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