SUN Hockey Pool

Paajarvi in for Penner

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:02 PM ET

Magnus Paajarvi will get the first chance to step into Dustin Penner’s old skates.

The latest step in the Oilers rebuild will see the Swedish winger moving up to the top line with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff tonight against the Nashville Predators, filling the space that belonged to Penner for the better part of four years.

“He has to make the best of it,” said head coach Tom Renney. “He has to make sure that he’s an impact player for us under those circumstances. He’s shown an ability to do that, we’re hoping he can pull it off tonight and beyond.”

This is what the Oilers are talking about when they talk rebuild - the young players stepping up and taking this team over. It’s one thing to say it when there’s a security blanket like Penner around, quite another when he’s gone and it’s all up to you.

Is Paajarvi ready?

“I believe so, I have to believe so,” he said. “I don’t know about replacing him. He’s a big guy who used his body a lot. I think I try to use my speed a little bit more. We’ll see how iot goes, but I’m excited to play with Hemsky and Horcoff, for sure.”

The move that sent Penner to Los Angeles for two draft picks and a prospect defenceman won’t pay dividends for years, which won’t do Edmonton much good in the here and now.

But the show must go on.

“We’re going to miss his size and miss his ability to protect the puck, get body position, be at the net,” said Renney. “He learned how to play both sides and was starting to play some centre, he became a good penalty killer for us.”

“But that’s the dynamic of the game. Rosters change. Whether it’s year one of the rebuild or it’s the third year in and you’re starting to look seriously at being a contender, it doesn’t matter - we have 19 games to left to go and we want to make sure every one of them means something, that we come away better for it.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/TYCHKOWSKI


Videos

Photos