The "Big 3" played their first game together as Edmonton Oilers today against the Vancouver Canucks rookies and led the way to a 4-1 victory. Oilers fans were excited to see them play together as they had not seen much of them outside the World Junior Championships.
Most Oilers fans were expecting to see the Taylor Hall show, as he is the reigning first overall pick and back to back Memorial Cup MVP. But today was actually the Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson show, with two goals.
Paajarvi-Svensson hasn't gotten quite as much hype as Jordan Eberle or Hall, who both played for Canada in the World Juniors, which is expected, since no one has really seen much of Paajarvi-Svensson as he plays for Timra in the Swedish Elite League which doesn't get as much attention here in Canada. Expectations have been high for Eberle, since his heroics for Canada at the World Juniors the last two years, and Hall, but Magnus has been somewhat in the background.
But that changed today, as Paajarvi-Svensson made the fans take notice of him with two goals, both quite spectacular. The first, he grabbed a loose puck off the rebound in the crease and slid it home with two Canucks defenders on him, and the second, a laser wrist shot from the top of the circle. Even when he wasn't scoring, you always knew when Paajarvi-Svensson was on the ice. He looked like a man among boys today, and that may be due to the fact that he has been playing with men in Sweden since he was sixteen years old, while most NHL prospects play against their peers. While his point totals may seem low, with a career-best 29 points in 49 games last season, they are in the same range as players such as Niklas Backstrom, Anze Kopitar, Peter Forsberg and Markus Naslund at the same age. This, one would think, would increase the amount of hype surrounding Paajarvi, but there are still doubts about his finishing ability, as there were when he dropped to the Oiler's at 10th overall in 2009, when he had been ranked in the top 5 entering the year. There was also talk that while that could be an advantage for him, the change to a smaller ice surface here in North America could make the adjustment a little more difficult for him.
But I don't think anyone is doubting Magnus anymore.