THE TEAM TODAY: Total Recall
Oilers' injury woes hope to be cured with injection of skill from the farm
TOTAL RECALLEdmonton, AB - 25 days since he was assigned to the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons, Magnus Paajarvi arrived back in Edmonton this morning, donning the Oilers' copper and (baby) blue colours in a one-hour practice at Rexall Place.
No. 91 notched a goal and nine points, along with a solid +2 rating during his three-week stint in OKC, and was deserving of a call-up with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) and Jordan Eberle (knee) going down until the all-star break.
With the promise of getting quality minutes and tougher assignments in a scoring role upon his recall, Paajarvi was slotted alongside Anton Lander and Eric Belanger in Tuesday's practice; he also peppered a power-play unit, with Sam Gagner and Belanger on down low and on his opposite side.
"I embraced it," Paajarvi said, looking back at his ‘demotion' to the AHL. "I'm 20 years old and was watching from the press box. That doesn't do a lot. At the time it was the best thing to go down and play a lot, not think too much and get that rhythm back. I proved last year that I can play on the top lines and I played 80 games last year.
"The situation, at that point, was the best one."
Having only recorded three assists in 25 games this season, Paajarvi struggled to gain traction; both in the lineup and out, he wasn't receiving the ice-time that Head Coach Tom Renney wanted to distribute. With bodies on the IR, he'll get that chance now but is looking to keep it simple.
"I'm not going to go out there and try to do too much, but I still feel like I can do a whole lot more on the ice," Paajarvi said. "I can make plays. I went down to OKC and played a lot; and that's the main thing, to play lot."
"This kid really got it," added the bench boss. "When (GM) Steve (Tambellini) and I met with him, he was real good at understanding that this was a move for his career. He welcomed the opportunity to play more and play under unique circumstances and situations. That was a great starting point. When I chatted with him this morning, he's a happy kid and he's always smiling, and all you want to do is let him go play. And we know he can.
"The microcosm of our team growth could be looked at when you look at Magnus," Renney added. "We want to hit a home run, for sure, but maybe you've got to hit a home run in a little league park to know what it feels like before you swing for the fences at Yankee Stadium."
Joining the 20-year-old sophomore is Ryan O'Marra, who's on his second call-up of the season; he, too, will be looking to make an impact.
"It's the same thing each time," he explained. "You've got to come up here and know why you got called up. You've got to play your game. It's another opportunity to show that I can play in this league and, hopefully this time, I can stay a little while longer.
"The coaches have been saying that I need to shoot more the last couple years. I made a concerted effort to do that and I think that's been a huge factor in the increased offence, but it's been a lot of hard work.
"I don't think anyone is expecting me to come up here and be the next Nugent-Hopkins," O'Marra added with a chuckle.
THE IR SHUFFLE & MORE
Meanwhile, in the absence of Jordan Eberle (who collided with Dallas' Jamie Benn in Saturday's matinee) it was announced that No. 14 would miss 2-3 weeks with a minor knee sprain.
"It go extended with the extra push on the guy's skate, so my knee buckled a bit," Eberle explained. "I knew right away that something was wrong. In looking at the MRI yesterday, it's better than I expected."
"We all think and know that it could have been worse," Renney added. "We'll do the right things medically and stay prudent and to the letter in terms of his rehab, but this is a kid that we're maybe going to have to hold back a little bit. We'll do the right thing, but it's longer than we'd hoped for."
In other news stemming from the Oilers' sick bay, birthday boy Tom Gilbert (who turned 29 today) didn't have the happiest morning, announcing that he would be missing in action for up to a month with a sprained ankle/knee.
While No. 91 and 42 walked into Rexall Place at around 9am this morning, one was headed the other way. Gilbert Brule was recalled along with the others yesterday, but needed to clear re-entry waivers before donning Oilers silks once again. With a stick and gear bag in hand, the 25-year-old trotted up the rink's East Ramp en route to the desert.
"Not really, I wasn't surprised," Renney said regarding the Phoenix Coyotes' claim on Brule. "I'm disappointed, though, because I was excited to see Gilbert back in our lineup, and I like the fact that he's a right-hand shot. We lost Ebs (Jordan Eberle) and we could have used him on the power-play."
For a complete look at the current line combinations (there have been a lot of changes!) CLICK HERE.
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com - Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick