I’d say I’ve only been following the Oilers on a serious level for about the last 10 years, but I can’t remember the last time there were so many questions about this team going into the summer. I can’t think of one player aside from Hemsky who is a sure fire bet to be here in October, and so that leaves a lot of speculation. There are large holes to fill (specifically on the backend) and we all know you have to give up something to get something. Time to start deciding who stays and who goes. One of the players that has intrigued me is Patrick Thoresen (notice he's wearing the 'A' above). The Norwegian signed a two year contract last summer out of no where for about 500k and change a year. He is one of only five players from Norway to ever play in the NHL so that is an achievement in itself. He went undrafted which is a bit of a mystery to me. He’s smallish (5-10 185) so that may have contributed in the pre-CBA NHL but prior to entering the draft he put great numbers in the QMJHL (131gp 181 pts over 2 seasons), so we can’t say that he was underscouted. It was also claimed that he was too slow, which he clearly has improved upon. After being passed over in 2003 he decided to play in the SEL where he spent the next 3 seasons (only 3gp in his first) prior to coming here. In his last season with Djurgardens IF he put up 36 points in 50 games which was good enough for 10th in the league.

After signing with the Oilers, Thoresen came to camp as a bubble player that needed to impress to make the line up. And by all accounts he did more than that. He was vying for one of the last few spots with guys like Winchester and Pouliot and during preseason clearly put himself above them. After his 3rd preseason game MacTavish publicly stated that Thoresen had made the team saying “We haven't had that in a while, a player from Europe come in here and be as polished and complete and effective as he's been”. At this time he led the team in scoring with 4 pts in 3 games and had just scored a goal and an assist in a game against a veteran Calgary roster. He gave a lot of credit to playing in Sweden, “I have a lot of experience from playing against men the last three years. I think that puts me ahead of players who are coming from juniors" but was clearly ready to step into the NHL.

When the regular season finally kicked off Thoresen hit the ice skating, going 2-4-6 in his first 8 games, even having a three point game against Phoenix on October 23rd. But since then his production tailed off until it hit rock bottom, going 53 games between goals over the middle of the season. After his hot start he has ended up with only 15 points in 67 games, but even with this lack of production he has been sheltered from the criticism that almost every player has received, and continued to dress for most games. This is attributed to his ability to play a sound defensive game. On a team that is littered with atrocious +/- players Thoresen is a respectable -2. In another blog it was posted (here) that Thoresen is one of the top players affecting their team’s goals against average. He has a positive impact by not allowing goals scored on him and by being on the ice when goals are scored for his team. This must give credit to his defensive responsibility because he has not provided a lot of offence this season.

I think Thoresen is a very valuable asset that this team acquired, and his contributions often go unnoticed. Overall I enjoy the energy he brings to the line up to go along with good vision and an underrated/used passing ability. Look for him to adjust to a bad second half and have a great year next year playing 3rd line minutes. By this time next year resigning him will be a priority of this team. I think it’s fair to expect 15-25-40 +10 from him next year. No?


Anonymous said...

he is expendible!!

Rory said...

He looked polished in the exhibition season, many players often do, I think he was riding a short high with all the attention he was getting for starting so well, unfortunately he could not remain consistent, the speed and intensity of the game eventually got to him. I think he will stick around next year but will have to fight hard for a spot if the Oilers make the right moves this summer. One player that will probably be on the move: Jason Smith.

Jon G said...

Well I think that the main problem with Thor this year was MacT's Merry-Go-Round line combo's he was producing well with his linemates, so he gets moved up to the first line, tanks with that line and never goes back to the original combo. Instead gets linemates like Toby Petersen. Man do I ever hate rotating lines, doesnt work for chemistry in NHL 2006 why should it in real hockey

Anonymous said...

Thor is expendible!