Considering Patrick Thoresen

 

 

Most Flames fans probably remember Patrick Thoresen as a part-time grinder who played for the Oilers and Flyers a few years back. Other might recall he suffered a truly horrible injury blocking a shot in Philadelphia before fleeing the NHL for Europe. The truth is Thoresen was probably a better player than he appeared during his cup of coffee in the NHL and he’s established himself as one of the best players outside the league since he bolted.

Some background information on Thoresen is in order before we proceed. An undrafted native or Norway, Thoresen nevertheless scored 30-goals and 73-points as an 18-year old rookie in the QMJHL. He followed that up with a 33-goal 108-point season. Despite a couple of notable seasons, he failed to catch on in North America, so he returned to Europe and popped up in the Swedish Elite League. In his second season in the SEL, Thoresen scored 17 goals and 36 points in 50 games as a 21-year old, good for second best on on his team, Djurgardens.

The Oil signed him as a free agent after that year and he appeared in mostly a third/fourth line role for Edmonton, garnering four goals and 16 points in 68 games as a rookie. He also spent some time in the AHL where he managed 13 goals and 26 points in 29 games. The Flyers eventually plucked Thoresen off waivers in 2007-08, where he continued to be used as a bottom-six plugger 21 regular season games. He would flee for the Swiss league that off-season, where he managed a team high 63 points for Lugano.

He moved onto Ufa Salavat of the KHL after that and started putting up even more impressive totals in what is the second best hockey league in the world. In 2009-10, he played 56 games, scoring 57 points. He bested that number this past season, finishing with 29 goals and 65 points in just 54 games (1.20 PPG). That was good for second most in the KHL behind teammate Alexander Radulov, who garnered 80 (the Preds sure could use him hey?). Jaromir Jagr finished eighth in the league with 51 points, by the way.

It’s not just nice counting numbers in other leagues that make the 27-year old Norseman interesting. Thoresen actually had noteworthy underlying numbers during his brief stint in the NHL, despite playing in largely a support role. In 38 games between EDM and PHI back in 2007-08, Thoresen ended up with a relative corsi of +12.8/60. That is despite playing against a decent level of competition and a difficult offensive-to-defensive zone ratio of 45.2%. It’s not the biggest sample to work with, but those are strong numbers for a young player to manage in less than ideal situations. 

Of course, the reason he wasn’t all that hot a commodity after ’07-08 was a severe downturn in his offense, which is likely what convinced the league in general that Thoresen was probably out of his depth. The -10 rating probably didn’t help for a guy who was acquiring the "defensive specialist" tag. In truth, the percentages cratered on Thoresen that season: his one-ice SV% and SH% combined was 93.2 (!!), an extremely low number and one that was probably due entirely to variance given the low number of games played. A combination of a tough assignment and bad luck ended his NHL career just as Thoresen as becoming a useful player

Thorsen’s subsequent success elsewhere suggests he’s continued to improve since leaving. Aside from Jagr, other former NHLers he outscored in the KHL this season, were Alexei Morozov, Pavol Demitra, Joseph Vasicek and Mattias Weinhandl.

He is now 27-years old, so right at the peak of his abilities. As such, I think if the Flames are willing to look at less conventional avenues to improve the team going forward, they should consider gambling on Patrick Thoresen. He could be a cheap, but capable top-six option.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    This would be very unconvetional to say the least. Do any NHL team scouts look at 27 year olds in the KHL or the Swedish Elite league? Or do the zero in on younger talent. These leagues seem to have plenty of good players – why not look there for good an inexpensive help?

  • Karasu89

    I do not think that is the answer at all. how many players come from khl and actually do good here in their late 20s? i do not have any numbers but i cannot think of many. giordano played a year there and came back a better player but i cannot think of anyone else. let alone an european

    • The KHL is only a few years old. There aren’t going to be a lot of examples. All I know is, it’s the second best league in the world and Thoresen has put up better than average numbers there. In fact, he has in every league he’s ever played in besides the NHL.

  • jgl

    Nice bit of analysis! I think it would be a good idea to at least take a good look at him to see what kind of money it would take. Kent, would you know if he is under contract in the KHL? Is he looking for an NHL job or is this just speculation right now?

      • Vintage Flame

        Great find Kent! I totally forgot all about Thoresen. This would be interesting if the Flames could look into him.

        What would it take if he does have a contract with the KHL, to get him over here?

        Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t I read last week or something that the NHL has finally signed a transfer agreement with the Russian Federation? I assume that doesn’t apply to the KHL and only affect junior players being drafted, correct?

  • Vintage Flame

    Good article Kent, but I have to ask. Is this what the Flames have lowered themselves too? Looking for scraps from other leagues? I wish that they would give the young guys a chance this year. Throw them to the wolves. Then at the trade deadline you pick up young prospects and high end draft pick for guys like Iginla, Kipper, Sarich, ect ect. This team will have a boat load of money to throw around next off season and can maybe reload with a group of young hungry hockey players.

    • Vintage Flame

      We’d never get decent return for Sarich, and no one will take him on now that his contract is over at the end of next year plus he just isn’t worth that much. At least I think that’s when it runs out.

      I only see a use in trading Kipper unless Karlsson is ready to step up to #1, or if we can pull off a Varlamov deal, I’m fine with no second round, if we got a first, I would be crazy!!!!!

      Iggy is here to stay. If we didn’t get rid of him last season we won’t now specifically because we re-signed Tanguay.

    • Is this what the Flames have lowered themselves too? Looking for scraps from other leagues?

      Two things:

      1.) Looking for quality players via unconventional means isn’t “lowering yourself”. The Detroit Red Wings do this type of thing all the time. They signed undrafted Ville Leino out of the Finnish Elite League in 08 after he led the league in scoring. Good organizations shouldn’t consider unconventional methods of player procurement somehow beneath them.

      2.) Thoresen isn’t “scraps”. He’s been nothing but excellent everywhere he’s played. If you catch him in International play, you’ll notice he’s often one of the most noticeable players on the ice.

  • I’m not saying he likely wouldn’t be a great addition. However, I guess I’m just pissed that a move like this is what Flames fans like myself are considering “bis news”. We have no blue chip prospects that will be making an impact this year and I think this could be a long ugly season. Sarich playing as a top 4? Some nights last year it looked like he didn’t belong on the top 6/7. I’m just frustrated not knowing the direction of the club.

  • Hey Kent! Is this just the scouting personality trait coming out of you or is this a legit rumour the Flames are talking to this guy about coming back?
    Austin, as much as I agree there were times last year Sarich sat & wasnt dressed as a top 6, when he’s on, he’s a pretty solid Dman & with his Stanley Cup experience would make a helluva good rental player to a playoff bound team at the trade deadline. Dont laugh, but if Feaster plays his cards right, we could extract up to a 2nd rounder for him. Seriously!

    • Reidja

      If this is true, I would be one of the happiest men alive. I think he’s probably only good for a 3rd rounder… Then maybe we could use the two thirds to get back our second.

  • Vintage Flame

    Interesting find and I agree, no area should be left unturned in bettering a club.

    Definitely worth a training camp invite, but I have no idea how KHL contracts work – can he get out of one to play here?

    Also, at just 27 he’s still young enough to be part of a rebuild.

  • Reidja

    I like Thoresen enough when I have seen him play, but I just don’t see the fit here.

    The Flames have three legit top six wingers (Iginla, Tanguay, Bourque). You could argue whether they are good first line wingers, but there should be no argument they are top six wingers. Then they have a group of guys who are good third line wingers, a stretch to get into top six territory (Glencross, Moss, depending on which day Hagman). Then you have the decided fourth liners (Jackman, Kostopolous, Ivanans). Behind them should theoretically be a group of young’uns pushing up into the third line or top-six territory, but the jury is still out as to whether such a player exists.

    I don’t see how adding Thoresen, who is going to fit in the same group of “stretch” third line guys, is going to make the Flames stronger. The only way the Flames get better is if they sign/develop a legit top-six winger. Note that it does not necessarily have to be a big scorer, but someone who can play other teams first lines to at least even so that the Iginla line and the third line can chomp up lesser comp.

    At this point I would rather see if one of the young’uns can fill in on the third line role and maybe play himself into that top-six role before adding another replica set of skills to Glencross and Moss. I think that has more long term value than adding Thoresen.

    • RexLibris

      Flames have definately Iginla and Tanguay who play on the top line. That leaves four people to round out the top six. Jokinen, GlenX, Bourque, Langkow. Try putting Langkow between Iggy and Tanguay or give Backlund a shot at playing some top six minutes. I think it’s very unlikely the Flames will give Ivanans any minutes. I don’t think Hagman is a top six on the current Flames roster. Then you have Stajan Hagman Moss Kostopoulos Jackamn Backlund for the bottom six. The only people I feel comfortable about Backlund playing around is Moss/Kostopoulous/Jackamn.

      • everton fc

        Is Ivanans even cleared to play? He’ll never suit up again in the NHL, me thinks…

        Thoresen’s worth a punt, but we are pretty deep at left wing, are we not? Bourque… Glencross…

        Could he play right wing? He is still young, but at 28…

        (If you have cap room when all is said and done and you can’t move him, does Stajan goes between Kosto and Jackman this season on the fourth line, at the expense of one of the kids, who stays in Abby?)

        • everton fc

          No he isn’t clear to play yet. Concussion symptoms still I think.

          Yes we’re pretty deep on the left wing but I think Bourque has been playing a little bit of time on the right.

          I doubt it he could learn to play right wing full time at this age. It’d take enough to get back into the NHL let alone learn a whole new position.

          I don’t think we’re going to see Hagman or Stajan buried this season unfortunately. That being said, I want Stajan and Hagman both playing on the fourth line, unless they show they’re ready for top 9 minutes again. I don’t want their incapability to mess up Backlnd’s future.

      • Bob Cobb

        My understanding of the numbers from last year (without digging them up so I stand to be corrected) was that Iginla + Tanguay + whomever beat up 2nd lines, but fell short against first lines. So while I don’t disagree that they are our top line, I don’t know that they are indisputably top line material.

        As an interesting thought experiment – on how many teams would you trade the top two forwards for Iginla and Tanguay? Just for next year to give you the best chance at the Cup – no salary cap – no potential for future development, just the most likely to be the best two players next year? I get the following:

        Anaheim – Getzlaf, Perry – nope
        Boston – Krejci, Savard? maybe Bergeron – probably
        Buffalo – Vanek, Boyes – yes
        Carolina – Staal, Skinner – probably
        Chicago – Toews, Kane – nope
        Colorado – Duchene, Stastny – yes
        Columbus – Nash, Carter – nope
        Dallas – Ribeiro, umm Morrow, Eriksson – either way yes
        Detroit – Datsyuk, Zetterberg – nope
        Edmonton – I don’t even know but – yes
        Florida – again, Weiss and … – yes
        Los Angeles – Kopitar, Richards – nope
        Minnesota – Koivu, Heatley/Havlat – probably not
        Montreal – Plekanec, Cammalleri – yes
        Nashville – Kostitsyn, Erat – yes
        New Jersey – Kovalchuk, Parise – nope
        NYI – Tavares and ? – yes
        NYR – Richards, Gaborik – close one but probably no
        Ottawa – Spezza, Alfredsson – yes
        Philadelphia – Giroux and Briere – yes
        Phoenix – Doan and Whitney? – yes
        Pittsburgh – Crosby and Malkin – nope
        San Jose – Thornton, Marleau – nope
        St. Louis – Stewart and … who cares – yes
        Tampa Bay – St. Louis, Stamkos – nope
        Toronto – Kessel, Connolly(Grabovski?) – yes
        Vancouver – Sedins (maybe Kesler) – either way no
        Washington – Ovechkin, Backstrom – nope
        Winnipeg – Ladd, …Wheeler? – yes

        • Bob Cobb

          Interesting analysis. Looks like Iggy/Tangs based on last year numbers were slightly better than 50% of the leagues top 2 tandem on top lines. Not enough to get you a Stanley cup but enough to keep you in a playoff race. So I guess what is the moral of the story? If we feel our top line is not capable of getting it done, where do we go from here, from a business point of view?
          My first conclusion is that we put Backlund on the top line this whole year and give him the minutes, powerplay, experience to supercharge his development to a top 6 player and not Langkow. Langkow is old(NHL style) and his contract is done the end of this year. He will either be sold as a rental player for an excellent price if he plays well on the 2nd line or otherwise very unlikely to be resigned after this year. The time of pampers for Backlund is done & we need him to step up this year or trade him as he will be RFA next year. What was your conclusion?

  • RexLibris

    Totally agree with Tach. Again, from an arm’s length perspective, because I don’t know all the details of the Flames performers outside their core, I’d say they have an abundance of bottom 6 guys that have filtered up into the top two lines. THN refers to them as having a “pop-gun” offense and when this is true is because they’re running mules in the place of horses. I watched Thoresen play up here with the Oilers and thought there was some promising things to his game in that he has some pucksense and plays hard for a smaller guy, and maybe his lack of production here was more a result of playing on a weak team but then if he came over he’d be in the same position. He wouldn’t have high-skill linemates like he may have had in the K. It’s a good depth move, but it addresses an area that is already crowded.

    Also, I’d argue that the SEL is at least on par with, if not perhaps better than the KHL. More players come out of the SEL ready to play in the NHL than the KHL, which is becoming an airplane graveyard for NHLers of late.

  • Bob Cobb

    Patrick Thoresen a top 6 forward, let me take a moment so I can catch my breath and stop laughing……… Seriously, if you combined Thoresen’s work ethic and try with Robert Nilssons skill and puck handling ability you would have a player. I liked Thoresen over Nilsson for that very reason, that said, Patrick Thoresen is a bottom 6 forward at best in the NHL and the fact he put up the points he did in the KHL shows just how much seperation there is in talent levels between the 2 leagues or maybe they are using shooter tutors as starting goaltenders.