The Norwegian team isn’t blessed with an overabundance of talent, at least in comparison to the other countries represented at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but one of the legitimate players they have is Patrick Thoresen, a versatile and diminutive forward who has played all over Europe and has just over 100 NHL games split between Philadelphia and Edmonton.
I watched the majority of Thoresen’s NHL career in Edmonton, and despite the fact that he always seemed snake-bitten offensively, it was impossible not to cheer for him. He was undersized but had no difficulties playing a physical game; he fore-checked effectively and didn’t give an inch in puck battles. He played in all situations and was effective on the penalty kill.
As the reader might expect, he was also incredibly reliable in his own end. The 2006-07 Oilers were a miserable squad; not nearly as bad as the current group but still one of the worst teams in the league. Of the 15 forwards who played 25 or more games, seven finished in double-digit negatives in plus/minus. Of the players who finished the year (Edmonton collapsed down the stretch) not one finished with a positive plus/minus. With this as a backdrop, Thoresen’s minus-1 was a remarkable accomplishment.
Thoresen’s had a fairly impressive year in that department over in the KHL too – his plus-39 leads the league (just ahead of line-mate Alexander Radulov). He’s had a fairly impressive offensive season too; with 52 points in 52 games Thoresen finds himself ranked seventh in the KHL in scoring, just ahead of ex-Red Wing Jiri Hudler. This comes on the heels of a year in Switzerland, where Thoresen ranked third in the league in points.
None of that success in Europe means that Thoresen would light up the NHL if he came back; after all, he was a pretty good player in the Swedish Elite League before Edmonton brought him over, but it does show significant offensive development since Thoresen’s last NHL stint. He was already a phenomenal defensive player; if he could add enough offence to chip in between 30 and 40 points a season, he could have a very nice career as a third-line forward.
It would take a one-way contract to bring him back, in all likelihood; Thoresen returned to Europe after the Philadelphia Flyers declined to offer him one. Given that it won’t take much money to make it happen, that’s probably a good risk for a few different NHL teams.