2008-09: Iiro Pakarinen scored 12 goals with 10 assists and was +9 in 42 games (including playoffs) with KalPa (Kuopio) A Junior (U-20). Pakarinen also competed for Finland at the World Junior U-18 championships – scoring 1 goal with 1 assist in six games.
2009-10: Pakarinen split his season between KalPa’s SM-Liiga and A-Junior squads as well as competing for Finland at the U-19 and U-20 levels. In 38 regular season games as an SM-Liiga rookie, Pakarinen scored 3 goals with 5 assists and was +1 with 37 PMs averaging just over eight minutes of ice-time per game as KalPa finished second behind JyP. In 12 playoff games, he scored three goals and was +2 with 8 PMs as KalPa reached the Kanada Cup semifinals. In 11 KalPa U-20 games, he scored 8 goals with 4 assists and had 10 PMs. Pakarinen scored 1 goal with 1 assist in six games for Finland at the World Junior U-20 championships. He was ranked 63rd amongst European skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings but was not selected in the 2010 NHL Draft.
2010-11: Pakarinen assumed a full-time role in his second pro season in Kuopio; scoring 7 goals with 3 assists in 47 games while accumulating 34 PMs and averaging twelve minutes of ice-time per game. KalPa, after finishing fifth in the regular season, was defeated by Lukko in a seven-game quarterfinal playoff series. Pakarinen scored one goal in Game 2 of the series and finished -1 for the series. Pakarinen played four games with Kalpa’s A Junior team, scoring 3 goals with 2 assists and was also an assistant captain for Finland at the World Junior U-20 championships. In six games for Team Finland, he scored one goal with 2 assists and had 2 PMs. Pakarinen was ranked 81st amongst European skaters by Central Scouting and was selected by the Florida Panthers in the 7th round (184th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.
2011-12: Pakarinen provided both “sand paper” and timely goal scoring in a lower line role for Kalpa Kuopio in his third season in Finland’s SM-Liiga. Playing a career-high 54 games, he scored 10 goals with 3 assists and was minus-three with 47 penalty minutes. KalPa finished with the top regular season record but fell to eighth-place Espoo in the playoffs. Pakarinen scored 2 goals with 2 assists and was minus-two in the seven-game series. In April 2012 he signed a contract to play for HIFK in 2012-13.
2012-13: Pakarinen was limited to 33 regular season games due to injury during the SM-Liiga season in his first season with HIFK after signing a deal with the Helsinki club. He scored 5 goals with 7 assists and was -3 with 6 penalty minutes, averaging 13 minutes of ice time. HIFK was eighth in the regular season before taking a best-of-three series in the preliminary round and then falling in five games to Tappara Tampere in the playoffs. Pakarinen scored 3 goals with 4 penalty minutes and had an even plus/minus in six playoff games. He was not signed by the Panthers, becoming an unrestricted free agent.
2013-14: Pakarinen was an assistant captain and had a breakout season in his second season with HIFK and made his first appearances with the Finland men’s national team; competing in two of the four Europe Hockey Trophy weekends and skating for the silver medal-winning squad at the 2014 World Championship. He scored 20 goals with 10 assists and was -1 with 32 penalty minutes in 60 regular season games. In what was a tumultuous season, HIFK finished ninth in Liiga and was swept by Pelicans Lahti in a best-of-three preliminary series. Pakarinen had no points and 2 penalty minutes with an even plus/minus in the two-game series. He was -1 with 1 goal in six Europe Trophy games for Finland and was +8 with 3 goals and 2 penalty minutes in 10 games during the World Championship. Signed to an extension by HIFK in February, Pakarinen was signed by the Panthers to a two-year, entry-level contract as a free agent in June 2014.
Pakarinen plays like a demon in tight spots, and his stick handling ability and skating agility are first rate. Pakarinen prefers the physical elements of the game but has been a consistent scoring in Finland and in his first AHL season . Offensively, he has a hard, accurate shot which surprises goalies. While his physical style explains his pedestrian offensive numbers with the Oilers, that abrasiveness gained him both attention and notoriety at times during his junior career. He seems to have found a balance between playing a physical game and being undisciplined as he has matured as a pro.
Pakarinen attended his first NHL camp with Edmonton before being assigned to AHL affiliate Oklahoma City to start the 2014-15 season. Recalled by the Oilers in October, he made his NHL debut and saw limited action in a five-game stint before being returned to the AHL. Since being recalled in February he is seeing more consistent ice time. One of the leading scorers for the Barons when he was recalled, he has played more of a two-way role in Edmonton. History suggests he will contribute more scoring as he adapts to the NHL pace but at the minimum his abrasiveness and two-way play should complement some of the high-flyers in the Oilers forward group.