#17 Prospect: Teemu Hartikainen

Winter 2009: #9
Summer 2010: #13

Winter 2010: #17

Although it loooks like Teemu Hartikainen is going the wrong way, he is in fact progressing nicely. The young man leads AHL rookies in powerplay goals and his role is increasing as the season rolls along.

Redline Report: Hartikainen has good size/strength, but his feet are fairly heavy.

International Scouting Services: Real warrior who hates to lose. Great work ethic, loves to play a physical style and when he’s on he’s unstoppable. Has a habit of taking bad penalties. Does not have a lot of offensive flair but does have the skill set to be a reliable defensive center at the next level.

Hartikainen was a pretty famous prospect despite not having a draft pedigree. Good size (6.01, 200), the big Finn gained a reputation for playing a gritty style and scoring goals, as well as being a no-brainer for inclusion on his nation’s teams (the ones he was eligible for) in the big tournaments. Finland is a quality hockey country, so Hartikainen making the WJ team each season is no small matter. His ability to stand in front of the net and score goals from the slot became something of a caling card, with comparisons to Tomas Holmstrom commonplace.

Most Oiler fans have a fondness for Finns. The reasons are obvious: from Jari Kurri and Esa Tikkanen to Janne Niinimaa to Jussi Markkanen and now Hartikainen, some splendid talents from that country have worn the copper and blue. Finland also seems to be made up of fun-loving, alcohol-drinking party people, which fits in well with Canadian hockey fans. Peas in a pod, that kind of deal.

There’s also a work ethic most of the Oilers Finns have displayed over the years (Niinimaki aside and even he is pulling a career out of his butt in the SM-Liiga as we speak). Hartikainen is no different, the year after he was drafted Steve Serdachny gave him drills designed to improve his skating and he’s come a long way from 2008 fall. Oiler fans who follow prospects closely well know that isn’t always the case when it comes to a prospect working hard on an area that needs improvement.

The Oilers are crazy with prospects at some positions. Not long ago, LW was an area of weakness. Now? Taylor Hall, Magnus Pääjärvi, Linus Omark and Curtis Hamilton give the club a completely different look and getting playing time with that depth chart might be a challenge for anyone.

Hartikainen’s skills also involve a specific kind of offense: the powerplay. Here are his numbers at the AHL level currently:

  • EVS: 27gp, 2-5-7 (.259) -11
  • PP: 27gp, 5-0-5 (.185)

So when we’re evaluating Hartikainen’s play and project him to the next level, we need to be aware that he may not get the kind of PP minutes when he’s in the NHL. I will say that his skill in this area (block out the sun F) is unique among the Oilers kids and that bodes well for him.

A couple of things: That plus minus number isn’t strong, but the young man is 20 and adjusting to pro hockey. The AHL is a tough damn league and the trail of lost souls who were unable to make it to the NHL is a long one. Also, Hartikainen has done the one thing prospects need to do in order to make it to the next level: show a measurable skill that can be useful to an NHL coach (tough to move from in front of the net =PP goals). That skill is also transferable (he can dominate in the corners and really in any physical battle should be able to have an impact on the result).

Hartikainen is in a 31st place tie for rooking scoring in the AHL, but Desjardins’ NHLE’s suggest there’s a player there. Should the young Finn catch on and play legit PP minutes he will post offensive numbers. Here are his NHLE’s:

  • 08-09 (18) (SML) 15-5-20
  • 09-10 (19) (SML) 12-14-26
  • 10-11 (20) (AHL) 10-6-16

Here are some other 20-year old Desjardins’ numbers for Oilers AHL prospects over the years:

  • Schremp (06-07) 9-19-28
  • Pouliot (05-06) 9-17-26
  • Jacques (05-06) 14-11-25
  • Trukhno (07-08) 8-12-20
  • Hartikainen (10-11) 10-6-16
  • O’Marra (07-08) 2-9-11

Hartikainen’s playing time will increase with the recall of Omark and O’Marra, so his boxcars should also see a jump. It’s early, his past NHLE’s have been a little more promising but Desjardins’ method has always suggested this player may be a little shy offensively.

I’m content placing Hartikainen at the top of the group that has some legit flaws that could keep them from becoming NHL players. The difference between his draft day and now is that the weakness then (speed) is no longer the main concern (his bat). I’d be shocked if he didn’t get a long look at the NHL level at some point during his entry level contract, but would also be surprised if he negotiates past all of the other PP options to become a useful NHL crease crasher.

All of this comes with a giant asterisk: this young man is 20+ games into his AHL career. The chances of the back half of his season being superior are very strong. Still, this is the information available, and at this point he’s slotted just outside the group with a really good chance to have an NHL career. No shame in that, this is a damn good list.

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