The draft day words of Redline Report still ring: “good size and strength, his feet are fairly heavy.” That’s a pretty big problem to overcome for a prospect, but Hartikainen is building a pretty nice resume.
He’s 6.01, 198 according to the Oilers website, making Hartikainen one of the bigger forwards at the top end of Edmonton’s prospect list. He plays a gritty game and displays a willingness to go to the net. Offensively, he looks like he’ll score enough to move up the minor league system (he’ll be 20 next year) but his current numbers (23gp, 3-10-13) look just average when run through Desjardins (82gp, 6-19-25) NHLE.
Kevin Prendergast: “He comes to play. He competes. He’s got pretty good hands but his skating needs to improve a bit. He’s like a poor man’s Thomas Holmstrom in that he competes all over the ice.”
Thomas Holmstrom? In Holmstrom’s 19-year old season he played in the Swe-2 league, scoring 17-15-32 in 32 games. I have no idea how to compare the two players except to say that based on draft pedigree it’s likely wise to trash Holmstrom as a comp because of his unlikely career progression.
Hartikainen remains an interesting prospect and I think we can get an idea about him by following his career progression in Finland’s highest league.
- (Age 17) 1gp, 0-0-0 (.000)
- (Age 18) 51gp, 17-6-23 (.451)
- (Age 19) 24gp, 3-10-13 (.542)
Hartikainen was the SM-LIIGA Rookie of the Year and had the most goals by a rookie last season. This year the goals aren’t coming as quickly but then again he’s still a big part of his team’s offense (looks like 2nd line, Sami Kapanen was the big scorer a year ago for his team and is off his pace).
I don’t see an obvious Finnish comparable to Hartikainen. He has good size and appears to be gritty enough but the skating appears to be an issue. When Prendergast is saying that something needs improvement then we’ve got trouble in River City. The one thing that is a huge positive in this area is the fact the kid is working on it. Quoting Hartikainen: “I am training on that (skating) a lot. Steve Serdachny gave me a lot of skating drills over the summer. I now have a great opportunity to work on my skating.”
Based on where he was drafted Hartikainen should be ranked lower than this and when he comes to North America next year we could be disappointed. However, he does have talent and gives effort and I’m not betting against him improving his feet of clay.