The Tikk

We talked awhile ago about “the Huddy” and the need for the team to acquire useful defensemen who could play a specific role.

Earlier today we discussed the Oilers forwards and specifically the 10 or so who should be around through 2020 (or so). Mostly average in size, but quite skilled and young enough to have a nice run before their 30th birthday (Oilers are likely to lose at least some of these young men via free agency 2017+).

They have skill, they have speed and the potential for goals is obvious. One area the Oilers might have a weakness? The Tikkanen.

If you don’t remember Tikkanen, allow me to fill you in via the newspapers of the time. In dealing for the Finn, Rangers GM Neil Smith did a splendid job in describing the acquisition:

“A dependable defensive player who (was gritty and feisty) and who could contribute offensively.” Smith was acquiring a veteran player, someone with over 500 NHL games experience. The Oilers need to find a “Tikkanen” who can mature alongside the Hall’s and RNH’s and Gagner’s and Eberle’s.

Is that player on the roster or in the system? As an NHL rookie (age 20), Tikkanen scored 7-6-13 in 35 games and took 28PIMS (that number would increase quickly). At age 21, he began an impressive 5-season run that included point totals of 78, 74, 78, 63 and 69 points. The Oilers would win 3 Stanley’s in those 5 seasons and Tikkanen was a big part of the hockey team during his time in Edmonton.

Back to the question: DO the Oilers have a dependable defensive player–with grit and an edge–who can contribute offensively?”

  • Taylor Hall should be a better offensive player and does have an edge, but projected him as a dependable defensive player is a stretch. He’s going to be driving the results more than preventing them (if everything goes according to Hoyle).
  • Jordan Eberle has a complete skill set save for size and an abundance of grit. I’d bet on him being a captain one day and that he could supply quality two-way play, but he isn’t going to play with a Tikkanen edge.
  • Magnus Paajarvi has the physical tools to be a beast physically but doesn’t appear to have that gear. I also wonder if he’s going to be an offensive player of the same calibre of Hall and Eberle, and Tikkenan had very good offensive seasons.
  • Teemu Hartikainen: I think he might be able to handle the physical side of the game (this isn’t really fair, Tikkanen was the ultimate ass on the ice–we can’t hope to see it twice in a lifetime) and be a pest. He also has offensive ability, so Hartikainen might be an option for the Tikkanen family (with fewer points).
  • Curtis Hamilton: Too soon to tell if he’s going to bring his offense with him to pro hockey, and he’s a 2-way winger. I don’t think he’ll ever be reckless enough to resemble Tikkanen, who at time acted truly crazy.
  • Tyler Pitlick: I think he might have the physical tools to be an agitator. Redline’s draft report: Flashed the ability to power through defenders to get to net. High energy level every shift. Can gain separation in corners with sharp twists and can turn on a dime. Patient playmaker. Long-limbed with farmboy like strength. Aggressive and finishes checks.”

We have to agree that expecting a combination of Tikkanen’s offense and Tikkanen’s offputting style is way too much to ask. I think Teemu Hartikainen will get a chance to be the physical winger on a skill ling beginning sometime in 11-12, and Tyler Pitlick is a player of interest to this family of forwards.

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