The most obvious signs that the Edmonton Oilers are deep in pro forwards are the young men in OKC. Among them are Linus Omark (injured and inelgible for the top 20) and five members of the Winter top 20. Teemu Hartikainen is the top ranked forward from the minors, and I doubt he spends much longer in the AHL.
Teemu Hartikainen impressed Oiler fans during a cup of coffee with the big club late last season. He arrived at training camp in the fall blocked by several summer acquisitions (notably Ryan Smyth) and ended up being a late cut from training camp. In OKC so far, there’s been plenty of coverage about a healthy scratch, but digging a little deeper shows some very nice things for our latest Finn phenom:
- 4 powerplay goals already have him tied for 2nd on the team and tied for 12th in the entire AHL.
- 60 shots on goal in 19 games is a solid total, in the league’s top 20.
- This from a player who traditionally begins slowly.
- Hartikainen is not in today’s OKC lineup. He was injured early in the 2nd period last night when he was tripped and slid awkwardly across the ice into the boards. He never returned to the game and is out with a shoulder injury. He might be in Edmonton tomorrow as a callup if not for the injury.
- Hartikainen on Hartikainen: “Last weekend our head coach Todd Nelson benched me because of a bad game I played previously. I have to admit that it felt pretty effin’ bad to hear just before the match that I’ve been benched for one weaker game. But it is what it is. Of course I had a discussion with our coach where we went through the elements of our game plan and personal expectations that weren’t met. While I don’t agree with getting benched, I do think our coach has a point here. I got a relaxing day off after tough start. I’ve had a good few days to think and concentrate and I surely won’t let this happen again. This has improved me mentally in the long run.”
- Hartikainen on what he has to do in order to become an NHL regular: “Just play a simple game. Tip the puck and hone my skills a little more so when I go back there I’m not coming back (down here) anymore,” he said. “They told me when they call me up they want me to be a top-six forward, score the goals here, get some points and be one of the leaders.”
- Todd Nelson on Hartikainen’s progress: “It’s coming alright. Play (well) away from the puck, stopping and starting, managing the puck. Those are the biggest things for Harti that he has to work on. When he got sent down he was disappointed. It took him a few days to get over it but he’s better now. He’s here, he’s working hard, he’s having fun and he’s only going to get better and better.”
Hartikainen is on pace for 30+ goals this season. My guess is he doesn’t make it (injury aside). I expect he’ll spend at least a portion of the 11-12 season in Edmonton, and this time when he gets here Teemu Hartikainen will be an Oiler to stay.
- 10-11 OKC 66, 17-25-42 .64
- 11-12 OKC 19, 8-5-13 .68