You can see the Oilers future on display every time they play. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and on it goes. A 220-pound Finn winger is trying to wiggle into the everyday lineup and said player has some nice things. Is there room? Who goes?
Teemu Hartikainen is 220 pounds of mad Finn, and as he showed last spring the young man can impact the game down low and in populated places. They used to call these guys “corner men” or “diggers” and it’s a valuable skill, especially on a team like the Edmonton Oilers.
Teemu’s position is LW, a slot that currently boasts Taylor Hall, Ryan Smyth, Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk and (in OKC) Magnus Paajarvi. Guys like Sam Gagner have played there too this season. Here’s the 5×5/60 numbers by LW this season for the Oilers:
- Ryan Smyth 2.55
- Taylor Hall 1.94
- Ben Eager 1.61
- Darcy Hordichuk 1.02
- Magnus Paajarvi 0.67
I could have included Ryan Jones in the group but am counting him as a RW in this discussion. Gagner counts as a center for our purposes.
In order for Hartikainen to find steady employment in the NHL next season–and his corner work suggests he can compete and offer the team a somewhat unique skill set–the young man will have to battle Paajarvi and Eager for playing time.
Paajarvi has draft pedigree and Eager has a signed contract, so something has to give. They could move Paajarvi to RW (or Hartikainen for that matter) but that crowds that position too. What does it mean? The summer could be spent deciding between Paajarvi and Hartikainen and Linus Omark can’t buy a thrill.
In a way it’s a nice problem to have, but you, me and Stu MacGregor have to hope that coach Tom Renney makes the wise choice.
This is Cliff Johnson. Houston drafted him in 1966, but didn’t become a regular in the majors for a decade. Why? Astros drafted him as a catcher and despite appearances (Cliff Johnson was a big man, and not quick or learned behind the plate) a catcher he would be. One year he hit 20 homer runs in fewer than 400 ab’s in the Astrodome (Grand Canyon) and they made him catch 41 games.
Houston had an incredible procurement department in those years, but the management was addled. Hell one year they gave 676 at bats to a guy who couldn’t hit one home run while Cliff Johnson watched his career go by.
Stu MacGregor and his staff have drafted these kids, but there’s also a lot of luck involved in the process. Teemu Hartikainen is one of the 12 best forwards on this team when everyone is healthy, and he offers some unique components.
Is he here to stay?
Nation Radio hits the airwaves this afternoon at noon Edmonton time on Team 1260. We’re up against the Oiler broadcast so I should also mention the archive will be available at the Nations sites in the next day or so. Guests scheduled to appear:
- Todd Nelson, head coach for the OKC Barons. I’ll ask him about Hartikainen’s progress between being sent down and recalled, and we’ll look over the roster and ask some questions about other Oiler prospects on the farm. Feel free to post questions and I promise to answer them.
- James Mirtle from the Globe and Mail. Mirtle hit the internet with a combination of curiosity, integrity and a gift for writing. He’s a straight shooter and I look forward to talking to him today.
- Dennis King posts his scoring chances at MC’s site but he’s a national treasure for Oiler fans. I got a lot of questions after his last visit so we’re bringing him back to discuss the Oilers, Oilers management, Edmonton media and if we have time we’ll get his opinion of the Outdorr classic and its future.
- Kent Wilson is improving the reputation of Flames bloggers one well written article at a time. We’ll take about Mr. Iginla’s journey to 500 goals and the promised land of NHL hockey, and discuss Jay Feaster’s spring.
- JP Nikota is one of the Pension Plan Puppets fine minds, and we’ll talk about Burke, Wilson, Phaneuf and the saga of Colton Orr.
Questions are always welcome, you can post them here or email firstname.lastname@example.org or @ItsNationRadio or Lowetide_ on twitter. Hope you can tune in.