Teemu Hartikainen seems to wake up every spring and turn into just about exactly what the Oilers need: a big, strong Finn with enough skill to be dangerous. Is Teemu Hartikainen good enough to roll with the skilled men?
The first time Edmonton ever played Tampa Bay the Lightning plastered the Oilers 6-1. Craig Simpson scored the only Oilers goal and the club held a record of 1-6-1 under Ted Green (this was 92-93). When Simpson faded, Edmonton drafted Ryan Smyth and for many years #94 found gainful employement as a combination pest/goalmouth scorer (although he was more than that); now, as the Smyth’s days wind down, Hartikainen is the most likely candidate to replace him.
Does Hartikainen have what it takes to play that tough, physical style? Can he pass and take a pass? Can his shot beat an NHL goalie?
We’ve talked about this before (most recently in the top 20 prospect series) but Hartikainen is the one minor league prospect who appears to have a clear path to the basket. His skill set is somewhat unique for the group, he has shown flashes of that ability in the minors, and the young man has added a lesson or two during the long season.
- “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.”
I love the guy. Hartikainen was taken in the sixth round of MBS’s first draft and has now played 20 NHL games (3-5-8). If he can score 15 goals a season and bring a physical element to a skill line while also being able to take and make a pass, Edmonton will have solved a significant problem from deep inside the draft.
Credit where due the organization, but if he makes it most of the applause should be given to the Jack of Hearts.