This could be Teemu Hartikainen’s best chance to grab a job as an NHL regular. The club is looking to add size to the skill lines and the young Finn is among the best available options.
RE 12-13: 50, 9-8-17
- How much will he play? It’s so difficult to read this roster as it now stands. I’m guessing that he’ll get half a job for a full season. If that makes any sense.
- Who gets the other half? Lots of people get at-bats. I expect coach Krueger will choose between Hartikainen and Paajarvi (as a for instance) but from the mid-summer vantage point it’s a tough read. I’m picking Hartikainen to get the big league job at the start of the season and hang around long enough to play in 50 games.
- How might this work? It was explained by Elliotte Friedman in his 30 thoughts year end edition. Quoting Friedman: “He (Krueger)explained that he liked Jordan Eberle with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner with Ales Hemsky. That not only allows him to move Hall around the lineup, but also rotate others depending on the situation — Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones, Ben Eager and potentially even Shawn Horcoff on the wing. I’m really curious to see this. This stuff fascinates me.” Me too.
- Have the Oilers ever had this situation before? Back in the fall of 1996 the club had a bunch of very nice young wingers–Ryan Smyth, Miro Satan, Steve Kelly, Mike Grier, Rem Murray–it was a nice group. Would have been better if they had been able to identify Satan as a player but they had tons of talent.
- Who are the most talented kids on the wing? You know this: Hall, Eberle, Yakupov are the class of the group.
- And after that? I think Hartikainen is at the top of the next group. Joining the Finn might be Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark (although he is extremely unlikely to play for the Oilers again). I think the “young skill wingers with a chance” list ends at about Phil Cornet at this point.
- What about Pitlick and Hamilton? I don’t think we can include them on the list until their skill shows at the AHL level. It isn’t an established level of ability that we can see, as in the case of Hartikainen.
- How far off the pace are they? Hartikainen’s rookie AHL season saw him post 66, 17-25-42 .636; Pitlick was 72, 7-16-23 .319 and Hamilton 41, 5-6-11 .268. We don’t know the TOI or specifics but that’s a wide enough gap to suggest both players are at least a year away from being discussed as candidates for a job on any NHL skill line.
- Was there a big age difference? Hartikainen was 6 months older at the beginning of his AHL rookie season as compared to Pitlick and Hamilton.
- Why do you think Hartikainen gets the push over Paajarvi? That’s something we’ll address when we get to Paajarvi but I’ll say that it isn’t clear one way or another at this point and the RE reflects that fact.
- You said Hartikainen would win the opening night job. Sure, but that doesn’t mean a lot and I have Paajarvi playing in the NHL next season, too.
- Is this Harski’s last chance? No. Hartikainen isn’t a waiver worry this fall, but he will be next season. I have him playing 50 games this year, and if he does that the Finn will have played basically one NHL season during his entry level contract. His NHL totals would be 79, 14-13-27.
- Does Hartikainen have enough to make it? That’s the question. Look, we can look at NHLE and “saw him good” and quote scouts or youtube but there’s a certain amount of luck and timing in all of this making the grade stuff. If we think back on this decade, there was a time when Kyle Brodziak and Marc Pouliot looked about the same. Why did one make it and the other didn’t? Well, there are lots of reasons involving hard work, persistence, good luck bad luck and bias; those reasons will factor into the future for Hartikainen and Paajarvi.
- What is Hartikainen’s biggest positive? The organization needs a big winger who can hit, move bodies and win battles along the boards. Hartikainen fits many of those descriptions, certainly more than any of the other close-to-NHL-ready wingers on the team.
- Can he score 20 goals in a season? He scored 20 (including playoffs) a year ago in OKC. Yes, he can score 20 goals in a season with this current Oiler team.
- You seem certain. Hey, you put an old steel table hockey winger next to Nuge and Ebs and that guy can score a few. Hartikainen can do some things in the offensive zone and if he gets a break the big man could be this generation’s Brett Callighen or Tom Roulston. Doesn’t mean it’ll happen, but it is possible for Hartikainen to grab a career as a complementary Krushelnyski on the Nuge-Eberle line.
- Bottom line: does Hartikainen play a decade in Edmonton, scoring 150 goals on a skill line while helping the copper and blue win a Stanley? I don’t see it happening. I do see him having a career north of 200 games, but the Oilers already have a quality veteran under contract in Ales Hemsky, an elite #1 overall ready to unwrap in Nail Yakupov plus the foundation in Hall and Eberle. No sin in not being able to crack that nut.
- This is depressing. Not really. Teemu Hartikainen was taken in the 6th round four years ago and has been in 29 NHL games. He’s the best late round pick by the Oilers since Kyle Brodziak in 2003. He could have a long and productive career, but my guess is that he doesn’t play on a skill line for the Oilers 2013-20.