(Photo: Courtesy Steven Christy Photography. All Rights Reserved.)
Teemu Hartikainen is in the final year of his entry level deal. The big Finn has a “window of opportunity” to show the Oilers brass he can run with the bulls, and so far he’s been able to keep pace.
- Hartikainen: “I’m playing good and I feel good and it’s the last year of my contract, so of course I want the lockout to end so I can get the chance to show the Oilers I can play up there.”
Hartikainen began the year down the depth chart, but soon caught on with the Nuge and Jordan Eberle, making hay with the big boys and showing some chemistry with the NHLers. After Hall’s arrival, Hartikainen joined Swedes Lander and (half-Finn) Paajarvi to form a line that has been effective if not offensive.
Summer 2012: #6
Winter 2012: #5
- International Scouting Services: “real warrior who hates to lose. Great work ethic, loves to play a physical style and when he’s on he’s unstoppable. Has a habit of taking bad penalties. Does not have a lot of offensive flair but does have the skill set to be a reliable defensive center at the next level.”
- Redline Report: “good size and strength, his feet are fairly heavy.”
- Boxcars: 16, 5-9-14 +2 14pims
- Todd Nelson: “Harty’s got pretty good hands around the net. Lots of his goals come in tight, off secondary chances. He’s also doing a heck of a job on the power play, in front of the net, mirroring the goalie.” (This came during a period Hartikainen scored 7 points in 7 games, playing with RNH and Eberle).
- More Nelson: “The thing (Hartikainen) has to do is what he did in the playoffs last year. He was very dominant. He played a very physical game. And he has the ability to score goals.”
- Hartikainen on playing the powerforward role: “I’ve been playing that way all my life, but when I came over here (to North America from Finland) I didn’t know how I should I play. Do I need to score a lot of points and be a really good player in the stats? Now I know.”
- Steve Tambellini: “What he brings is the ability for us to sustain pressure. It’s hard to move him off the puck. Teemu’s biggest thing has been having consistency as a pro, deliver every night. He’s off to a very good start, which is important for him. I know he’s working very hard on his strength and conditioning to sustain the type of play we’re demanding from him. If he keeps it up, he’ll have a good shot at (playing in) the National (Hockey) League.”
There have been more talented men who patrolled the wing for the Edmonton Oilers. Jari Kurri was one of them. So was Donny Murdoch, Linus Omark is a more talented hockey player than Teemu Hartikainen.
Some call it heart, some call it effort, it is an outstanding opportunity.
The Oilers want a big winger to play with their skilled kids and he’s bonding with them, finding chemistry with them, team building with them. It doesn’t always work out–Donny Murdoch was sent away after extended time with the Boys on the Bus–and if he can’t hold the job there will be other options along soon enough.
For now, Hartikainen is a strong option.
- December 2004: D Doug Lynch
- December 2005: C Andrew Cogliano
- December 2006: L Jean-Francois Jacques
- December 2007: C Rob Schremp
- December 2008: D Alex Plante
- December 2009: D Theo Peckham
- December 2010: D Theo Peckham
- December 2011: D Martin Marincin
- December 2012: L Teemu Hartikainen
Next fall, the Oilers will have to keep Hartikainen on the roster or lose him to waivers. The other winger options (top 6) for the club are Hall, Eberle, Yakupov and Hemsky. Hartikainen can’t compete with that kind of skill, but based on how the Oilers are constructing their roster it looks like they would prefer a big powerforward over skill. Perhaps they’ll move Yakupov to a “mentor” third line or they may do the unthinkable and send away Hemsky.
Either way, I believe Hartikainen is at a point where he’s earned his NHL shot, and I believe he’ll get it when the lockout ends.