I imagine Teemu Hartikainen has a thousand things running through his brain today. Play well, contribute to his line’s success, don’t get hurt, remember to pack everything. It may or may not be his final night in the minors for years, but it could be and that’s a plateau all on its own.
Harski has “earned” the right to compete for an NHL job and his unique skills (size, hands) have gotten him this far and just might be enough for him to spend the heart of his career as a regular in the best league on the planet. He has played 152 AHL games now and the Oilers are reaching that point where they either keep him in the NHL or “Brad Winchester” him to another team for a second opinion.
In this 152 AHL games, Hartikainen’s boxcars (42-58-100) suggest a player of some ability. That’s about two seasons worth of games so if he can post 50 points in an AHL season then 25 in the NHL seems reachable. Can he hang with the big boys and get that number north of 35 points? Would it be enough?
If the Oilers call up only Hartikainen, the roster might look like this:
- Goal (2): Devan Dubnyk, Nikolai Khabibulin
- Defense (7): Ryan Whitney, Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz, Nick Schultz, Corey Potter, Theo Peckham
- Center (4): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger
- Left W (5): Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, Ryan Smyth, Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk
- Right W (4): Ales Hemsky, Jordan Eberle, Teemu Hartikainen, Lennart Petrell
meaning they’re one short. They could add any of the following:
- G Yann Danis
- D Colten Teubert
- C Anton Lander
- C Chris VandeVelde
- L Magnus Paajarvi
- R Mark Arcobello
and I’m sure a few others could end up being considered (Fedun, Marincin, Green) but I think we’ve got them surrounded. Suspect Edmonton adds someone for the big club or chooses from column B above but replaced that player in OKC with a solid AHL veteran.
As crazy as it sounds, it looks from here as though there is a huge opportunity for this guy to shine. The Ryan Jones injury combined with a strong organizational need to add some skill to the 3-4 lines makes Paajarvi a solid option. He might end up on a 3line with Horcoff-Smyth or possibly part of a 4line with Belanger and Petrell. No matter how things shake out, he needs to play well and make sure the coach can call on him in as many situations as possible. That’s how Fernando Pisani passed Daniel Cleary, and Paajarvi doesn’t have anyone of Cleary’s quality in his way.
New coach, fresh chance. Knock it out of the park, young man. And if the Oilers don’t call him up, shame on them.