IN A FIT OF PIQUE?

As things stand, I’m wondering if Teemu Hartikainen made a mistake. Looking at the current Oilers top 13F, I’m thinking the big Finn might have a real chance to slide past a few of the current group.

Hartikainen needed to do some work on his game, I heard rumors about conditioning and of course it’s obvious that he didn’t piss a drop at evens during the NHL schedule this year. Harski was sent down two games before the end of the schedule, with this from the coach:

  • Krueger: “He’s trying to figure out what a gritty, strong power forward does and what’s connected to that. What’s important for him is to continue to manage the puck in all three zones.”

and this from his GM:

  • MacTavish: “in today’s NHL, even marginally, you have to be a threat to score”

That was then, this is now. The shopping spree is over and the cold light of morning shows  the roster without size/skill combinations. You can argue Harski didn’t do much in the NHL, but that’s a small sample size.

One of my favorite hockey writers–full stop–is Neal Livingston. I’m prepared to consider the OKC experiment successful if only because we grabbed his prose from baseball (American writers are moths to the flame for the romance of baseball) and he sees the game with a unique eye. Livingston wrote this earlier in summer about Hartikainen:

  • “You take the pieces of Hartikainen’s game, throw in the human element, realize he has the rest of his life before him, and suddenly you understand why he’d choose to play KHL hockey. Not because he gave up on the Oilers, didn’t work hard, or even prove he had things that people want – it’s because he lives life by his standards. Rather than allow his NHL club to throw him to the waiver wire in the upcoming season, he’ll choose his own path. At least for now. That’s admirable, and chances are, you’d do the same thing.”

That’s probably true. However, faced with opposition that includes Jesse Joensuu, Ryan Jones, Ryan Smyth and Mike Brown, I think Teemu Hartikainen would have made this team.

Without a throw.

 

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27 Responses to "IN A FIT OF PIQUE?"

  1. linkfromhyrule says:

    yeah I’m thinking he would have been a lock for at least the 4th line this season. I have my reservations about him though after hearing some comments about him needing to be motivated etc. Still he is what this team needs. Oh well, maybe he’ll come back next year? I wonder if his contract has a window

  2. theres oil in virginia says:

    I’m afraid that this says more about the current shape of the lineup than it does about Hartski. I think he’s better where he is now and I don’t see it as a loss for the Oilers next year.

  3. Vince says:

    icing counts as a positive zone finish right?

  4. Vince says:

    meaning the other team ices it obviously

  5. Bank Shot says:

    If Mactavish wasn’t offering a one way contract then you cant really blame Hartikainen for the Russian deal. I’m thinking it very likely that the offer was only a two way.

    If you had a 100% chance at $1 million dollars versus a 50% chance, you have to take the sure thing IMO.

  6. oliveoilers says:

    I watched him a few times last season, and it is my opinion that, like Penner, he played his best games with a bee in his bonnet. When someone pissed him off, he played awesome. I don’t remember that exact game, but he played like a demon, hit anything that moved in the offensive zone and had defenders looking over their shoulders for him. Unfortunately, consistency was his enemy!

  7. SinceTheWHADays says:

    Sail on Harski…the new Fin J. J. is going to be better, more consistent. J. J. and Belov are going to be this years sleepers and Harski just would have gotten in the way.

  8. spoiler says:

    His AHL coach implied his effort level wasn’t there even at the AHL level… Too many shifts off it sounds like. The demands aren’t as high in the K and the money is just as good. I think Harski will find his comfort level there and we will have seen the last of him.

  9. cabbiesmacker says:

    theres oil in virginia:
    I’m afraid that this says more about the current shape of the lineup than it does about Hartski.I

    Haha. Sad but very true. Fack…Dave Lumley could make this teams 4th line. If he started working out 3rd week of August of course.

  10. cabbiesmacker says:

    “Alas poor Harski….we knew him.” One thunderous bodycheck and the poor saps rendered useless.

    I really wanted him to succeed. Hell, he was a 6th rounder and had more potential than 97% of Mediocre Bastard Stu’s seconds.

  11. Vince says:

    i think a big part of the bottom 6′s construction this off-season is a trial balloon for a hardcore moneyball approach to building a competitive roster (a huge advantage, for a bottom 10 UFA destination planning on legit Cup contention thru 2020). If Joensuu proves a legit 3rd line player, Smyth rebounds, Jones excels at wherever he’s slotted [utility player all over the lineup (injury, top six player struggles, etc. )], Smyth rebounds, Lander doesn’t force a Smithson type (overpay) trade early on. 3 of 4 of these would be a huge win for MacT and provide a template for a cap constrained contending roster if they can stay ahead the curve a year or two.

    i don’t include the Perron trade in the above comment because putting aside the “our analytics guys love this playyer” comment I think Perron was one of few options for a “young player with upside+ pick for legit top 6 forward” type deal. A normal hockey trade rather than a money ball type deal.

  12. supernova says:

    I agree Neil Livingston is a great read, keep wandering when he gets snapped up by a magazine.

    As for harski, I tend to look at these as a positive, hopefully he goes over to Russia, develops his game and his skills, and comes back with something to prove. He didnt show enough the last 2 seasons to warrant a 1 way deal, and unfortunately we would have lost him or burnt a roster spot on a player undeserving of it.

    We did that way to much in the Tambo era.

    As far as different career paths routes then the norm, I have a affinity for those types. The Barry Sanders, Robert Smiths, even the Ricky Williams. We as sports fans don’t get to see into their private minds and I laud them for what must be a tough choice in going against the grain. Harski isn’t one of these but he is not going the route most travelled and hopefully that works for him and us in the future.

  13. OilClog says:

    I would say, he wouldn’t make the team.

    He showed us nothing last season, small sample size or not, his game just isn’t at the level it needs to be. He’s not a pest player, he’s not quick, and his “in house” game speed isn’t up to NHL velocity yet. If he can come back in two years and show a big improvement, GREAT! Otherwise, Sail On. Lots of rugged Finns out there, he’s had his chance to show his Esa, now please allow another native do the same!

  14. russ99 says:

    Ugh, not this again. Despite being the darling of every blog last season, Hartikainen didn’t do enough at the NHL level. Omark did more in his time here.

    If he comes back after a few years in the KHL, that’s fine, but until then, he’s yet another example of a size player that Tambellini assumed had some skill, and didn’t.

  15. SpotTheLoon says:

    Didn’t Hartikainen sign in the KHL even before he was tendered a qualifying offer from the Oilers? Don’t think we can speculate on reasons for departure being over contract offers unless he hit the mother load in the KHL which I don’t think he did. Didn’t he also finish the year in OKC? If so, would he have had an exit interview with MacT? There were some question marks about his ability to contribute offensively with the big club and to playing the banging role. That said, you can’t teach size. I would have thought that a reading of the tea leaves (waiver eligible next year) would mean that he stood a good chance of making the club. I still find his decision a bit baffling. Perhaps there were other reasons why he bolted so quickly to the KHL at the end of the year. Curiouser and curiouser.

  16. BlacqueJacque says:

    Hartikainen always looked undersized to me as a pure power forward. He doesn’t have the scoring abilities and agitation factor that Dustin Brown has or the size and abilities of a Penner, which even when matches with the lack of drive in Penner, deliver some résulte. As a bruising checker, he wasn’t even a Moreau. Certainly not as capable, though he is young and Moreau was a late bloomer.

    Unlike Magnus, who had the tools and was developing the proper mentality, Harski was willing but physically unable.

  17. BlacqueJacque says:

    Oh wow, I just read that Tencer is done covering the Oil.

  18. regwald says:

    BlacqueJacque:
    Oh wow, I just read that Tencer is done covering the Oil.

    Not sure he is done covering the Oilers based on this tweet.

    Dan Tencer ‏@dantencer 10h

    FYI: I will retain a role on the Oilers Radio Network broadcasts, but that will be rolled out once we announce my replacement at night.

    So, it sounds like his regular evening show will be given to a new host.

  19. "Steve Smith" says:

    BlacqueJacque,

    In favour of current events, apparently. Because nothing prepares somebody for the world of serious journalism like the hard-hitting, sacred cow-butchering, hyper-analytic world of sports media.

  20. Dead Cat Bounce says:

    Sports journalism is a contradiction in terms.

    Other than the occasional Cam Cole, they are a motley collection of fart catchers.

    No brains…no balls.

  21. Ducey says:

    russ99:
    Ugh, not this again. Despite being the darling of every blog last season, Hartikainen didn’t do enough at the NHL level. Omark did more in his time here.

    If he comes back after a few years in the KHL, that’s fine, but until then, he’s yet another example of a size player that Tambellini assumed had some skill, and didn’t.

    Harksy is a size player that didn’t play with any size. His skill was good enough if he spent some time running into people and making life miserable for the opposition.

  22. Bank Shot says:

    I remember distinctly a play by Harty in the game before he was sent down. He picked up the puck just outside the oilers zone. He had a tonne of room to move through the neutral zone. He just took a couple of strides with with the puck and then threw it into the the middle of the neutral zone where it was picked up by the other team. I couldn’t really make sense of it as there wasn’t an intended receiver near the area he threw the puck to. I remember Chorney doing a similar play. The guy picked up the puck in his own end. There wasn’t an opposition player within 30 feet of him. Chorney just took the puck and hammered it off the corner glass without even looking around.

    When players make plays like that, it seems clear that the NHL game is just happening way too quickly for them. When I see stuff like that happen, the offending player seems to disappear from the league. NHL decision makers don’t appear to be very forgiving when it comes to brain dead play.

  23. OilClog says:

    This is summer delirium, bring on the jets!

  24. fifthcartel says:

    Are there any more prospects coming to NA over after this coming year, other than Gustafsson and Yakimov?

  25. OilLeak says:

    fifthcartel:
    Are there any more prospects coming to NA over after this coming year, other than Gustafsson and Yakimov?

    Maybe Touhimaa if he has a good year in the Sm-liga? Has a contract with HPK for the next two seasons though.

  26. Bushed says:

    The Penner comparison is interesting. Like Penner, Harski was asked to change his game to play a style he wasn’t completely familiar with; in effect, based on size rather than past play or “instinct”.

    Penner and others who had to learn to play the “power forward” role at the NHL level have looked awkward, lost, and sometimes befuddled about what they’re supposed to be doing in various situations. It’s a difficult role to play and learn, and it takes time. Lucic looked pretty awkward for a few years before he “got it”; Penner is still a work in progress; Bertuzzi was traded before he started to mature into his role.

    Harski showed flashes of the physical tools needed for this role, plus some speed. Maybe he just needs some time and coaching to help him get there.

    It seems similar to asking a really good country picker to play metal music. It’s still guitar, but the adjustment probably isn’t going to happen overnight?

    One of the Oil Change shows had Harski talking with PRV about having to learn to play a different style, one which was clearly not what he has been used to playing.

    Maybe he thought the KHL would allow him to revert back to a style he was more used to playing?

  27. admiralmark says:

    In my opinion Harski had the tools. He had examples of games that the coaching staff could refer to and say.. this is what you gotta do. And yet he did not consistently follow the program . I don’t believe “He Believed” that he could play that style… So off to the KHL he went. Too bad,

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