The die was cast, the script was written, and it happened a year ago. When Craig MacTavish took over, the first move he made was calling up Temmu Hartikainen. That was April 15, 2013. Hartikainen’s stats April 15 to end of season:
- April 16: 10:37 TOI, 16 shifts and 2 shots on goal.
- April 21: 14:54 TOI, 18 shifts and 1 shot on goal.
- April 22: 13:18 TOI, 15 shifts and 1 shot on goal. -1.
- April 24: 10:51 TOI, 13 shifts and 1 shot on goal.
- Ralph Krueger (as Harski was sent down with two games left): “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 that’s all she wrote. No goals for, not much happening before he arrived or while he was here. It may have been decided before he arrived, or during mid-April, but in the window of opportunity for Hartikainen, nothing rhymed. Later, Craig MacTavish talked about what he wanted from his depth players:
- “In today’s NHL, even marginally, you have to be a threat to score.”
The biggest news today, in real terms, was spelled out one year ago April. Was it conditioning? Was it skill? Was it footspeed? Was it rugged play? It doesn’t matter now, Harski’s gone and we weep for ourselves and Finlandia. The Oilers haven’t won one damn thing without a Finn, and they just threw another overboard.
THE FRASER INSTITUTE
The new Fistric arrived today, a 27-year old tough guy who plays defense. Jonathan Willis wrote a thoughtful piece this morning over at Oilers Nation, and I agree with most of what he’s saying. I think this is a chance to check out the new hand, see if he gets along with the rest of the crew and is willing to pick up some extra shifts when the lads want to blow off some steam but there’s still work to be done. If he can show up on time, do what’s asked and is a reasonable sort, maybe the foreman will put him on full-time. You can’t begrudge a man from earning an honest day’s work, and he’s gotta punch a clock somewhere (this is pretty much what my Dad would have said in the 1960′s about a new man at the sawmill).
I’m kind of shocked about how much attention the Fraser portion of the deal received today. Oiler fans sure worry about 4th lines and extra blue. I don’t think he blocks anyone, because the Oilers have only one OKC prospect (David Musil) who in any way resembles the player type. The things Fraser represents for this roster don’t exist in Klefbom, or Gernat, or Davidson or Taylor Fedun.
Well, you bring in a guy Friday so you can send out another guy Monday. That’s what the deadline is all about, and one suspects we’ll see something here soon. Oilers play tomorrow morning and then again Tuesday night, but after that they have clear sailing until Thursday and that’s the natural window.
Who’s going? Nick Schultz, Anton Belov or Corey Potter would be my guess. I know many don’t rate Belov or Potter, but I’m fine with keeping them and do think an NHL team might acquire one or both as we head to the deadline. Defensemen have value, and credit to MacTavish for bringing in a bunch of them—he’ll be able to add a pick or two that have been sent away because of it.
My guess? They’ll be leaving Nick Schultz in Boston.
- Stu MacGregor: “(Scout) Bob Brown had an extreme passion for him. He’s a big kid who had a huge growth spurt in the last couple of years. A kid that has to improve skating, obviously, when you grow that much you’re going to have to improve your skating. We needed to try and get some physicality and he’s a young guy who we think is going to be a huge advantage for us.”
A final note on new General Managers and prospects. I’ve mentioned this before, and it’s worth reviewing today: when a new GM enters the scene, the fringe and marginal prospects of the previous admin are likely doomed in the instant the new suit signs the papers.
It has always been thus.