TEEMU HARTIKAINEN: A STEP BACK FOR HARSKI?

Robin Brownlee
August 25 2011 09:19PM

If I was putting together the next edition of the Edmonton Oilers, Teemu Hartikainen would be on the 23-man roster. But I'm not, and I doubt he will be when the 2011-12 season opens, despite what I considered an impressive debut last season.

In that regard, as in starting the year on the Oilers roster, this season could be perceived as something of a step back for the 21-year-old Finnish winger known in the dressing room as Harski.

Despite turning some heads in 12 games with the Oilers last season, a stretch in which he scored 3-2-5 and went minus-3 while averaging 17:25 of ice time a game. when I look at Edmonton's depth chart, I see Hartikainen destined for a ticket to Oklahoma City.

As good a showing as Hartikainen had when summoned to fill one of the holes in a roster riddled by injuries, I was hoping to see more of him this season. I don't see that being the case now unless the injury bug strikes early and often in pre-season.

Where does he fit?

TOO MUCH DEPTH?

It seems laughable, and is, to suggest that a team that finished 30th for a second season in a row has too much depth to take a long look at a big-bodied banger with some skill like Hartikainen.

It's more a case of too many bodies, as opposed to too much proven depth, with the addition of necessary veteran components in Ryan Smyth and Eric Belanger and toughness in Ben Eager and Darcy Hordichuk to find room for the six-foot-three, 215-pound Finn.

If coach Tom Renney keeps 14 forwards to start the year, how does he find a place for Hartikainen? On left wing, there's Taylor Hall, Smyth, Magnus Paajarvi and Eager.

Down the middle, it looks like Sam Gagner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shawn Horcoff and Belanger with Anton Lander and Gilbert Brule contesting the position. While it's not guaranteed Nugent-Hopkins will be here beyond nine games, I don't see Hartikainen in the middle.

On the right side. it stacks up as Ales Hemsky, Jordan Eberle, Linus Omark and Ryan Jones, no?

At this point, Hartikainen projects as a bottom-six forward, so who from the mix of Paajarvi and Eager, Horcoff and Belanger or Omark and Jones does he displace?

NO HURRY

I'm not talking about trying to fast-track Hartikainen. Despite how he looked at the end of last season, a dozen NHL games doesn't give fans or coaches a clear or complete picture. He is, again, only 21. But, like I said, what I saw last season left me wanting more.

Contract situations and waiver considerations being what they are, it looks like those who feel the same way, like Hartikainen, will have to wait, unless he so clearly outperforms somebody ahead of him, there's no choice but to keep him.

Even if he does, we've seen how that often doesn't change the pre-determined pecking order going into training camp and pre-season -- think Omark a year ago -- that is laid out on the organizational chart on the wall in the coaching office at Rexall Place.

My guess is the ETA on Hartikainen is likely closer to January than it is October. That's not necessarily a developmental-derailer or a big blow, assuming somebody takes Hartikainen aside and explains the lay of the land, which obviously wasn't done to Omark's satisfaction a year ago.

Once again, patience is the word of the day.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#2 Shane
August 26 2011, 09:41AM
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LOIL wrote:

Please stop calling the players by their nick names like you know them. Its quite sad...

I hate it when people say this..When you watch 82 games a year, for years and spend money on jerseys/tickets/beers/hats/stickers/t-shirts/decals for your car. Not to mention grow up loving this team and say the names a thousand times, I think your allowed to shorten the name like "the boys" do. That's just my excuse but Robin actually talks to and gets to know these guys..

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#3 The Anti-Fist
August 26 2011, 10:33AM
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The ol' fist jokes remind me of grade school when someone made a witty joke, we all went har-har and the uncool kids see the attention thati person got, and beat a joke to death to make themselves feel special.

But on this forum it was done by people to be poop disturbers and makes the casual reader less likely to visit if the banter and comments are juvenile. I don't blame Brownies for adding some class by removing the comments. I'd wish it was done a long time back.

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#4 Clay
August 26 2011, 09:07AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

While your mother may approve of fisting, there will be none of it attached to items I write. Established and spelled out long ago, like it or not.

Now, pull your insulted self together, accept it or not and move on.

I wish all the bloggers at ON would take this stand!

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#5 VegasOilerFan
August 26 2011, 10:02AM
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I love Hartakainen but would rather see him get top 6 minutes on the farm this year than sit on the 4th line getting little quality playing time. Like most Oilers fans I have bought into the "rebuild" and am willing to wait one more year before Hartakainen tears it up on the 3rd line for the Oilers. Same goes for RNH if he isn't ready.

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#6 BigDawg
August 26 2011, 10:05AM
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We have been crying for years for guys to earn spots.. This is the perfect situation for all involved...including RNH... Depth.. maybe.. but the harder peeps work for a spot the better we will all be... The badge isnt handed to you.. you have to earn it..

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#7 yawto
August 25 2011, 09:27PM
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Does anybody know how much it'll cost to get "I'm An Oaf" for a namebar on by Oilers jersey?

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#8 book¡e
August 26 2011, 07:41AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

While your mother may approve of fisting, there will be none of it attached to items I write. Established and spelled out long ago, like it or not.

Now, pull your insulted self together, accept it or not and move on.

I thought it was ok to fist as long as it was part of a witty sentence, no?

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#9 Robin Brownlee
August 26 2011, 08:49AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Fan comments (here and elsewhere) already talking about how this guy or that guy needs to be moved to *make room* for Hartikanen, or how he's already better then XYZ proven NHL'er.

That kind of talk is premature. If Hartikainen forces the issue through camp, pre-season and after he, inevitably, gets sent to OKC, then the Oilers will have to take a look.

If the situation is framed the right way -- "Kid, you're in the plans but we have too many guys ahead of you right now, so be patient and show us what you've got" -- and he responds, he'll be fine. He's 21.

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#10 yawto
August 26 2011, 11:15AM
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What actually is real funny is how many people can get their panties in a knot over a simple word. It's like reading the word fist ruins your day. Sorry, didn't mean to offend robin or Walter or jack, whatever name you go by.

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#12 gongshow
August 26 2011, 06:17PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Haven't you ever wanted to wake a sleeping bear David?

Could be fun, taking a walk on the wild side is as good as a rest. There's alot of fun to be had if you act first and think later, everyday can be Friday or Saturday if you want it to be.

My wife's cousin, who I know quite well, was pipelining when their backhoe ripped the top off of a hibernating bear's den. The bear was quite groggy and so the cuz took this as a sign that he should creep up on the bear. He got his hand within a foot of giving the bear a noogie before what few brain cells he has left told him that this wasn't the best idea that he had ever had. Somehow, with ideas like that, he's still around.

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#13 K-UGER Industrial Smoothing
August 25 2011, 09:30PM
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It will cost $59.95. I already got mine.

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#14 Quicksilver ballet
August 25 2011, 09:49PM
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Patience is for lawn bowling and golf. I'm so sick of hearing this word now.....and to be only half way into this rebuild, it's a damn good thing Smytty's back to distract us from reality.

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#15 gongshow
August 25 2011, 10:00PM
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I loved what Teemu brought to the table in his stint last year. Both he and Linus helped keep my interest for a few games there.

Can someone help a brother out - I cannot figure out who's standing behind TH in the picture. Am I on crack?

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#16 Pucker
August 25 2011, 11:04PM
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natedoo22 wrote:

The youngin' behind Harskie is none other than Chris VandeVelde.

Robin, I agree with you entirely based on the fact Harskie brought exactly what this team needed but I too see no space on this current depth chart.

no no - not VV

I think he's talking about the cute blonde. I think it's Laura Dern.

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#17 MrCondor
August 26 2011, 08:20AM
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We should have more talented players than NHL roster spots. That's what good organizations want.

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#18 mayorpoop
August 26 2011, 08:33AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

"Hartski" = is now officially the most overated player in Oilerfanland.

that is only until the next post referencing any other player on the roster or in the farm or that could be drafted or that was just born and shows potential.

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#19 vetinari
August 26 2011, 08:59AM
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David Staples wrote:

Good points here.

Too much depth at forward but not enough depth on defence and in goal?

To me that signals a trading opporunity/necessity.

Crazy to deal Harsky, IMO, as I love his game, too, but all kinds of vets could be on block.

I agree with David, the Oilers finally have a tradeable commodity-- depth at forward that can hopefully be moved for some quality defencemen and/or a 1A or 1B goalie. Until Hemsky signs a new deal, he is obviously the most tradeable commodity but Brule and Horc (if the latter was willing to waive his no trade clause) could also be trade candidates.

I want to see Hartikainen in the big's sooner rather than later because he actually brought the pain every game. Rather than look at the depth chart in the way presented in the article, look at it this way-- imagine a third/fourth line with Hartikainen/Belanger/Jones on it? Wouldn't that be an ugly line to play against and could actually score some goals in a depth role?

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#20 LOIL
August 26 2011, 09:37AM
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Please stop calling the players by their nick names like you know them. Its quite sad...

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#21 WeepForTheSin
August 26 2011, 09:48AM
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We finally have a lineup that isn't filled to the brim with rookies and people want to trade our few veteran players to insert more?

I loved what I saw from Harski, but it was 12 games at the end of the season playing against teams that had already made the playoffs or were already eliminated from the playoffs (mostly). The intensity of competition wasn't quite normal.

Plus, he was getting more ice time than I'd expect him to get on the fourth line this year, so his 5 points in 12 games may be misleading.

There is nothing wrong with him in the AHL for the whole season this year. That means we are finally starting to improve.

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#22 mayorpoop
August 26 2011, 09:51AM
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LOIL wrote:

Amen. The whole "fist" phenomenon is completely unfunny. And the fact that guys on here think it is makes most with any sense of humour shake their heads...

first off i will state i am in the anti-f!st movement, as in i don't f!st.

you know what tho...i don't really care if others do. your version of humour and someone else's may completley different (obviously is), so let it be.

f!st all you want people of the nation and i will just skip by the thread if i don't enjoy.

lastly, robin can do whatever the heck he wants (and will) with f!sters...when you are the boss you can do that.

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#23 kgo
August 26 2011, 10:46AM
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look how fresh and unbroken his face looks, he clearly needs more time in the AHL

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#24 mayorpoop
August 26 2011, 11:28AM
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The Anti-Fist wrote:

The ol' fist jokes remind me of grade school when someone made a witty joke, we all went har-har and the uncool kids see the attention thati person got, and beat a joke to death to make themselves feel special.

But on this forum it was done by people to be poop disturbers and makes the casual reader less likely to visit if the banter and comments are juvenile. I don't blame Brownies for adding some class by removing the comments. I'd wish it was done a long time back.

thank you last century for ensuring that certain words are censored for me.

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#25 The Beaker
August 26 2011, 02:00PM
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@Craig1981

He said to the pressbox not to the minors.

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#26 David S
August 26 2011, 02:58PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

This editing of the first post thing could really start to catch on. I'm tempted to throw myself under the bus and see what Rueben has in store for me.

I dunno man. Mess with the bull and you'll get the horns.

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#27 David S
August 26 2011, 03:27PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

I am yet to step out of line and have Mr. Brownlee give me a stern talk with a poetic (and slightly arrogant) post. But I do tell you, I'm not looking forward to it.......not one little bit. :S

Just don't let him catch you apple polishing. No sir, that doesn't go over too well.

*Whistles and looks up to the sky*

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#28 Quicksilver ballet
August 27 2011, 01:48PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

lotto picks are rarely traded unless another high pick is coming back (ie at team trading down a few notches).

The chances of the Oil netting 2 extra lotto picks in 4 years has to be close to nill.

I agree, if you're not going to put forth the effort, nothing will ever come your way. These are extraordinary times for Oilersnation, is it too much to ask for an extraordinary effort from the GM?

There's nothing wrong with a 2 step process to move up into this scenario. A Hemsky or a Gagner for an 8th and then swap that 8th and a roster player for another shot in that top 5. The impossibles are those little hurdles we all have to overcome in our paths. Miracles, well, they can be more difficult.

Have to believe this is Tambellinis last year here anyways. He's done what he was brought here to do by driving this franchise face first into the mud. Maybe things would have been different for him had he not had Kevin Lowe looking over his shoulders and okaying everything he's done during those roundtable tribal council meetings they hold. With Steve sitting on his hands during the four Oiler entry drafts to date, one has to wonder if he even has the contacts to do what needed to be done.

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#29 Dog Train
August 25 2011, 09:29PM
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Coming out of last year, I think that most people, myself included figured that Harski as well as Petry were virtual locks for the team coming out of camp. Now that Tambo went out and got some guys who are blocking their paths to the bigs right now, these guys can continue to learn in the minors and understand that nothing is given to them that easily. I think that this will only make these players better in the long run and they will be regular contributors either late next season or from the get-go in 2012-2013. Harski will be a fan favourite for sure.

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#30 Tayranchula
August 25 2011, 09:37PM
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I dont think it is going to be harmful to Harksi at all if he is sent down. He has only been playing professional hockey in north america for a year. Seasoning a player like this will benefit the Oilers and him in the long run. He is going to rip the farm and be a solid call up and next year could find himself on the big team because there is nothing more to prove at the AHL level. I admire players like Harski and are very excited the Oilers have a prospect like this. But in saying that I would rather have a bottom 6 foward more than ready to play in the NHL, then to have a not proven player at such a young age.

This is a prediction but I see Harksi full time on the Oilers roster next year cause the Oil will have to part with either Omark or Hemsky.

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#31 Sean
August 25 2011, 09:38PM
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I see Hartikainen as a third line winger, which means in the future this team has to decide between Omark and Hemsky. Eberle would be on the first line, Omark/Hemsky on the second, Teemu on the third and a player like Jones on the fourth.

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#32 David Staples
August 25 2011, 10:01PM
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Good points here.

Too much depth at forward but not enough depth on defence and in goal?

To me that signals a trading opporunity/necessity.

Crazy to deal Harsky, IMO, as I love his game, too, but all kinds of vets could be on block.

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#33 justDOit
August 25 2011, 10:14PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Yes, ST should have dealt prospects & picks for Bogosian and signed Brad Richards to the NHL maximum for 50 yrs. That's a proven strategy.

Harski will be back soon, and like Omark, he'll be better for it. Until then, he's a temporary victim of the NHL numbers game.

'They' say that ST has been in numerous talks with various teams throughout the summer, and I'll be surprised if we don't see some roster moves before December. Until then, we still have the injury bug to provide open roster spots.

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#34 YFC Prez
August 25 2011, 10:24PM
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*wy whacky prediction...We see Hartikainen after the deadline when Hemsky is traded for a quality D-man to shore up the problems the oil will have in the backend. Can Hartikainen play on the right side?

*I don't think I have ever had any prediction pan out, EVER

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#35 SLURVE
August 25 2011, 10:37PM
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I don't think Hordichuk will be playing that much perhaps there is room for Hartikainen. The Oilers have been injured more often than not since 2006, if so, Hartik could find some playing time.

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#36 @NateInVegas
August 25 2011, 10:44PM
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-Fraser/Foster +Hordichuck/Sutton

They average 58 and 49 games respectively over the last 5 years. There will be time for Harksi & Petry with the Oilers this season.

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#37 natedoo22
August 25 2011, 10:46PM
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gongshow wrote:

I loved what Teemu brought to the table in his stint last year. Both he and Linus helped keep my interest for a few games there.

Can someone help a brother out - I cannot figure out who's standing behind TH in the picture. Am I on crack?

The youngin' behind Harskie is none other than Chris VandeVelde.

Robin, I agree with you entirely based on the fact Harskie brought exactly what this team needed but I too see no space on this current depth chart.

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#38 Wanyes bastard child
August 25 2011, 11:13PM
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Pucker wrote:

no no - not VV

I think he's talking about the cute blonde. I think it's Laura Dern.

Are you on glue? Thats clearly Tom Renney eh.

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#39 Bleak Winter
August 25 2011, 11:27PM
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Pucker wrote:

no no - not VV

I think he's talking about the cute blonde. I think it's Laura Dern.

Oh man. If "cute blonde" = "Laura Dern", we Oiler fans really are stuck in 1985!

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#40 loosemoose
August 25 2011, 11:30PM
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thanks for the laugh Robin...too much depth!* *that's what she said

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#41 Oilcruzer
August 26 2011, 12:13AM
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Pucker wrote:

no no - not VV

I think he's talking about the cute blonde. I think it's Laura Dern.

She's not blonde! Look at the brows.

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#42 Saytalk
August 26 2011, 04:05AM
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I would rather see Hartakainen make the Oilers roster and then have Omark get sent down, for the main reason that Hartakainen is a lot closer to being a quality bottom-6 forward than Omark is to being a passable top-6. Omark needs more development work at the AHL level for his projected role.

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#43 jake
August 26 2011, 04:47AM
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Saytalk wrote:

I would rather see Hartakainen make the Oilers roster and then have Omark get sent down, for the main reason that Hartakainen is a lot closer to being a quality bottom-6 forward than Omark is to being a passable top-6. Omark needs more development work at the AHL level for his projected role.

I believe Omark has his out clause (2nd year of his 2 year deal), meaning if he doesn't make the big team, he can bolt back to Europe if he so chooses. Someone may correct me on this.

I liked the Ryan Jones signing initially, now not so sure, especially the 2 year term, with Hartikainnen's path a little blocked with all the bodies.

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#44 Aitch
August 26 2011, 05:02AM
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@SLURVE

I dunno... I'd rather have Hordichuk in the press box than Hartikainen.

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#45 yawto
August 26 2011, 05:30AM
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yawto wrote:

Does anybody know how much it'll cost to get "I'm An Oaf" for a namebar on by Oilers jersey?

Does the moderator who decided it would be funny to modify my quote for no apparent reason want to explain. You tell us to post as if our mother was looking over your shoulder. Would your mom approve of modifying a comment to become a self insult for no apparent reason. I understand the internet is a nameless place but I find it extremely insulting that someone controlling this site is modifying comments for no reason.

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#46 TrentonL
August 26 2011, 07:42AM
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I'd play Hartikainen ahead of Jones any day of the week. Unfortunately the "Wonder GM" decided to give Jones $1.5 million effectively guaranteeing a roster spot.....

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#47 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 26 2011, 08:12AM
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"Hartski" = is now officially the most overated player in Oilerfanland.

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#48 YFC Prez
August 26 2011, 08:23AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

"Hartski" = is now officially the most overated player in Oilerfanland.

well show me the way to "oilerfanland". His dozen games last season left me wanting to see more...MUCH more.

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#49 Robin Brownlee
August 26 2011, 08:34AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

"Hartski" = is now officially the most overated player in Oilerfanland.

How so?

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#50 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 26 2011, 08:43AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

How so?

Fan comments (here and elsewhere) already talking about how this guy or that guy needs to be moved to *make room* for Hartikanen, or how he's already better then XYZ proven NHL'er.

Comments are closed for this article.