August 28 2011 10:34AM
Lost among all of the excitement over the electric foursome of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark, Teemu Hartikainen established himself as an outstanding prospect in 2010-11. Hartikainen displayed a wide range of skills, posted solid AHL numbers at age 20 and impressed when called to the show. How good is he?
There's nothing worth looking at here
Not true. Over the years, Edmonton's AHL teams have sent a lot of quality up the pipeline. It's true that their "pure skill" players like Michel Riesen and Rob Schremp haven't found the range at the NHL level, but Hartikainen has a nice range of skills and could be an actual NHL player down the line. The Oilers have shown an ability to develop that player type quite well.
There are a few. Allow me to post Hartikainen's numbers at 20 years old and then add in a group of players who also arrived in the AHL at 20 with the organization. These players may not be ideal comparables, but do fit the "wide range of skills" we're looking for and have played at least some NHL games.
- LW Teemu Hartikainen (10-11 Oklahoma City Barons). 66gp, 17-25-42 .636ppg Hartikainen is a big kid who can win battles and drive to the net (we saw a beauty example early in his NHL career) and he scored pretty well for the Barons. He doesn't have big time speed but brings some nice things to his game. His 42 points represents 17.5% of the Barons offense, which is a nice number.
- C Jarret Stoll (02-03 Hamilton Bulldogs) 76gp, 21-33-54 .711ppg Although the PPG is higher and Stoll is a center, there are some good things about this comparable. Stoll played on a very strong team (this was a shared team with the Habs) so the number may be inflated a little. Also, footspeed was also an issue with Stoll and he's had a solid career (if sidelined some by concussion problems). His 54 points in 02-03 represents 20% of the Bulldog offense that season, and he's an interesting comp for Hartikainen.
- LW Jason Chimera (99-00 Hamilton Bulldogs). 78gp, 15-13-28 .359ppg One of the things we need to factor in (without being able to) is playing time. Chimera played a full season but one doubts he was seeing a lot of PP opportunities. The speed issue is the other roadblock for this comp, but I think it's worth listing him here. Hartikainen was far superior to Chimera as a 20-year old rookie but Chimera's improvement was impressive over the following seasons and of course he's had an NHL career. His 28 points represent 12.8% of Bulldog offense.
- RW Kyle Brodziak (04-05 Edmonton Roadrunners) 56gp, 6-26-32 .571 His AHL debut at 20 came on a very poor offensive team, and his 32 points reprsent 18.6% of the Roadrunner offense. His slow and steady rise through the organizational depth chart was given a huge boost when he arrived in TC fall 2007 in top condition and with an attitude that suggested he belonged. I hesitate to use him as a comp because his career path was unusual, but do believe that original team was so bad that Brodziak's offensive ability took some time (and a better team) to establish itself at the pro level.
I think the Stoll comp is the strongest, and we know that he has in fact been a top 6F for much of his NHL career. I think it's reasonable to suggest that Hartikainen could emerge as a legit top 6F on an NHL team.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
It could mean all kinds of things. It could force a move to center for Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle or Magnus Paajarvi. It could mean Ryan Smyth doesn't get a contract next summer, it could mean Ales Hemsky is dealt sooner than later and it could mean that someone steals Linus Omark before the Oilers discover how good he is.
However, I don't think there's much bad news about Teemu Hartikainen. If he is sent to Okla City this fall and continues to rip it up, the Oilers hand will be forced.
The AHL team that produced Linus Omark and Jeff Petry a year ago is ready to offload another gem.