November 26 2012 11:22AM
With gloomy pictures of Tyler Pitlick and Curtis Hamilton painted over the first two parts of this series, for the third piece I decided to focus on a player who I have generally felt has better career prospects. Teemu Hartikainen is stylistically a good fit for the needs of the current Oilers – does he have enough game to take a spot on a scoring line?
Career Probabilities is a new series that attempts to place a likelihood on Oilers’ prospects reaching a given career threshold. For the concept, please see the first post in the series.
First, a quick note on this series: despite the fact htat I'm presenting a range of probabilities on the bottom, there's nothing terribly complex about what I'm doing - ultimately I'm just looking at a bunch of guys with similar career arcs and then stating my opinion. I don't claim that this is the definitive way to do this sort of evaluation; it's simply one of the methods I use.
I expected to find a number of players comparable to Teemu Hartikainen, but was quite surprised not to discover a single one that followed his career curve over the 12 years I looked through. Ultimately, I was forced to compromise and include any player drafted out of Europe who came over to North America at the same age and had broadly similar scoring totals.
The following list shows Hartikainen’s production over the past three seasons along with imports who had similar AHL scoring totals:
Criteria: Drafted after the 100th overall selection between 1995 and 2007, height greater than 70 inches, broadly similar scoring rates at the same level at the same age.
The list is an interesting one because even at this stage of these players’ careers – we are looking up to four years after they were drafted – a variety of outcomes are possible. Three of these guys ended up having worse NHL careers than Hartikainen’s already managed. On the other end of the scale are bona fide NHL’ers like Jannik Hansen, Patric Hornqvist and Martin Erat.
Because we’re dealing with statistical comparisons and looking at broad totals, the players on this list aren’t good stylistic comparables – Martin Erat, for example, is a substantially different player than Teemu Hartikainen. Hornqvist, Hansen and Vladimir Orszagh are better stylistic fits, though Hansen’s a better skater and Orszagh wasn’t as good with the puck as Hartikainen is.
Hartikainen’s unique skill-set and career path make him difficult to pin down with this sort of exercise.
With that said, here is my assessment of his career probabilities:
The best case scenario from the short list is a career similar to Martin Erat’s, though I tend to dismiss that simply because Erat does not compare well stylistically to Hartikainen. Among the players that do compare fairly well, Patric Hornqvist stands out – he’s now 263 games into his NHL career and has scored 20+ goals in each of the last three seasons, including one season with 30 goals and 51 points. Hornqvist is a higher-volume shooter than Hartikainen but Hartikainen’s a better percentage shooter at the AHL level. I like Hornqvist as a reasonable outer marker for Hartikainen.
My expectation, however, is that Hartikainen comes in halfway between Hornqvist and another guy who spent time in Nashville, Vladimir Orszagh. Hornqvist has been a 25-goal/45-point scorer for the Predators; for three seasons in the early 2000’s Orszagh was a reliable 15-goal/35-point man. I picture Hartikainen scoring at a 20-goal/40 point pace in his prime.
Most likely outcome: Big forward whose scoring makes him a strong fit for a top-nine NHL-role; somewhere between Vladimir Orszagh and a more physical Patric Hornqvist.
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