HARSKI: OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

Robin Brownlee
January 07 2013 07:27PM

One man's misfortune can be another's lucky break, and it's certainly shaping up as such for strapping Finnish forward Teemu Hartikainen as the Edmonton Oilers prepare to open training camp.

While the 22-year old winger would have had a shot at a roster spot this season because he brings dimensions lacking at forward – size and a measure of physicality combined with decent offensive instincts – Harski's chances of landing an NHL job improved with news Ryan Jones won't be ready to start the season after suffering an eye injury.

Having upped his stock with the Oklahoma City Barons by scoring 11-15-26 in 35 games, where and how Hartikainen might fit in with Jones out of the mix is an interesting question. He's shown enough sense around the net to lead some people to conclude he might be worth a look-see in the top-six. He's got enough grind in his game to play in the bottom six and maybe score a bit, too.

What to do with Harski?

COACH SAYS . . .

"His development has been strong in that he worked hard in the summer and early in the season he was really pushed to be a physical specimen down in Oklahoma City," coach Ralph Krueger told Jason Gregor today.

"He is an interesting option as we look to bring five forward lines and four sets of D into training camp with the injuries to Ryan Jones and Andy Sutton. We will need one defensemen and two forwards from Oklahoma City and Teemu is a good guess on your part for having an opportunity.

"Especially because he brings something unique to the table. Down on the power play in Oklahoma City, he was the net-front presence that allowed Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Arcobello and Justin Schultz to have so much success of late.

"So, there's been some interesting things that he's developed and grown in the direction we'd like to see and he also has a mean streak in him and can play tough physically, which is an important asset that we'll be needing in our line-up."

WHERE DOES HE FIT?

While I'm not so sure about the mean streak Krueger mentioned, there's no question, at six-foot-two and 215 pounds, Hartikainen is the kind mix of size and reasonable skill Krueger can put to use with this group of forwards.

With 5-5-10 in limited duty through 29 games with the Oilers, including three call-ups last season, we've seen glimpses of potential. Harski is neither simply a big-bodied glass-rattler nor is he a pure offensive player. He can score some. He bangs a bit. So, where does he fit? Depends.

I don't know if Krueger will plug rookie Nail Yakupov into the second line on left wing right away. If he doesn't, might Hartikainen start out playing with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky? If Yakupov gets the nod to start as the left winger on that line, then Hartikainen might be a good fit on the right side with Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff on the third line.

At this point in Hartikainen's young career the safe bet, and my inclination, would be to ease him in as primarily a third-line player – where Jones is best-suited – and then take it from there based on what Krueger sees.

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

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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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#51 OilClog
January 08 2013, 11:17AM
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Eberle for Larsson.. LOL joke of the day.

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#52 Walter Sobchak
January 08 2013, 11:24AM
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Nick wrote:

No backpeddling here. I would make the trade, I think the posters are wrong.

Eberle plays soft minutes and can be replaced, Larsson is going to be a #1 d-man in the NHL for a long time.

*Face Palm* my dear lord.

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#53 OilClog
January 08 2013, 11:34AM
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Randy wrote:

Oilers desperately need a physical winger in their top 9. Paajarvi doesn't bring that. Hartikainon does and he's put up better numbers in OKC. Oilers don't need another soft winger. Hartikainon reminds me a bit of Tomas Holmstrum.

The Oilers need a banger in the top 6.. which Teemu could be and yes MPS is more suited for a two way defensive forward role, he's shown this. Teemu has yet to prove that he can bang and push around the opposition at the NHL level in a top feature role.

MPS has proven to move the puck in the right direction with blistering speed that cuts through the ranks. He doesn't have the offensive flare as the rest, but I'd see more GA with Teemu on the ice in the same position.

We don't need Teemu out on the 3rd line making room for Horcoff and Smyth.. so if he can't crack the top 2 lines, or be able to still chip in a a productive 4th line role, he's better off in OKC learning how to better crack bodies on their top line. If MPS is the 3rd line two way winger of the future.. now is the future he won't learn that trade on a top line in OKC. He needs that experience playing along side the vets up North.

I like Teemu, I just don't see him being the coke machine answer to our needs. Our top 4 wingers Hall, Ebs, Hemsky, and Yak are much more talented, Smyth is still there and Eager if he wakes up and decides to play hockey would be better suited in the role.

Hopkins isn't going anywhere. I would be on the side that believes the club is desperately looking for that Wrecking ball Center. I would try and make ammends with Anahiem and Offer Gags, Teemu, and something for some sort of Signed Getzlaf. Teemu stock has never been higher, it's a sell high before the jury is out acquistion. I know it won't happen, but we're allowed to dream

MPS over Harti

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#54 Hammers
January 08 2013, 11:44AM
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OilClog wrote:

If its between Teemu and Magnus for the wing spot beside 10 and 94. MPS should get the nod, as it would appear to benefit his game more, being a two way winger. If Teemu can't crack the top 6 or contribute with little time on the forth line. Then to OKC with him, I'm on the side that MPS' speed and defensive ability will win out the day due to the Jones injury.

I totally agree with you . Magnus if its a 3rd line spot & Harski if its 4th line Or if Ralph has the last say it maybe both of them . What shape is Eager in?? Maybe Belanger with Pettrel & Hartski . That would give them some energy and Magnus with Horc & Smitty would be a great shut down line .

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#55 Nick
January 08 2013, 11:59AM
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Your not getting OEL or Doughty or Hedman or Pietrangelo for Eberle.

Larsson is more of a defensive defenceman and can't be compared to J Schultz.

If you had to trade between the top 3 oilers Hall , RNH, and Eberle.

Eberle would be my choice.

The reason this deal makes sense to me is NJ needs wingers they lost Parise. Oilers need a number 1 d-man.

Won't happen anyway but call me in 2yrs see if you disagree with me then.

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#56 Bruce
January 08 2013, 12:33PM
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@Rama Lama

Totally agree. Eager and Renney were miles apart and I think King Ralph will push the right buttons with him. I shudder when I think of the Columbus game but I don't think you'll see that again under RK

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#57 andrewmk20
January 08 2013, 12:39PM
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@Robin Brownlee

He has slightly different dimensions to his game from those two. His ability to hang onto the puck and take punishment in the corners is a valuable skill in the cycle game and he is a better front net presence than Grier or Moreau, who were crashers and chaos guys.

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#58 Light, Sweet, Crude
January 08 2013, 12:46PM
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@justDOit

Ya, I'll be the first to agree he was nothing special last year. I'd like to see him with a new bench boss for a few games before he is jettisoned is all. The Oilers are always on the search for a guy who fits his description. Maybe his time is up though. We'll see.

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Hope to see Harski in the opening line up. I like his compete level.

I don't think we're gonna see an improved Eager at all. I think we've seen what he can do. Great skater, not much else. HOpe I'm wrong though.

Some crazy talk going on here about trading Eberle..and for Larsson. I know Karate, but you seem to know caaraazy. On Eberle, does anyone know if any player has ever lead both AHL and NHL in scoring at the same time? It could happen, even for one or two games only..

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#60 A-Mc
January 08 2013, 01:08PM
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I havent seen enough of Harti to really know what he'll do at the NHL level. But at this point, the buzz around him and the way he fills a role that we are lacking in is putting him ahead of Magnus in my mind.

Poor Magnus just can't get his shi...stuff together.

Also, To those who support the trade of Eberle for anything but invincibility, You can go EFF yourself. KING Jordan of Eberle IS HERE TO STAY!

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#61 Bushed
January 08 2013, 01:12PM
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stevezie wrote:

Didn't Lowe get suspended his rookie year for stepping on a guy?

Quite possible.

I'm not saying he didn't have a temper, but I do recall the frustration of watching him wave his stick at wingers going past him along the boards many many times in his first year. It wasn't until later that he developed a much more consistent physical style of play, perhaps with Lee Fogolin as a role model.

Messier was the guy with a mean streak from day one.

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#62 Oilertown
January 08 2013, 03:58PM
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Nick wrote:

Your not getting OEL or Doughty or Hedman or Pietrangelo for Eberle.

Larsson is more of a defensive defenceman and can't be compared to J Schultz.

If you had to trade between the top 3 oilers Hall , RNH, and Eberle.

Eberle would be my choice.

The reason this deal makes sense to me is NJ needs wingers they lost Parise. Oilers need a number 1 d-man.

Won't happen anyway but call me in 2yrs see if you disagree with me then.

Time to come get your milk and cookies and take your afternoon nap son.

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#63 2004Z06
January 08 2013, 04:38PM
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I think Eager deserves a second chance as well, however I also believe he is a suspension magnet. anytime the guy tries to lay the body or fight a guy in defense of his teamates, he is going to be suspended. Are the Oilers going to cover his lost paychecks while he sits in the press box? I doubt it.

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#64 westcoastoil
January 08 2013, 05:56PM
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Spoke with some guys over the summer who player for Renney a number of years ago and while they like him as a person, they couldn't stand playing for him. Wound too tight, guys felt too restricted and over-coached. Didn't really have that inspiring quality.

With all the talk about the Fab 5, it's easy to forget how much fun it will be to see what (if anything) Krueger can bring to dislodge the shackles of losing.

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#65 Hair bag
January 08 2013, 11:35PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

you poor guy. i bet you still struggle with that second velcro strap on your shoe.

Lmfao

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#66 OilCountry00
January 09 2013, 01:03PM
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Nick wrote:

Your not getting OEL or Doughty or Hedman or Pietrangelo for Eberle.

Larsson is more of a defensive defenceman and can't be compared to J Schultz.

If you had to trade between the top 3 oilers Hall , RNH, and Eberle.

Eberle would be my choice.

The reason this deal makes sense to me is NJ needs wingers they lost Parise. Oilers need a number 1 d-man.

Won't happen anyway but call me in 2yrs see if you disagree with me then.

The notion of trading a lady bing candidate in just his second full season for a defenseman who was a healthy scratch during the playoffs is outlandish. Just because the guy went 4th overall doesn't qualify his as a number 1 defenceman. Klefbom is a high end prospect that will be in Edmonton next year. Patience Nick

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