Report: Teemu Hartikainen signs in the KHL

Jonathan Willis
June 10 2013 12:50PM

 

According to the highly reliable Craig Custance of ESPN, Oilers forward Teemu Hartikainen will play in the KHL next season.

This is an extremely surprising development. Despite the fact that Hartikainen is a restricted free agent, the expectation was that he would play a role in the NHL for the Oilers this season. He's coming off an entry-level contract where he established himself as a contender for NHL work, though last season he failed to take advantage of an opportunity to cement himself in a top-nine role on the roster and was likely bound for a depth role to start 2013-14.

Despite a disappointing season, Hartikainen was still well-placed for NHL advancement. His waiver exemption had expired, meaning that the Oilers could not have re-assigned him to Oklahoma City without allowing the other 29 teams a chance to claim him - something they almost certainly would not have done. The results were lacking in a lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, but Hartikainen's combination of size (6'1", 215 pounds) and ability (his work in the AHL has been excellent) made him an intriguing prospect for the Oilers. 

There has yet to be any official reaction from the Oilers organization - or, for that matter, independent confirmation of the move - but there are essentially two different ways of looking at this. If Hartikainen was a player the team had firm plans for and who they felt could be an asset in the NHL this year, than this is an unfortunate loss for the team. If, on the other hand, he was the kind of player they were ambivalent about and were only planning to keep on the NHL roster because of waiver rules, a year in Russia could actually turn out to be a benefit - it gives Hartikainen another year to show what he can do (in a more difficult league than the AHL) and clears a roster spot for the team.

Right now, the only thing that is certain is that this opens yet another spot on a 2013-14 Oilers roster that was already looking at a significant transformation.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Canucks Army, Thomas Drance makes the argument that Vancouver might be able to learn a little from old employee Craig MacTavish when it comes to making a coaching hire

Time will tell if the Oilers were too hasty, or if the Canucks were too dithering, in their respective pursuits of Dallas Eakins. Going forward, however, I think Canucks management needs to seriously consider whether their preternaturally patient approach to pretty much everything is borne of prudence, or of indecision.

Click the link above to read the whole piece, or feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Kgo
June 10 2013, 12:52PM
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Too much of a wuss to handle his role in the NA game

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#2 The Real Scuba Steve
June 10 2013, 12:55PM
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Kgo wrote:

Too much of a wuss to handle his role in the NA game

Maybe he is sick of losing and a revolving door of head coaches come in every year.

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#3 Harlie
June 10 2013, 12:58PM
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Good skill, big body, not enough compete.

Have fun on the plane rides Teemu, hope you have a rabbit foot with you.

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#4 Walter Sobchak
June 10 2013, 01:00PM
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@Kgo

Soft player for his skill set, see ya don't let the door hit you on the way out!

I never ever liked this payer.

I do feel bad for Lowetide though, no joke. He really believes in this kid.

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#5 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
June 10 2013, 01:03PM
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I had high hopes for him. Idiot.

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#6 Racki
June 10 2013, 01:04PM
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Knowing now that he had to clear waivers to be assigned to Oklahoma, I'm happy he signed with the KHL.. hope he becomes a better player there.

I think he's way overrated by Oilers fans. Don't get me wrong, I like him.. but he has work to do before he'll make the kind of impact we need on this team right now.

Maybe after a year in the KHL he'll find some scoring hands.

I have a feeling the decision to play in KHL was mutual between Harti and Oilers (given waiver eligibility)

There also is a chance that he has an out clause, maybe? (if you can do that mid season??)

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#7 oilman3
June 10 2013, 01:10PM
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the competition may be better in the khl, but unless i'm mistaken, i don't feel that it's a good place for him to hone the kind of skills that will make him an nhl regular. although he needs to develop some scoring ability, he is the kind of guy who needs to consistently get dirty goals and throw his weight around. the khl is not exactly a haven for grinders.

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#8 MAC962
June 10 2013, 01:13PM
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No Tornadoes in Russia. Just frostbite . SCARED the beejessus out of him i think.

Good luck Teemu, Bad decision in my opinion.

Only you know the real reason.

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#9 madjam
June 10 2013, 01:14PM
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Probably a Teemu decision to go play a more dominate role closer to home and probably more money . Can hardly blame him if Oilers were not going to give him a one way contract . How long do we own his rights for if he goes to KHL ? Likeable and sorry to see him go .

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#10 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
June 10 2013, 01:14PM
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Racki wrote:

Knowing now that he had to clear waivers to be assigned to Oklahoma, I'm happy he signed with the KHL.. hope he becomes a better player there.

I think he's way overrated by Oilers fans. Don't get me wrong, I like him.. but he has work to do before he'll make the kind of impact we need on this team right now.

Maybe after a year in the KHL he'll find some scoring hands.

I have a feeling the decision to play in KHL was mutual between Harti and Oilers (given waiver eligibility)

There also is a chance that he has an out clause, maybe? (if you can do that mid season??)

What work does he have to do before he can make an impact on the Oilers?

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#11 A-Mc
June 10 2013, 01:14PM
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i just wish the oilers could have traded him as part of a package before he decided to go to the KHL. That's the least he could do for us!

boooo

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#12 Ducey
June 10 2013, 01:16PM
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This actually might be a good thing.

He is kind of a AAAA player (baseball term for guys too good for AAA but who can't stick in the majors). He sees himself as a scorer. The team sees him as a checker.

A year in the KHL should give him a chance to play a level above the AHL. If he improves he can then come back to the Oilers.

The Oilers would still own his rights. Right?

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#13 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
June 10 2013, 01:17PM
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A-Mc wrote:

i just wish the oilers could have traded him as part of a package before he decided to go to the KHL. That's the least he could do for us!

boooo

Excellent idea!

They can still trade his rights. Value may have just dropped a little, but I bet there'd be a few teams interested based on his AHL performance.

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#14 A-Mc
June 10 2013, 01:17PM
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Ducey wrote:

This actually might be a good thing.

He is kind of a AAAA player (baseball term for guys too good for AAA but who can't stick in the majors). He sees himself as a scorer. The team sees him as a checker.

A year in the KHL should give him a chance to play a level above the AHL. If he improves he can then come back to the Oilers.

The Oilers would still own his rights. Right?

I Would assume so. Isn't this like the Radulov situation?

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#15 Lochenzo
June 10 2013, 01:18PM
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I think you're right. Teemu didn't show enought to play in Edmonton consistently. He had his moments and we see him being an effective player one day. But give him a year in the KHL to play with top talent. If he got benched here, then what do you do with him? Can't send him to the AHL.

Go out and sign an NHL winger with size and experience to help the club now. We can revisit what to do with Teemu next summer.

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#16 A-Mc
June 10 2013, 01:19PM
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Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy! wrote:

Excellent idea!

They can still trade his rights. Value may have just dropped a little, but I bet there'd be a few teams interested based on his AHL performance.

I imagine the flexibility to make that happen would rest on the kind of contract he signed with Ufa.

If he's stuck there for 5+ years, no one is going to trade for his rights. But if the contract ends up being 1-2 years with an Out clause after the first year, then there definitely could be value there!

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#18 aeiouY
June 10 2013, 01:20PM
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Huge mistake to let this guy walk. Hopefully this isnt' the last we hear from Teemu as an oiler. I think this kid was just scratching the surface of what he is going to be....

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=112587

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#19 Racki
June 10 2013, 01:25PM
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Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy! wrote:

What work does he have to do before he can make an impact on the Oilers?

Putting up some numbers would be nice. You kind of have to do a little more out there than exist, and bang bodies. I like him, I just don't think he's an NHL player yet. If he wasn't waiver eligible, he'd be bouncing between AHL/NHL as he tried to prove himself.

He's the opposite of some of our younger starts.. needs to learn how to play WITH the puck (his game without it isn't too bad).

Right now I'd prefer we stock this team up with some quality bottom six players.

TO anyone thinking we let a player walk or lost him.. I doubt it. I am betting that it was a joint decision with the Oilers, since he would need waivers to play in AHL and is far from the best option for our bottom six right now (maybe one of the best on our weak-a-- team, but replaceable for now by free agency).

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#20 Ducey
June 10 2013, 01:25PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The Oilers will still own Hartikainen's rights as I understand it - he's a restricted free agent and they'll have him sowed up in the NHL for a number of years. It's not like the Radulov situation because he isn't currently under contract - it's more like the Omark situation.

Another benefit is that he won't take up a spot on the 50 contract list. Not a huge factor normally but this may have stopped a waiver claim or two last year.

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#21 A-Mc
June 10 2013, 01:26PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The Oilers will still own Hartikainen's rights as I understand it - he's a restricted free agent and they'll have him sowed up in the NHL for a number of years. It's not like the Radulov situation because he isn't currently under contract - it's more like the Omark situation.

Omark and Harti to PIT for Malkin!

#OMARKTRADEPROPOSAL

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#22 The Soup Fascist
June 10 2013, 01:27PM
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I am fine with him getting some seasoning away from the NHL but does the KHL offer the best of learning environments IF the end game is the NHL?

Big ice, more wide open play and less board work would not seem to be offer the challenges Harti needs to work on to improve his NHL game. I am not sure the KHL will be better for his development than OKC even though there is more talent.

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#23 Will
June 10 2013, 01:27PM
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This opens up room for Omark to return. Oh yeah!

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#24 A-Mc
June 10 2013, 01:28PM
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Will wrote:

This opens up room for Omark to return. Oh yeah!

Omark could play keep away better than anybody! BRING HIM BACK!

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#25 vetinari
June 10 2013, 01:33PM
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Liked the kid but he needed to work on consistency at the NHL level, especially with his physical game. My hope is that he gets some further development in the KHL and comes back to Edmonton in a year or two better developed.

As for the roster spot, does this open the door to a return of Jones? Or would the Oilers maybe bring back Omark for another look? I know that Harti and Omark are different types of players but that 3rd and 4th line is going to need some bodies on it and we can't trade for 6 to 8 new players without giving something major up.

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#26 jake
June 10 2013, 01:34PM
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MAC962 wrote:

No Tornadoes in Russia. Just frostbite . SCARED the beejessus out of him i think.

Good luck Teemu, Bad decision in my opinion.

Only you know the real reason.

Lol, not sure I would hang around Dodge either. I watched that first tornado live on CNN that day....no thanks.....was like a leaf blower blowing a path through a yard full of leaves.

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#27 Ducey
June 10 2013, 01:36PM
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Will wrote:

This opens up room for Omark to return. Oh yeah!

I could see Omark doing a reasonable facsimile of Hemsky. Then again, the Oilers are trying to get away from those types of players.

Omark seems to be the opposite of what MacT is trying to bring in. More defence and grit. Fewer offensive minded floaters.

He's a goner. Get over it.

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#28 Ryan2
June 10 2013, 02:15PM
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I am not surprised. He needs to work on his footspeed and compete level to play in the NHL. His hockey sense is also suspect IMHO as well. I could never see why everyone here was anointing him as the next big 1st line winger for the team.

Like I said when everyone was willing to dump MPS for Teemu at the beginning of this season, MPS was the better NHL player/prospect.

Looking at it from his perspective, if Ufa offered you a few million guaranteed vs. the likelihood of playing in the minors another season or two at a pittance, what would you do? I would take the money, develop my game further over there, and look at coming back when I was 25 or 26 and more consistent.

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#29 Sanaa Montana
June 10 2013, 02:20PM
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Harlie wrote:

Good skill, big body, not enough compete.

Have fun on the plane rides Teemu, hope you have a rabbit foot with you.

!

I hope someone you love forgets their rabbit foot and dies in a plane crash, then you come on here and make a joke about it to us.

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#30 Rama Lama
June 10 2013, 02:26PM
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According to Todd Nelson........Harti needed to be continuously motivated to be effective.

This is very troubling and not a very good situation for a coach to manage. If you need to get motivated to play in the NHL, you do not belong in the NHL.

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#31 Will
June 10 2013, 02:40PM
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Ducey wrote:

I could see Omark doing a reasonable facsimile of Hemsky. Then again, the Oilers are trying to get away from those types of players.

Omark seems to be the opposite of what MacT is trying to bring in. More defence and grit. Fewer offensive minded floaters.

He's a goner. Get over it.

I was joking. I don't want Omark back, I do want Hemsky gone. I am over it.

I do like though, that for an instant you gave this comment a curmudgeon of credit and actually put forward an argument to plausibly bring him back.

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#32 Sanaa Montana
June 10 2013, 02:43PM
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"It is not negotiable, they will eventually buy in." Dallas Eakins

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#33 Racki
June 10 2013, 02:43PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

According to Todd Nelson........Harti needed to be continuously motivated to be effective.

This is very troubling and not a very good situation for a coach to manage. If you need to get motivated to play in the NHL, you do not belong in the NHL.

I hadn't heard that quote, but that is interesting, and I totally agree with your last sentence.

I will say it ad nauseum, but this guy was way overrated. Potential... yes... but not an NHLer yet. The more we toss experiments in the line up, the more chance we're going to be picking near the top again in 2014.

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#34 Randaman
June 10 2013, 02:52PM
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Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy! wrote:

What work does he have to do before he can make an impact on the Oilers?

It's called GRIT!! Not for a shift or two but the whole season. If he feels that he is worthy of a top 6 spot he has been getting some bad advice. Toughen up and come back hungry

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#35 Ducey
June 10 2013, 02:54PM
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Will wrote:

I was joking. I don't want Omark back, I do want Hemsky gone. I am over it.

I do like though, that for an instant you gave this comment a curmudgeon of credit and actually put forward an argument to plausibly bring him back.

Sorry. My sarcasm detector is in the shop.

I do think Omark could put up close to 40 pts in a full sched if he was getting PP and 2nd line time.

He would likely be on for about 60 pts against, though.

He could make a living in NSH or somewhere they can afford to give him easy minutes to get some extra offense. All the gravy is spoken for in EDM.

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#36 Spaceman Spiff
June 10 2013, 02:57PM
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Just wondering if anyone knows how this would affect his NHL contract if/when he comes back?

In other words, when he's done over there, what contract-year would he be in?

Realize it's a dumb question - just wondering if he can use the KHL to burn years off of the NHL deal he's on right now (without earning any NHL money, obviously).

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#37 The Beaker
June 10 2013, 03:00PM
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Spaceman Spiff wrote:

Just wondering if anyone knows how this would affect his NHL contract if/when he comes back?

In other words, when he's done over there, what contract-year would he be in?

Realize it's a dumb question - just wondering if he can use the KHL to burn years off of the NHL deal he's on right now (without earning any NHL money, obviously).

He's not on a deal right now. He can burn years towards UFA though as I understand it.

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#38 RexLibris
June 10 2013, 03:13PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The Oilers will still own Hartikainen's rights as I understand it - he's a restricted free agent and they'll have him sowed up in the NHL for a number of years. It's not like the Radulov situation because he isn't currently under contract - it's more like the Omark situation.

This is what I was thinking.

The pros are that he can continue to develop while essentially putting his contract situation on "pause".

The cons are that the Oilers have to forego any input into his development and training.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Oilers dealt him even as soon as this June's draft.

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#39 oilers2k10
June 10 2013, 03:17PM
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I wonder how much they're paying him

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#40 CaptainLander
June 10 2013, 03:25PM
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Could be an affective development tool. Learns a different way to play the game. Some players have a change to their game after returning from a lockout. Knowing he can't go to the AHL without clearing waivers and likely not having a role with the big club it is a best of both worlds. Something tells me it is not that last we see of this guy. He seems to have all the tools just can't bridge that gap of AHL to NHL. Granted there a lot of people in the AHL that fit this description.

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#41 Manfly
June 10 2013, 03:36PM
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meh. i was never a big fan. if he never came back, i'd be OK with it. maybe this opens the door for Petrell to stay? i thought he played well last year. big guy and worked hard and was not easy to knock off the puck.

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#42 MKE
June 10 2013, 03:46PM
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Eakins said it today. The Oilers have the hardest thing to get. High end talent.

I have every confidence in the current management staff to find the right pieces to compliment this high end talent.

Why? Because they have done it before.

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#43 MKE
June 10 2013, 03:49PM
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Losing for several years and getting high picks was the best thing that could have happened to this team.

You need high end talent to win.

You need grit, but that's easier to find then high end talent.

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#44 David S
June 10 2013, 03:55PM
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RexLibris wrote:

This is what I was thinking.

The pros are that he can continue to develop while essentially putting his contract situation on "pause".

The cons are that the Oilers have to forego any input into his development and training.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Oilers dealt him even as soon as this June's draft.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Oilers told him he wasn't going to be in their plans unless he took some big steps forward. In that case he takes the KHL money, which easily has to be ten times as much as he's making with the Barons.

If his game comes around in the KHL he can transition back. If not, at least he's making Wanye dollahs.

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#45 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 10 2013, 03:58PM
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He had 3 yrs to show he belongs. Guys like him you can pick up at Walmart during the summer......not much of a loss at all.

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#46 pelhem grenville
June 10 2013, 04:10PM
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...jury was out on this kid

...I guess the verdict is NOT good enough for the NHL ...yet...greed surely played a factor as well...keep ur head up kid!

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#47 Spaceman Spiff
June 10 2013, 04:14PM
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RexLibris wrote:

This is what I was thinking.

The pros are that he can continue to develop while essentially putting his contract situation on "pause".

The cons are that the Oilers have to forego any input into his development and training.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Oilers dealt him even as soon as this June's draft.

Thanks for the answer. I'm not even sure if I understood the question and I'm the guy who asked it. LOL

Otherwise, I don't see Harski's upcoming KHL adventure as one of those "years-abroad" that you do between high school and university ... or university and real-life. He's gotta be done as an Oiler, no?

I really don’t see MacT reacting very well to this. Harski’s a prospect that the Oilers have invested a lot of time in and I think MacT will take a hard-line tack on his defection…because that’s essentially what it is.

Think about it: He’s bolting an NHL team for a league that still uses old Soviet-era Aeroflot planes to ferry its players across the same Siberian tundra that defeated Napoleon and Hitler. That’s a slap in the face.

I could be totally wrong – but, other than Alexander Radulov, who came back to Nashville (briefly), I don’t know of any other NHL player who went away for a year or two and came back to the same team (will stand corrected).

I’m actually wondering if this isn’t some sort of reaction to the coaching announcement. Maybe Harski really liked playing for Krueger and now that he’s gone, Harski is figuring he’ll run for the sure money in Russia rather than do another up/down year in the NHL/AHL with a coach who may or may not be a hard-ass.

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#48 Maverick
June 10 2013, 04:16PM
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For a 6th round pick #163 overall in the 2008 draft he has played 52 NHL games. That is better than some other players chosen earlier in the draft. Even if he never plays another NHL game he can say he played more than 50 games in the NHL, not too many 6th round picks can say that.

Wish him well, but might have been a non-factor in Edmonton going forward. Does this open the door to resign Ryan Jones??

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#49 MKE
June 10 2013, 04:20PM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

Some guys take longer to develop. See Brian Bickell. Took him 6 years to be good enough.

Petry took 5.

That Tim Thomas guy was a real smuck. What a bust he was...after three years.

Too bad there is no such thing as a late bloomer.*rolls eyes*

Should all guys be taken out to a field and shot if they don't make it after three years?

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#50 MKE
June 10 2013, 04:25PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

He had 3 yrs to show he belongs. Guys like him you can pick up at Walmart during the summer......not much of a loss at all.

Most goalies also take longer then 3 years to develop.

And actually you can't just pick up guys with size and speed who can play in your top 6 just anywhere.

Guys like that don't grow on trees.

You know....its why every team in the NHL is looking for them. Year after year.

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