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, Sportsnet, 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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#51 15w40
June 10 2013, 04:29PM
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Short term from a trade standpoint, it doesn't help his value if they were going to use him for a deal.

Long term it may be helpful. They couldn't hide him in the AHL any more with waivers now being a factor and one has to think he is going to get decent ice time in the KHL.

He may just round into form over there - or he might not.

Look at Mark Giordanno - he came back from the KHL and was a real steady player.

I'm sure he has an out clause - or if he doesn't his agent isn't doing his job.

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#52 The Other Ron Burgundy
June 10 2013, 04:33PM
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Spaceman Spiff wrote:

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.

Jiri Hudler did this with the Wings a few years back - actually worked out for him and the team as he got to play in more of an offensive role than he would have had in Detroit. Came back for a couple years to Detroit before he got bad career advice and signed on with the Shames.

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#53 MKE
June 10 2013, 04:35PM
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15w40 wrote:

Short term from a trade standpoint, it doesn't help his value if they were going to use him for a deal.

Long term it may be helpful. They couldn't hide him in the AHL any more with waivers now being a factor and one has to think he is going to get decent ice time in the KHL.

He may just round into form over there - or he might not.

Look at Mark Giordanno - he came back from the KHL and was a real steady player.

I'm sure he has an out clause - or if he doesn't his agent isn't doing his job.

Depends how you look at it. If you have a team that thinks he has upside, you don't burn a contract on him, someone else is paying him, and he gets to continue to develop.

For some teams that would actually be a bonus

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#54 Fresh Mess
June 10 2013, 04:55PM
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No big loss. He was not an NHL player.

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#55 Walter Sobchak
June 10 2013, 05:02PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

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.

No, I don't believe it does Soup, I don't think the KHL is a better league then the AHL, maybe better players but the game is completely different.

Hartikainen biggest fault was being competitive and using his skill set, the Barons and Oilers both gave him premium ice time and line mates.

When you get benched at the AHL level and the coach goes on record as saying the player constantly needed motivation, then It's not a development issue and I'm not sure any league will help.

The KHL is a more passive league and if that's Hartikainen thinking then bye.

I got ripped a lot when I said the player was a wash last season. I feel a little redeemed but can't help getting pissed that the Oilers invested time in such a unmotivated individual.

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#56 TeddyTurnbuckle
June 10 2013, 06:21PM
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I want this type of player in his role to be a hard nosed canadian type player who doesn't back down in scrums. I don't think Harti can be that guy. He only gets praise in Edmonton because he is one of the only guys over 200 lbs in the top nine when he is playing. Maybe when he is 25 he will be better.

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#57 Quicksilver ballet
June 10 2013, 07:11PM
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MKE wrote:

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.

Drafting goalies has become a farce in recent yrs. Who wants to wait 5-7 yrs to see if a kid developes. Best just grab the more mature free agents from across the pond, without all that start up investment.

Bickell, not sold on him. There's a big difference between a player who had a good year, and a good player. I credit his sudden surge to his linemates, plain and simple. Who wouldn't want to sit in front of the net and play with Toews and Kane.

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#58 mike
June 10 2013, 07:34PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

No big loss. He was not an NHL player.

Agree,Too soft.Mental make up of a marshmellow. A poor mans Penner.

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#59 MKE
June 10 2013, 10:08PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Drafting goalies has become a farce in recent yrs. Who wants to wait 5-7 yrs to see if a kid developes. Best just grab the more mature free agents from across the pond, without all that start up investment.

Bickell, not sold on him. There's a big difference between a player who had a good year, and a good player. I credit his sudden surge to his linemates, plain and simple. Who wouldn't want to sit in front of the net and play with Toews and Kane.

Before you were implying that if a guy didnt pan out after three years to trash him. I was pointing out that some guys do take more time.

Bickle is good enough to play in nhl. He took longer then three years to develop. That was the point.

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#60 NewAgeSys
June 10 2013, 11:33PM
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Not enough skill and not enough grit to offset the lack of skill.

Perfect fit for the KHL, and not the AHL.

Simply not a fit for the bottom six template and no chance to realisticlly break into the top 6 even in a limited role at the NHL level.

There are a lot of places to play hockey in todays world.

He was a good man for us while he was here, good luck to him.

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#61 toprightcorner
June 11 2013, 08:13AM
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I am kind of glad that Hartikainen signed in the KHL. IMO, he has never showed any consistency to work hard in the corner or along the boards at the NHL level. I don't think it is a natural part of his game and therefore may never be a part of his game.

If he can prove he can be consistent playing a power forward style, then great but I don't think that will happen. Everyone knows how badly we need a power forward that they are fooling themselves as to what his skills and potential actually are. He will never be the answer unless you want a good 4th liner that bangs and can chip in.

As far as Vancouver taking their time to hire a coach, it is that same old "we are the best" attitude assuming guys will wait for them to make a decision before accepting elsewhere. They will likely take too long and the better coaches will have already signed and then they will end up with their third choice.

That's what I love about MacT, he makes a decision and he acts immediately, that will pay off in spades in the future

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