I dreamed you paid your dues in Canada, and left me to come through
I headed there right away, I knew exactly just what to do
These dreams of you, so real and so true
This is Teemu Hartikainen. He’s among the very best rookies in the American Hockey League. His 15 goals and 34 points rank him 7th among AHL rookies, and several of the men ranked ahead of him are older prospects (college men like Colin Greening). I don’t know if playing in the NHL has been a lifelong dream for Hartikainen, but every athlete wants to play at the highest level and the young Finn is right on the cusp of being called to the show.
With the NHL trade deadline approaching, several OKC Barons might be getting a phonecall next Monday (28th is the deadline). Here are the likely candidates for a post-deadline recall:
- D Jeff Petry: Lost his confidence with the Oilers after a fine run, he’s been splendid since being sent out (2gp, 0-1-1 +3) and is extremely likely to be get a phonecall.
- C Ryan O’Marra: The current group at center in the NHL is Horcoff, Gagner, Cogliano and Reddox (with Fraser a recent HS). If the Oilers make a move here and need a center for a depth line, O’Marra could get the call.
- D Shawn Belle: He’s not scoring at all now, suspect Belle is no longer a big PP option (a large percentage of a defenseman’s offense comes from time on the PP). If the Oilers are considering him for next season they may want to get a look at him in the last 15 games.
- C Milan Kytnar: A long shot (what with O’Marra in the way and the NHL team 5 deep at C) but he’s played well and moved up the depth chart in a big way. The organization may want to reward him with a cup of Joe.
- C Chris Vande Velde: A long season enters the stretch run and there are some encouraging signs for the big man. In the last 3 AHL games for OKC, VV is 2-0-2 +2 (although one of those goals was an EN). The organization may feel a quick look-see for the older prospect might ignite something for next season. He’s too old to be struggling in the AHL.
- D Alex Plante: One gets the feeling that Plante has not impressed the coach at times this season, but he’s a big man learning a tough trade. In his last 9 games he’s 0-2-2 +3 and anecdotal evidence (Geowal liked him at the Heat game in CGY) tells us he’s playing well. Plante got a 4 game cup of coffee a year ago, he might get a similar look this season.
Candidates for trade from the big club include Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Jim Vandermeer, Ladislav Smid and others. The return in many cases will be picks and in others not-ready-for-NHL prospects. For the 6 men I’ve listed here, it might be a chance to have their dream come true.