TEEMU HARTIKAINEN: A STEP BACK FOR HARSKI?

If I was putting together the next edition of the Edmonton Oilers, Teemu Hartikainen would be on the 23-man roster. But I’m not, and I doubt he will be when the 2011-12 season opens, despite what I considered an impressive debut last season.

In that regard, as in starting the year on the Oilers roster, this season could be perceived as something of a step back for the 21-year-old Finnish winger known in the dressing room as Harski.

Despite turning some heads in 12 games with the Oilers last season, a stretch in which he scored 3-2-5 and went minus-3 while averaging 17:25 of ice time a game. when I look at Edmonton’s depth chart, I see Hartikainen destined for a ticket to Oklahoma City.

As good a showing as Hartikainen had when summoned to fill one of the holes in a roster riddled by injuries, I was hoping to see more of him this season. I don’t see that being the case now unless the injury bug strikes early and often in pre-season.

Where does he fit?

TOO MUCH DEPTH?

It seems laughable, and is, to suggest that a team that finished 30th for a second season in a row has too much depth to take a long look at a big-bodied banger with some skill like Hartikainen.

It’s more a case of too many bodies, as opposed to too much proven depth, with the addition of necessary veteran components in Ryan Smyth and Eric Belanger and toughness in Ben Eager and Darcy Hordichuk to find room for the six-foot-three, 215-pound Finn.

If coach Tom Renney keeps 14 forwards to start the year, how does he find a place for Hartikainen? On left wing, there’s Taylor Hall, Smyth, Magnus Paajarvi and Eager.

Down the middle, it looks like Sam Gagner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shawn Horcoff and Belanger with Anton Lander and Gilbert Brule contesting the position. While it’s not guaranteed Nugent-Hopkins will be here beyond nine games, I don’t see Hartikainen in the middle.

On the right side. it stacks up as Ales Hemsky, Jordan Eberle, Linus Omark and Ryan Jones, no?

At this point, Hartikainen projects as a bottom-six forward, so who from the mix of Paajarvi and Eager, Horcoff and Belanger or Omark and Jones does he displace?

NO HURRY

I’m not talking about trying to fast-track Hartikainen. Despite how he looked at the end of last season, a dozen NHL games doesn’t give fans or coaches a clear or complete picture. He is, again, only 21. But, like I said, what I saw last season left me wanting more.

Contract situations and waiver considerations being what they are, it looks like those who feel the same way, like Hartikainen, will have to wait, unless he so clearly outperforms somebody ahead of him, there’s no choice but to keep him.

Even if he does, we’ve seen how that often doesn’t change the pre-determined pecking order going into training camp and pre-season — think Omark a year ago — that is laid out on the organizational chart on the wall in the coaching office at Rexall Place.

My guess is the ETA on Hartikainen is likely closer to January than it is October. That’s not necessarily a developmental-derailer or a big blow, assuming somebody takes Hartikainen aside and explains the lay of the land, which obviously wasn’t done to Omark’s satisfaction a year ago.

Once again, patience is the word of the day.

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

  • Quicksilver ballet

    This editing of the first post thing could really start to catch on. I’m tempted to throw myself under the bus and see what Rueben has in store for me.

      • Craig1981

        I am yet to step out of line and have Mr. Brownlee give me a stern talk with a poetic (and slightly arrogant) post. But I do tell you, I’m not looking forward to it…….not one little bit. :S

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Haven’t you ever wanted to wake a sleeping bear David?

        Could be fun, taking a walk on the wild side is as good as a rest. There’s alot of fun to be had if you act first and think later, everyday can be Friday or Saturday if you want it to be.

        • My wife’s cousin, who I know quite well, was pipelining when their backhoe ripped the top off of a hibernating bear’s den. The bear was quite groggy and so the cuz took this as a sign that he should creep up on the bear. He got his hand within a foot of giving the bear a noogie before what few brain cells he has left told him that this wasn’t the best idea that he had ever had. Somehow, with ideas like that, he’s still around.

    • Shapeman

      I agree with the idea but unless someone’s injured you wouldn’t be able to call up someone to replace an unmotivated vet because there isn’t roster space. You would have to use a player that is currently a healthy scratch. Or send your scratches down if they aren’t waiver eligibile or you don’t care and call up some young’uns you want a look at.

  • yawto

    In my opinion, Hemmers future with Oilers hinges on how Omark does this year. Last year Omarks PP chances/60 were far superior, so he’s already showing some signs of replacement. His scoring per 60 is way of Hemmers marks but he was a rookie (old for a rookie) but a rookie no less, playing with more inexperienced help MPS. If Omark can pull those scoring rates up, I think you might see the Oilers keep him over Hemmer. He’s younger, cheaper, more creative and if he can be comparably EFFECTIVE this year; Ales is gone. He’s got a higher trade value then Omark and could be a heck of a trade piece if he stays healthy and score at the same rate as last year. If Omark stagnates or doesn’t deliver, Hemmer gets a new contract and Omark packs his bags. That’s the way I’m seeing it at least. Note: I’m not saying Omark is better, i’m just saying Hemmer’s future depends on Omarks ability to make it a close race.

  • For God Sakes someone write an article. It’s coming down to arguing about the infamous FIST.

    For God Sakes Brownlee, it’s just the exuberance of youth, “Hey look at me I came in first”. This is a sports blog where being first means something. We live our lives vicariously. If you think its some weird sexual thing get your head out of the gutter, unless of course you can work in a clever double entendre.

    Yes, my Mother would go back and edit it just like she would say it’s silly to worry about being first. Let some other Kid come in first to make him feel good. You just sigh and realize – She just doesn’t get it!

  • May the fisters fist, the anti-fisters not, the writers write, and the editors edit. All is as it should be.

    Rookie training camp for my local WHL team this weekend! We’re getting close! WE’RE GETTING CLOSE!!!

    *drools with blank 1000-yard stare*

  • striatic

    agree hartikainen most likely does not make the roster out of training camp.

    he should be the first call up though, in case of trade or injury [at least on the wings] so he’ll see play for sure.

    same situation as omark last year.

    if i had to guess, i’d say 30 to 60 games played.

  • paul wodehouse

    …all riled up&wordy Q is…and t’think i was actually calling him MrTambelini after what i thought was a pretty descent draft (other than completely missing Coutourier)…but i’m back calling him our GM and i am hoping that this IS his last year, extension and all…keep up the good fight and remember what a wise old sage once said…

    “These are extraordinary times for Oilersnation”

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I hate to even appear like I am disagreeing with Quicksilver,but…I don’t know how you can pile on Tambo for not getting another lottery pick…who know’s what was offered/rejected/wanted/asked for…whatever…we got the prize…now have to cash it in…hope its still valid come september…