Teemu Hartikainen got the call today, along with Lennart Petrell and Taylor Chorney. The big Finn can play either wing and could be one of the young wingers in line for increased playing time if and when Ales Hemsky is sent away.
The Edmonton Oilers have some outstanding wingers on the current roster (Hall, Eberle) plus some quality veterans (Smyth, Hemsky) and players who have played (Jones) beyond expectations. The trading of Hemsky opens up an opportunity for someone, and two young candidates are Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen.
I think there’s some evidence that Hartikainen might be the better offensive option. He has size, has improved his foot speed and has displayed a willingness to enter into those "tough areas" in pursuit of goals. This season has been a struggle for both men at the NHL level:
- Paajarvi 31, 0-4-4 -7
- Hartikainen 3, 0-0-0 -4
Hartikainen got 9 minutes a night during his cup of coffee and MP is at about 12.5 minutes per game time on ice. Neither player has done much offensively, in fact Paajarvi’s 5×5/60 numbers are down in the Hordichuk-Lander range.
Paajarvi does have a story to tell, though. His CorsiRel is a surprise based on the offense delivered:
That’s a solid number for Paajarvi, suggesting that despite the lack of offense the puck is going in a good direction when he’s on the ice. Hartikainen’s number is exceptional, but sample size suggests we ignore the early evidence and wait for 20 more games.
HOW DO WE MAKE SENSE OF THIS?
Hartikainen and Paajarvi are going to get their at-bats unless they fall on their face. Once Hemsky is gone the club will have a spot in the batting order for one or both. Paajarvi’s recent time in the minors seems to suggest what long time blogosphere commenter Dennis King has suggested for some time now: Magnus Paajarvi is going to have a hard time scoring goals.
That doesn’t mean he’s useless, but the speed minus the shot may end up forcing the Oilers to slot him in on a less offensive line. Here are the two players and their AHL numbers this season:
- Paajarvi:10, 1-8-9 .900
- Hartikainen: 29, 9-10-19 ,655
Although Paajarvi’s number is clearly better, you’d certainly like a strong showing for a former 10th overall selection. I don’t know which of these young men are going to emerge as the better offensive player, but the opportunity is on the horizon. Paajarvi did pretty well when he got the chance after Christmas last year, that may be enough for coach Renney to give him the first at-bats.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers don’t need Superman, but if one of these two wingers can emerge as a 20-goal, second line winger then the Oilers rebuild will have found another key component.I expect we’re about to find out which player Edmonton values more.