Replacing Ales

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.

 

  • I think Khabi is our most tradeable asset. Winnipeg, Toronto, Anaheim all looking for a stud no. 1 goalie (Well, if Hiller isn’t good enough.)

    Hemsky doesn’t sign? Trade him. If the price is right? Keep him. A kid like that doesn’t grow off trees.

  • Light, Sweet, Crude

    I don’t get the backlash on old LT here. I think he should get the Lady Byng.
    Hemksy is most likely done in Edmonton. No one in the organization has said it plainly but it’s seems pretty clear just looking at the scenario objectively. I would be thrilled if he stayed, but why would he?
    Good teams (like Detroit) would be willing to take a chance on him. His poor play this season will likely affect his offers, but he’s taken very reasonable contracts his whole career and money doesn’t seem to matter that much to him. Do you think he gives two dangs about what kind of return he gets the Oilers? That’s the real downside to the roll-over and die approach to the rebuild. It’s not a very noble path. Ales probably just wants to stay healthy a get out. He’s not playing to prove his worth to the Oilers. Unless a player is a RFA or struggling to stay in the league at all, what’s the point of being a part of it? The Oilers will get a shamefully modest return for him, unless they sweeten the pot in a pretty substantial way.
    I could see Hemsky and Paajarvi being packaged. Or at least that’s what I would do. I really like Magnus and think he could be a very useful player on a good team, but question his willingness to become that player. Other teams might see him as a high draft pick with all the tools, still on his ELC. That’s enticing, and quality gets quality (with any luck). Maybe a Hemsky rental and Paajarvi investment gets the Oiler something that resembles a player.

  • Jason Gregor

    I dread the thought of Tambelini making any deals concerning Hemsky or any other player for that matter.Desperate people make desperate moves, however I will cut him some slack if he is dealing with Nashville and Ryan Ellis is part of the equation.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Us Oiler fans are always looking for young guys that were high draft picks with all the tools but haven’t put it together yet…yet when we have one who is 20 in Paajarvi we look to trade him…

    • Light, Sweet, Crude

      I am not “looking to trade him.” My last sentence implies Paajarvi doesn’t resemble a player, but that is just poor sentence structure. I would definitely want to keep him around – honest.

      • Light, Sweet, Crude

        Ya I was quoting ya on that one but more so just everyone in general.

        How does he not look like a player, other then not driving the net and finishing (Yes I know goals count) he is 20 most prospects that are 20 are first year AHL.

        • Light, Sweet, Crude

          I think he does indeed look like a player. I think he could be better and that it is his timidity that keeps him from taking that step. He could put it together, no question.
          My only point by bring him up was that the return on a possible Hemsky deal could be very underwhelmming and that it might take the trading of one of our blue-chip youngster forwards to get a blue chip youngster D.
          I do not want see him go, but decisions are going to have to be made in an attempt to balance out the roster.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Wow… what a comments section to arrive late to the party for!

    first off… LT… some of the criticism of your article is way off base, insulting etc… I’ll ignore it.

    BUT, I think it’s legit to question this… how does the responsible:

    “if and when Ales Hemsky is sent away.”

    implied by the appropriate title (given the question mark on Hemsky’s Oiler future) become:

    “Once Hemsky is gone…”

    That seems like a stretch to say the least and pushes the barometer in a way that I don’t like. I’ll freely admit that I’m an avid defender on here of Hemsky… but I don’t like to see this talked about like a foregone conclusion. We don’t need any self-fullfilling prophesies here.

    It’s also really interesting to hear how horrible Hemsky is this year (and there is no doubt his production is down) and then see his adv. stats. consistently (if I’m off-base on this please correct me) show that he is NOT the liability everyone claims he is: he is out-chancing his opponents (tough ones too) and his corsi is good.

    @Stevezie

    I get the frustration… but let it go… once you wander down the authenticity path there is no return… everything ounce of social capital will be fought over and fraught… instead just dig what you dig…

    speaking of which… awesome choices Stevezie and Gregor!!!

  • Time Travelling Sean

    Why is everyone so quick to trade MPS, he’s still only 20? 21? He still has time to learn.

    And from watching Teemu his footspeed hasn’t really improved.