LEFT WING LOCK?

In the life and times of a hockey prospect, there are opportunities and then there are OPPORTUNITIES. For Teemu Hartikainen, this fall and winter in Oklahoma could be the springboard for an NHL career.

COMPETITION

The Edmonton Oilers sent down their kids today as the prepare for the lockout. The list is a knockout:

  1. Cameron Abney
  2. Mark Arcobello
  3. Tyler Bunz
  4. Dane Byers
  5. Philippe Cornet
  6. Yann Danis
  7. Brandon Davidson
  8. Jordan Eberle
  9. Taylor Fedun
  10. Curtis Hamilton
  11. Teemu Hartikainen
  12. Tanner House
  13. Anton Lander
  14. Martin Marincin
  15. Ryan Martindale
  16. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
  17. Magnus Paajarvi
  18. Kristians Pelss
  19. Tyler Pitlick
  20. Alex Plante
  21. Toni Rajala
  22. Olivier Roy
  23. Justin Schultz
  24. Colten Teubert
  25. Antti Tyrvainen
  26. Chris VandeVelde

LEFT WINGERS

The cool job for Barons wingers will be the L slot beside the Nuge and Eberle on the ‘hero’ line. Although Hartikainen will have competition for the position–Magnus Paajarvi is a potential match and Phil Cornet has skill–there are reasons why Hartikainen should probably be considered the front runner.

First, Paajarvi is likely to be paired with countryman Anton Lander on a line. They’re familiar with each other and there’s a chance the duo will one day form the nucleus of a 2-way 3rd line in Edmonton. Dane Byers is another LW option and he has experience, size and a mean streak–all things coach Todd Nelson might want to place on the portside with the two franchise forwards. Cornet–despite a strong year in 11-12–is unlikely to be an NHL regular during the ‘teens.

Hartikainen’s skill set, which includes size, hitting and some skill, dovetails nicely and gives the Oilers a chance to find chem with a guy who could be around for many years with the NHL team.

REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS

In the AHL, Hartikainen has averaged .632 points-per-game. If he plays much of the season with Nuge-Ebs, who are two guys who should post north of a point-per-game, I think something close to that level is reasonable. Hartikainen’s seasons:

  • (age 20) 66, 17-25-42 .636
  • (age 21) 51, 14-18-32 .627

I’d peg Hartikainen’s RE at about 60, 20-30-50 .833 allowing for the improved AHL (some of the names playing in the minors this season will rival the Spezza-Parise bunch from the last Bettman winter) and for Hartikainen’s linemates.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Opportunity rarely knocks like this: Teemu Hartikainen is a notorious slow starter, but must find a way to establish himself as the best available LW option for the Nuge-Eberle duo. If he does that, he might just find his ticket punched when the lockout ends and the NHL goes back to work.

I doubt he gets this kind of opportunity again.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I would like to see the Lander -MPS connection as a 3rd line this year– and I think that if Lander gets premium ice-time with skill guys during the lockout he will put up serious numbers.Todd Nelson seems to be using a system that “should”highlight MPS and his size and speed and awareness as he comes in as a trailer because of his innate defensive positioning he cant help maintaining ala Jarri Kurri–I hope MPS doesnt change that positioning –I still think MPS can use his one-timer like KURRI did on our top lines.
    The Barons might want to have MPS come in a bit later than they are now bringing the upspeed winger into the o-zone to the back door– and have him pull up for a one-timer around the faceoff circle instead of pushing right to the net as they are doing now–this is a nice option if you are working the initial shot off of the right circle forcing a toe save dynamic because if they try to stop that play you just make the same cross ice “shot/pass”up higher for a clearcut onetimer ,toss the one-timer in 50% of the time–push the opposition goaltender and d-men hard every game because this one-timer is an NHL level play we need MPS to work on,remember the team is a development platform first and a winning entity second,right??.
    Nuge needs mega-faceoffs as well–he needs to work on knocking the puck down to his feet and engaging offense with an immediate shot on net in the o-zone–this way he can work on winning faceoffs at the NHL level by trying to put the puck places his opponent isnt considering right off the drop–places where he will snap the puck from–non-traditional areas where his body position after the initial puck battle give him a shooting lane.Even if its an intentional loss that allows him to get to the puck first,he needs another face-off gear–a tricky changeup offensive quick-strike threat.

    Just sayin.

    • Lowetide

      He’s coming of injury and surgery, so he’ll be evaluated during the fall. Hall will also get his NHL salary as an injured player.

      That’s actually a benefit of the lockout, plenty of time to make sure #4 is ready.

  • Lowetide

    Martindale could/might center Eberle and Hopkins for a trial period . Teubert should make big strides this year . Marincin could surprise and Musil if he goes down . Cornet keeps improving . Paajarvi will find time with Hop and Ebbs no doubt .