HARSKI: OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

One man’s misfortune can be another’s lucky break, and it’s certainly shaping up as such for strapping Finnish forward Teemu Hartikainen as the Edmonton Oilers prepare to open training camp.

While the 22-year old winger would have had a shot at a roster spot this season because he brings dimensions lacking at forward – size and a measure of physicality combined with decent offensive instincts – Harski’s chances of landing an NHL job improved with news Ryan Jones won’t be ready to start the season after suffering an eye injury.

Having upped his stock with the Oklahoma City Barons by scoring 11-15-26 in 35 games, where and how Hartikainen might fit in with Jones out of the mix is an interesting question. He’s shown enough sense around the net to lead some people to conclude he might be worth a look-see in the top-six. He’s got enough grind in his game to play in the bottom six and maybe score a bit, too.

What to do with Harski?

COACH SAYS . . .

"His development has been strong in that he worked hard in the summer and early in the season he was really pushed to be a physical specimen down in Oklahoma City," coach Ralph Krueger told Jason Gregor today.

"He is an interesting option as we look to bring five forward lines and four sets of D into training camp with the injuries to Ryan Jones and Andy Sutton. We will need one defensemen and two forwards from Oklahoma City and Teemu is a good guess on your part for having an opportunity.

"Especially because he brings something unique to the table. Down on the power play in Oklahoma City, he was the net-front presence that allowed Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Arcobello and Justin Schultz to have so much success of late.

"So, there’s been some interesting things that he’s developed and grown in the direction we’d like to see and he also has a mean streak in him and can play tough physically, which is an important asset that we’ll be needing in our line-up."

WHERE DOES HE FIT?

While I’m not so sure about the mean streak Krueger mentioned, there’s no question, at six-foot-two and 215 pounds, Hartikainen is the kind mix of size and reasonable skill Krueger can put to use with this group of forwards.

With 5-5-10 in limited duty through 29 games with the Oilers, including three call-ups last season, we’ve seen glimpses of potential. Harski is neither simply a big-bodied glass-rattler nor is he a pure offensive player. He can score some. He bangs a bit. So, where does he fit? Depends.

I don’t know if Krueger will plug rookie Nail Yakupov into the second line on left wing right away. If he doesn’t, might Hartikainen start out playing with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky? If Yakupov gets the nod to start as the left winger on that line, then Hartikainen might be a good fit on the right side with Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff on the third line.

At this point in Hartikainen’s young career the safe bet, and my inclination, would be to ease him in as primarily a third-line player – where Jones is best-suited – and then take it from there based on what Krueger sees.

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

  • striker777

    I really like Harski. I believe he brings something unique to the top 9 and is a perfect fit. This should be the year he becomes a regular NHLer.

    Oh, and sorry to point this out Robin, but you have him with 25 assists this season- he only has 15.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Question for you: Do you think Harski has the stuff to be a consistent top 6 forward at some point in his career? He’s not there yet, but I can definitely see him as a complementary, rugged winger who can put up 40 plus points a season. Am I off base?

        • Too early to know, plus it’s crowded up there if Yakupov pans out and claims a regular spot on the wing, as I’m sure the Oilers hope he will.

          My hunch over the long haul is he’s a third-liner — think along the lines of Ethan Moreau during his prime years before he broke down or Mike Grier.

          • In that kind of role he would definitely still have value, but I’m hoping and thinking he possesses a bit more skill. Maybe more than anything I just really want a guy on the top two lines who can put a defender on his ass rather than the other way around. And I would like that guy to be Harski.

          • Light, Sweet, Crude

            He has slightly different dimensions to his game from those two. His ability to hang onto the puck and take punishment in the corners is a valuable skill in the cycle game and he is a better front net presence than Grier or Moreau, who were crashers and chaos guys.

  • OilClog

    If its between Teemu and Magnus for the wing spot beside 10 and 94. MPS should get the nod, as it would appear to benefit his game more, being a two way winger. If Teemu can’t crack the top 6 or contribute with little time on the forth line. Then to OKC with him, I’m on the side that MPS’ speed and defensive ability will win out the day due to the Jones injury.

    • Light, Sweet, Crude

      Oilers desperately need a physical winger in their
      top 9. Paajarvi doesn’t bring that. Hartikainon does
      and he’s put up better numbers in OKC. Oilers don’t
      need another soft winger. Hartikainon reminds me a
      bit of Tomas Holmstrum.

      • OilClog

        The Oilers need a banger in the top 6.. which Teemu could be and yes MPS is more suited for a two way defensive forward role, he’s shown this. Teemu has yet to prove that he can bang and push around the opposition at the NHL level in a top feature role.

        MPS has proven to move the puck in the right direction with blistering speed that cuts through the ranks. He doesn’t have the offensive flare as the rest, but I’d see more GA with Teemu on the ice in the same position.

        We don’t need Teemu out on the 3rd line making room for Horcoff and Smyth.. so if he can’t crack the top 2 lines, or be able to still chip in a a productive 4th line role, he’s better off in OKC learning how to better crack bodies on their top line. If MPS is the 3rd line two way winger of the future.. now is the future he won’t learn that trade on a top line in OKC. He needs that experience playing along side the vets up North.

        I like Teemu, I just don’t see him being the coke machine answer to our needs. Our top 4 wingers Hall, Ebs, Hemsky, and Yak are much more talented, Smyth is still there and Eager if he wakes up and decides to play hockey would be better suited in the role.

        Hopkins isn’t going anywhere. I would be on the side that believes the club is desperately looking for that Wrecking ball Center. I would try and make ammends with Anahiem and Offer Gags, Teemu, and something for some sort of Signed Getzlaf. Teemu stock has never been higher, it’s a sell high before the jury is out acquistion. I know it won’t happen, but we’re allowed to dream

        MPS over Harti

    • OilClog

      I totally agree with you . Magnus if its a 3rd line spot & Harski if its 4th line Or if Ralph has the last say it maybe both of them . What shape is Eager in?? Maybe Belanger with Pettrel & Hartski . That would give them some energy and Magnus with Horc & Smitty would be a great shut down line .

  • striker777

    For the love of God, do not put Yakupov on the opposite wing. Use him where he’s been the most effective during his junior career. Maybe a year or two down the road, when the kid is used to the NHL.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Have to agree with you. The AHL games I watched showed Harski as a willing physical player, but didn’t see a “mean streak” per se.

    Thinking back, Kevin Lowe didn’t start his career with a mean streak either, but seemed to develop one over time.

    Maybe Harski can too?

      • A-Mc

        Quite possible.

        I’m not saying he didn’t have a temper, but I do recall the frustration of watching him wave his stick at wingers going past him along the boards many many times in his first year. It wasn’t until later that he developed a much more consistent physical style of play, perhaps with Lee Fogolin as a role model.

        Messier was the guy with a mean streak from day one.

  • hags437

    I’ve always liked this guy and hope he can find a spot on this team. IF he develops into what most project him to be then what a boost to the Oilers. We have the thouroghbreds but what we don’t have enough of is some Clydesdales to do the heavy work. A big body that play big. More important than fighters in this league are in your face type players who can bang you around and create a little havoc. Teemu can be one of those guys and he’s one of the guys I’m most excited about this season.

  • Clyde Frog

    So a little off-topic but was there wording in the potential CBA to stop a “rich” team from trading for a crappy-yet big contract and a decent player/prospect with the expectation of buying out the bad contract?

    Which could possibly allow the original team to resign the original player at a better cap hit?

    If not I wonder which GM explores a little post CBA hijinx first!

  • stevezie

    With Sutton out of the line up, and who knows how Peckham will line up, I am concerned there is no “sandpaper” in the line up. Forget Eager and Hordicuk, they are both frauds in that regard, and should be waived .

    • stevezie

      Perhaps the most interesting player in my mind that truly does not get any respect is Eager!

      “Rumor has it”, he was given very tight and often conflicting order as to how he should play with Renny at the Helm. Last time I checked we do not have many 240 lb fighters that can skate like the wind.

      This guy deserves a fresh start under Ralph!

      • The Oilers Shot Clock

        Im on board with this…for 5 games. Hartski isnt the only one who can take advantage of Jones being out. Eager can salvage his time with us in this span if he plays smart. We’ll see how much Renney had to do with it soon enough, and we’ll see how expendable Jones is as well. MPS,Eager,Hartski,all have a shot at stepping up here.

      • Light, Sweet, Crude

        I agree, I never really understood why people around here soured on Eager so harshly. Maybe I missed the game where he turned the other cheek on Nuge getting roughed up – that gets brought up a lot. I do recall reading somewhere that his assignments were conflicting last year. There is real potential for a improvement from him this year. He’s got some good tools as you say.

        • justDOit

          Eager was MIA on most of the shifts where the tough guys do the tough things last season. Granted, he did suffer a concussion to start the year, but the number of times he looked valuable are far outnumbered by his moments of ‘wtf?’.

          I shared your opinion of him last year, but I’ve lost most sense of optimism for him now. What I do hold out hope for, is that Coach K can provide an environment and structure for his players to succeed in.

          • Light, Sweet, Crude

            Ya, I’ll be the first to agree he was nothing special last year. I’d like to see him with a new bench boss for a few games before he is jettisoned is all. The Oilers are always on the search for a guy who fits his description. Maybe his time is up though. We’ll see.

      • I’ve always thought Eager should get more ice time and maybe some better line mates. Sadly for him I believe that ship has sailed as there is no longer any room for him other than the fourth line. Renney’s fault. Still I think he will be a good fit and can chip in with 12 or so goals if he plays every day.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    It seems to me that Paajarvi benefits more from a Jones injury, since I think Hartikainen was slotted onto the NHL roster anyway.

    The good thing about Hartikainen in relation is that he can reasonably slot into anywhere on the NHL lineup. At least, that argument can be made. With MPS, the only place I can see him on the current Oilers is 3RW, a spot he very well might get now, and I hope he is considered for.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    I believe if you take out the emotional factor, this trade Eberle for Adam Larsson is a reasonable hockey trade.

    I also believe NJ would not jump at this.

    I also believe hockey people would think this is a fair trade.

    • paul wodehouse

      …is that sound of you backpeddling ur a$$ outta this ridonckulous trade you proposed Nick??? well done …im sure “hockey people” would be less ’emotional’ now that you’ve come to your senses…at least you could say 14 my be worth trading after he’s won three or four Stanley Cups with our side ala 99 for this Larrson guy…

    • paul wodehouse

      Nothing to do with emotions at all, its just not even logical to make a trade that dumb. Drew Doughty….maybe I would think about it but not straight up for Larsson.

  • paul wodehouse

    No backpeddling here. I would make the trade, I think the posters are wrong.

    Eberle plays soft minutes and can be replaced, Larsson is going to be a #1 d-man in the NHL for a long time.

    • justDOit

      Yes, he did get into some legal trouble lately. I haven’t seen anything about it lately, but I remember thinking that Eager is set to become the next Corson of the league – all he needs to do is hit ‘it’ with a team-mates wife.

  • In fact….it really is hard to make a lineup card with all if these fine forwards we have to pick from. GOOD PROBLEM TO HAVE. Harti definitely gets in but I also want to see Magnus up here too. Can’t have it all I guess. If anything it will push players to be on too of their game because so many are RIGHT THERE waiting to take their spot.

  • justDOit

    I’m surprised how much people here think of Eberle hockey talent. I think he is a very good player, but still has not proven he can play against the top lines.

    His minutes have been soft as they should be he is still very young.

    I also think finding winger’s is easier than finding #1 D-men.

    • justDOit

      Part of your problem is using Adam Larsson. Hasn’t shown anything yet suggesting he’ll definitely be a number one. If you used a guy like Alex petrangelo it would be a little better. Problem is Eberle looks like a special player and the oilers future d looks pretty good there’s a chance Justin Schultz could be that number one d.

    • justDOit

      Ebs is showing to be an elite scoring winger, while Larsson has shown to be a young defenseman playing the 3rd pairing on a sound defensive team. He was benched or scratched quite a lot last season, which is quite normal.

      But if you can find these winger’s (sic) who can easily slot in on the top line and post at a point per game, then I think KLowe has a job opportunity for you.

  • Where's Your Towel

    As dumb as this trade proposal (Ebs for Larsson) is, it does bring up a scary point:

    At some point, unless management pulls off a miracle, we may have to spend some of the riches at forward to bring in help on D.

    You won’t be getting the kind of help we’ll need for spare parts or high-drafted wingers that didn’t pan out either.

  • Where's Your Towel

    Your not getting OEL or Doughty or Hedman or Pietrangelo for Eberle.

    Larsson is more of a defensive defenceman and can’t be compared to J Schultz.

    If you had to trade between the top 3 oilers Hall , RNH, and Eberle.

    Eberle would be my choice.

    The reason this deal makes sense to me is NJ needs wingers they lost Parise. Oilers need a number 1 d-man.

    Won’t happen anyway but call me in 2yrs see if you disagree with me then.

    • First, you don’t need a marquee player to trade or a marquee player.

      Example-Brewer and prospects for Pronger.

      The Oilers have a prospect in Klefbom so the need for Larsson is not at all high.

      I will guarantee you this!! Weber gets traded out of Nashville next year, I guarantee it will be for a top four defensmen, prospects and picks with zero marquee value going back.

      Example from last year the Nash trade.

      Stop with the freaking Eberle talk!!!

      Jesus.

    • At this point Eberle is a more proven player where as Larsson is not. Could be giving away a first line winger for a good number three d man. Can’t make that deal. Eberle Hall and Nuge will be oilers for as long as management can keep them and that sounds good to me.

    • Hair bag

      The notion of trading a lady bing candidate in just his second full season for a defenseman who was a healthy scratch during the playoffs is outlandish. Just because the guy went 4th overall doesn’t qualify his as a number 1 defenceman. Klefbom is a high end prospect that will be in Edmonton next year. Patience Nick

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Hope to see Harski in the opening line up. I like his compete level.

    I don’t think we’re gonna see an improved Eager at all. I think we’ve seen what he can do. Great skater, not much else. HOpe I’m wrong though.

    Some crazy talk going on here about trading Eberle..and for Larsson. I know Karate, but you seem to know caaraazy. On Eberle, does anyone know if any player has ever lead both AHL and NHL in scoring at the same time? It could happen, even for one or two games only..

  • A-Mc

    I havent seen enough of Harti to really know what he’ll do at the NHL level. But at this point, the buzz around him and the way he fills a role that we are lacking in is putting him ahead of Magnus in my mind.

    Poor Magnus just can’t get his shi…stuff together.

    Also, To those who support the trade of Eberle for anything but invincibility, You can go EFF yourself. KING Jordan of Eberle IS HERE TO STAY!

  • 2004Z06

    I think Eager deserves a second chance as well, however I also believe he is a suspension magnet. anytime the guy tries to lay the body or fight a guy in defense of his teamates, he is going to be suspended. Are the Oilers going to cover his lost paychecks while he sits in the press box? I doubt it.

  • 2004Z06

    Spoke with some guys over the summer who player for Renney a number of years ago and while they like him as a person, they couldn’t stand playing for him. Wound too tight, guys felt too restricted and over-coached. Didn’t really have that inspiring quality.

    With all the talk about the Fab 5, it’s easy to forget how much fun it will be to see what (if anything) Krueger can bring to dislodge the shackles of losing.