Report: Teemu Hartikainen signs in the KHL

 

According to the highly reliable Craig Custance of ESPN, Oilers forward Teemu Hartikainen will play in the KHL next season.

This is an extremely surprising development. Despite the fact that Hartikainen is a restricted free agent, the expectation was that he would play a role in the NHL for the Oilers this season. He’s coming off an entry-level contract where he established himself as a contender for NHL work, though last season he failed to take advantage of an opportunity to cement himself in a top-nine role on the roster and was likely bound for a depth role to start 2013-14.

Despite a disappointing season, Hartikainen was still well-placed for NHL advancement. His waiver exemption had expired, meaning that the Oilers could not have re-assigned him to Oklahoma City without allowing the other 29 teams a chance to claim him – something they almost certainly would not have done. The results were lacking in a lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, but Hartikainen’s combination of size (6’1", 215 pounds) and ability (his work in the AHL has been excellent) made him an intriguing prospect for the Oilers. 

There has yet to be any official reaction from the Oilers organization – or, for that matter, independent confirmation of the move – but there are essentially two different ways of looking at this. If Hartikainen was a player the team had firm plans for and who they felt could be an asset in the NHL this year, than this is an unfortunate loss for the team. If, on the other hand, he was the kind of player they were ambivalent about and were only planning to keep on the NHL roster because of waiver rules, a year in Russia could actually turn out to be a benefit – it gives Hartikainen another year to show what he can do (in a more difficult league than the AHL) and clears a roster spot for the team.

Right now, the only thing that is certain is that this opens yet another spot on a 2013-14 Oilers roster that was already looking at a significant transformation.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Canucks Army, Thomas Drance makes the argument that Vancouver might be able to learn a little from old employee Craig MacTavish when it comes to making a coaching hire

Time will tell if the Oilers were too hasty, or if the Canucks were too dithering, in their respective pursuits of Dallas Eakins. Going forward, however, I think Canucks management needs to seriously consider whether their preternaturally patient approach to pretty much everything is borne of prudence, or of indecision.

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  • A-Mc

    Probably a Teemu decision to go play a more dominate role closer to home and probably more money . Can hardly blame him if Oilers were not going to give him a one way contract . How long do we own his rights for if he goes to KHL ? Likeable and sorry to see him go .

    • A-Mc

      Lol, not sure I would hang around Dodge either. I watched that first tornado live on CNN that day….no thanks…..was like a leaf blower blowing a path through a yard full of leaves.

  • oilman3

    the competition may be better in the khl, but unless i’m mistaken, i don’t feel that it’s a good place for him to hone the kind of skills that will make him an nhl regular. although he needs to develop some scoring ability, he is the kind of guy who needs to consistently get dirty goals and throw his weight around. the khl is not exactly a haven for grinders.

  • Knowing now that he had to clear waivers to be assigned to Oklahoma, I’m happy he signed with the KHL.. hope he becomes a better player there.

    I think he’s way overrated by Oilers fans. Don’t get me wrong, I like him.. but he has work to do before he’ll make the kind of impact we need on this team right now.

    Maybe after a year in the KHL he’ll find some scoring hands.

    I have a feeling the decision to play in KHL was mutual between Harti and Oilers (given waiver eligibility)

    There also is a chance that he has an out clause, maybe? (if you can do that mid season??)

      • Randaman

        It’s called GRIT!! Not for a shift or two but the whole season. If he feels that he is worthy of a top 6 spot he has been getting some bad advice. Toughen up and come back hungry

      • Putting up some numbers would be nice. You kind of have to do a little more out there than exist, and bang bodies. I like him, I just don’t think he’s an NHL player yet. If he wasn’t waiver eligible, he’d be bouncing between AHL/NHL as he tried to prove himself.

        He’s the opposite of some of our younger starts.. needs to learn how to play WITH the puck (his game without it isn’t too bad).

        Right now I’d prefer we stock this team up with some quality bottom six players.

        TO anyone thinking we let a player walk or lost him.. I doubt it. I am betting that it was a joint decision with the Oilers, since he would need waivers to play in AHL and is far from the best option for our bottom six right now (maybe one of the best on our weak-a– team, but replaceable for now by free agency).