Tuesday, 9 August 2011
08/09/11 58.5 Rookie Report Card: Teemu Hartikainen
Tempered enthusiasm is the order of the day. Teemu Hartikainen played extremely well in his brief stint with the Oilers. But how much of what he showed the coaches and fans was real NHL talent, and how much was smoke and mirrors? He was certainly good enough to earn a C+, and potentially the only thing keeping that grade from being higher is the number of games he played. Then again, more NHL games might have made his grade go the other way.
It's very hard to get a sense of just how good Hartikainen would have been over a full season, because he only played 12 games. By the middle of March there wasn't much of an NHL team left because of all the injuries, which is why Hartikainen got his chance. Not only did he get a chance to play in the NHL, but he also got significantly more playing time than he otherwise would have with superior wingers ahead of him on the depth chart.
Hartikainen averaged 17:24 of ice time in his 12 games, which is as much as Jordan Eberle averaged when he was in the lineup. He also averaged 2:35 of powerplay time per game. It's safe to say that on a healthy Oilers team, the young Finn would not have seen the ice nearly as much as this. He did earn his playing time by performing admirably for a young player, but the team also didn't really have any other option.
Not to stomp all over a fine showing by a young player, but Hartikainen scored one of his 3 goals and one of his 2 assists on the powerplay. To see him on the powerplay ahead of Hall, Eberle, Gagner, Horcoff, or Hemsky is a bit of a stretch; and those players were all out of the lineup by the time Hartikainen got called up.
We also don't really know how this player will perform when he is inevitably placed into a bottom-six role (at least on this team). Hartikainen didn't kill penalties at all, so we have no idea how effective he is at it in the NHL.
There are things that can't be measured in stats, though. Hartikainen seemed to work hard most shifts, and he was fairly noticeable in that regard. He certainly wanted to make the most of his callup and he did just that. Many fans seemed happy to see a player put in the effort for a team with zilch to play for, and that was also so devastated by injuries they could sometimes be more painful to watch than Calgary winning a playoff round. If you can remember that far back.
If it hadn't been for all the injuries, Haritkainen would almost certainly have gotten lost in the shuffle. Few would have noticed how he quietly put up 17-25-42 in 66 games in OKC as an AHL rookie. What the Oilers and their fans have discovered is that they have a gamer on their hands, who deserves credit for a good season. It's up to the fans to judge him based on the little they saw. How far Hartikainen progresses - and whether or not he can play his way into a deep Oilers top-six - will be up to him.