Photo by Rob Ferguson, OKC Hockey, with permission.
If there's one player The Copper & Blue knows when it comes to Edmonton prospects, it's Teemu Hartikainen. Hartikainen has been a subject of intense discussion and analysis here for over two years and as such he's become a site icon. His style of play, his willingness to go to the net, his feisty demeanor and his goal-scoring ability have made him a fan favorite everywhere he's been. You may not know it given such lofty praise, but Hartikainen has yet to display his all-around game for a full season.
In 2008, when he was eighteen, he moved from KalPa's junior program to the professional team. He spent the early part of that season acclimatizing to the league and the team. He caught on fast enough to post a marvelous rookie season and win the Wasama Trophy. He fulfilled his mandatory military service upon turning nineteen and through the final two months of service took a second job as a professional hockey player and once again his numbers suffered as he tried to balance the two jobs. Completion of his Army service invigorated the young Finn and the results posted in his nineteen-year-old season were extremely similar to those of Jere Lehtinen. As if his career hadn't seen enough tumult, he decided to come to North America to play in the AHL as a twenty-year-old. Adjusting to life in a new country with a new language would be difficult enough, but he's had to adjust to yet another new league as well. As has been his custom, Hartikainen posted lower numbers than expected through November, but as the calender turns to December, Teemu is heating up once again.
Because his career and life have been in a constant state of flux, Hartikainen's early season returns often show a player struggling to find his footing. Below is a table showing Hartikainen's stat totals in October and November in each of his three professional seasons.
|Teemu Hartikainen, October and November|
There's not much to write home about here. Hartikainen is a middling winger, struggling at even strength and not scoring well.
Turn the page on the calendar, however, and there's a different player in those skates. Below is a table showing Hartikainen's totals after November 30th through the end of the season.
|Teemu Hartikainen December 1st - End of season|
There's the goal-scoring Finn who has out-paced Sami Kapanen and Jere Lehtinen.
Putting the totals together in one table shows just how much of a difference a sixty day break-in period can make for a young player.
|Teemu Hartikainen Career Totals|
|Oct - Nov||72||15||15||30||-19||153||0.208||0.417||2.125|
Disclaimer: analysis of his stats based on only 133 career games isn't meant to discover a serious trend, just simply point out that for a player such as Hartikainen, the development cycle and yearly production can be greatly influenced by non-hockey factors.