How high is the ceiling for Harski? Photo © Bruce McCurdy, all rights reserved.
Jonathan Willis' methodology of normalizing stats to compare players over time has helped us find the comparables of Bobby Clarke, Dave Keon and Bobby Carpenter for Sam Gagner. It's helped us recognize that Magnus Paajarvi statistically compares to Michael Nylander, Peter Forsberg and Mats Lindgren.
Teemu Hartikainen has already has his fair share of words devoted to him in columns here at The Copper & Blue, and I've spent time finding comparables for his 18-year-old season as well as his military service-marred 19-year-old season. I've been saying for awhile that Hartikainen is somewhere between the vast space that separates Jere Lehtinen and Ville Niemenen.
Now we can use Willis' methodology to find statistical comparables for Hartikainen. From Jonathan's excellent article on Sam Gagner:
To make comparisons a little fairer, I went back to the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, and looked at all the forwards who a) were 6’1" or shorter b) played in the NHL in their first year of eligibility and c) didn’t have a truckload of penalty minutes. I then took those players and adjusted their offence to reflect an NHL season in which teams averaged three goals per game, and projected that offence over an 82-game schedule.
Unfortunately, due do data limitations, I could only compare Finnish forwards that eventually played in the NHL. I normalized the 18 and 19-year-old FInnish league seasons of every Finnish forward to make the NHL, then adjusted it for a 58 game season in which the average team goals per game was 2.75 (the average team goals per game in the SM-Liiga over the five yeas has been 2.72) and attempted to find the ideal statistical comparable for Teemu Hartikainen.
First up are the adjusted comparable 18-year-old seasons.
Antero Lehtonen had an extremely similar season by the adjusted numbers, and outscored Tuomo Ruutu and Sami Kapanen. He was in the general vicinity of Mikko Makela.
Next up are the adjusted comparable 19-year-old seasons
Makela is now well-clear and Ruutu establishes himself as an excellent offensive presence. Olli Jokinen's breakout season at 19 looks all that much more impressive when viewed in this light.
On the other hand, Hartikainen is still clear of Mikko Koivu and both Sami Kapanen and Jere Lehtinen are well down the list.
That means that a very small group of players are in the range over the course of two seasons
Unlike Paajarvi, there are no clear-cut comparables using this methodology. His statistical performance puts him in the class of some very heavy Finnish hitters. He impressed during rookie camp, showcasing his relentless work on the boards and his power game. He also back-checked extremely well, and by the eye, he actually does look like a rough-around-the-edges Jere Lehtinen. The Willis Methodology gets us no closer to finding a comparable for Hartikainen and he still exists in the statistical aether. If he keeps up this level of play, Hartikainen will be his own comparable.