The Oilers have finally signed Teemu Hartikainen. We'll never know if they would have dilly-dallied around with their supposed June 15th date long enough to lose him, but at least the work I put in on this didn't go in vain. [As an aside, I do think it's fantastic that eleven hours after I publish my article on the signing date, the Oilers rush a clarification to Guy Flaming. If I could talk to multiple sources around the league and get the correct date, why couldn't Rick Olczyk? Does he like being shown up by internet writers? But I digress, that's a rant for a different day.]
The terms of the contract, according to Capgeek.com, are as follows: a two-way entry-level contract for three years with an AHL salary of $65,000. The NHL salary is $875,000 and a signing bonus of $87,500 for the NHL.
Even though Hartikainen has yet to play in North American, the Oilers can rightfully claim a steal after drafting him in the sixth round at #163 overall. Hartikainen has won the Wasama Trophy (Finland's version of the Calder) and has already scored 32 professional goals in 104 games. After his great rookie season, Jonathan Willis wanted to see how he could follow it up. I thought that 38 points was going to be a marker that might determine if the kid was a legitmate prospect. Hartikainen put up 33. He then went on to have an outstanding playoff run, showing us through shot charts where he spends his time in the offensive zone, though KalPa was eliminated much earlier than predicted.
However, I did learn of his military service this year and the effect it had on him. Because of that service, finding a comparable for Hartikainen is difficult. My best guess is that he tracks somewhere in the wide range between Ville Niemenen and Jere Lehtinen. Note that this is where he's currently tracking, this is not a prediction of the player that he will become. Hartikainen is currently listed at 6'1", 201 pounds. He's got some filling out to do, so he's going to likely play at 210 or so and he's strong. Very strong.
Hartikainen has told us that he plays like a power forward:
I try to get to the front of the net a lot and I like to hit often. I use my body and strength in the corners and then I try to drive close to the goal and shoot.
Our Finnish commenting crew has described his game:
The first goal is traditional Teemu right there: battling the puck in the corner or behind the goal, sweeping across the faceoff circle (usually with two players using him as a ski lift) and twirling a couple of times before releasing the snappy wrister.
And in signing Hartikainen, Steve Tambellini echoed those thoughts:
He's heavy and he's strong on the puck. He's got some qualities that kind of grab your attention -- just the fact that he's tough to move from those hard areas and in front of the net...
Hartikainen is easily my favorite Oiler prospect and because of that I've done an inordinate and likely undeserved amount of writing about him. If you're interested in learning more about him, click the Teemu Hartikainen tag at the bottom of the article.
So Hartikainen will come into camp this fall and likely have a ticket to Oklahoma City. The roster turnover for the 2010-2011 Barons compared to the 2009-2010 Springfield Falcons will be massive, and Hartikainen will be one of new faces with something to prove. I'm a bit biased, but I'm hoping he kicks the doors in at the Cox Center.
Oh, and Ben, Bruce, just for you, even though Ethan Moreau and Sheldon Souray are on their way out, the Oilers' place in the Body issue of ESPN The Magazine is secure: