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Mo' Money, Mo' Skills

The Teemu Haritkainen show here at the Copper and Blue continues.  Yesterday, Derek mentioned that Hartikainen should be considered "a steal" at 163rd overall and told us a little bit about some of his accomplishments, including being named rookie of the year in the SM-Liiga for 2009 and participating in the World Championship training camp for the Finns over the last month before being cut from the team.  I've been a little bit more hesitant than Derek in treating Hartikainen like a prospect with anything more than an outside chance at an NHL career (say, 20%) but that fat new contract he signed with the Oilers ($875,000 at the NHL level in salary and signing bonus, the entry-level maximum for Hartikainen's draft year) has me feeling a lot more optimistic about his chances.  After the jump, I'll take a look at how entry-level money may do a pretty good job of predicting future success for players selected late in the draft.

For this study I looked at all of the players drafted 151st or later in either 2005 or 2006, noted the average salary they received over their entry-level contract and the number of games they played in the NHL.  In those two drafts there were 143 players selected and 57 of those players were signed to entry-level contracts (I think this is accurate but if you see that I've missed someone, let me know in the comments).  In the chart below, I've organized those 57 players by the number of NHL games they've played and I've highlighted all of the players with a cap hit of $700,000 or more (thanks to for almost all of the salary information).



On the downside, there's not a whole lot of success stories here.  Signing an entry-level contract is a mighty fine accomplishment for all of these guys but most of them better hope that their agents are maximizing their AHL salaries as only eleven players from the group have played in at least forty games.  However, the players with the higher cap hits do have a much higher rate of success.  Of the sixteen players with a cap hit of $700,000 or more, seven of them have played at least 20 NHL games and some of those who haven't (Logan Pyett, Marc Cheverie) show quite a bit of promise.  At the other end of the spectrum, only four of the forty-one players with a cap hit of less than $700,000 have played in at least 20 NHL games.  I've thought of Hartikainen as a "ten-percenter" (or perhaps a bit better as time has gone on) for a long time but this data suggests that his chances at the NHL are much better than that so long as the Oilers are reasonably good evaluators of talent and reasonably good negotiators (the method only works if the Oilers are in line with the market; a fat contract needs to indicate that the player is skilled, not that your management team is incompetent at evaluation and negotiation).  So there you have it!  From seemingly every angle, Teemu Hartikainen looks like a very good prospect for the Edmonton Oilers.