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Teemu Hartikainen Cracks The Top Ten - Oilers Top 25 Under 25

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Photo By: <a href="http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/392740/HarskishadowsEberle.JPG">Bruce McCurdy</a>
Photo By: Bruce McCurdy
All of Teemu Hartikainen's arrows are pointing in the right direction, and they have been since he debuted in the SM-Liiga. He was drafted 163rd overall in Stu MacGregor's first draft and the longshot has been pushing himself into conversations about the Oilers' future ever since.

His year-over-year scoring is up, despite completing his mandatory military service, which put a dent in the first half of his season.  He played in the World Championship warm-ups and was Finland's best player at the World Junior Championships for two years in a row.  In the first round of this year's SM-Liiga playoffs, he was the best forward in the league.  His shot rates are outstanding and his even strength scoring is tracking well.  His post-military scoring was .677 per game, or 36 points for the season.  Using Desjardins' NHLE, that's equivalent to 10 goals and 20 assists through an NHL season.  For a sixth-round pick, he's tracking far above expectations. 

Even though Hartikainen wasn't ranked in the top ten by any of us, the fact that none of us dropped him below thirteen sprung his cumulative rating into the top ten.  In fact, outside of the top five, no other player saw his five Copper & Blue ratings converge as closely as Hartikainen.  Either my never-ending propaganda campaign has finally had an impact on the writers here, or the arrows described above have been noticed by everyone else except Ben, who inexplicably dropped him five spots this year.


Rank Player DOB Drafted Year Ben
Bruce
Derek
Jon Scott
10 Teemu Hartikainen
5/3/90
163 2008
12 13 11 13 11

 

Previous rank: 13

Given the amount of coverage I've given Hartikainen over the last year, there isn't much new information to put out there.  I recommend you browse the copious Hartikainen wing of The Copper & Blue library; there is information on everything from his propensity to shoot from in tight to his play in the World Junior Championships.

Where does that leave Teemu as he heads to Oklahoma City to begin his first North American season with the Barons?  Well, we're not really sure.  When I last looked at comparable players, it became clear that the Finnish military service requirement makes it difficult to use any kind of one-to-one projection for teenage Finns.  Right now, his closest comp falls somewhere between Ville Niemenen and Jere Lehtinen, and the gulf between those two players is wide. If he does turn into Ville Niemenen at the NHL level, I don't think you'll find an Oiler fan, nor writer here, that would be disappointed.

His season in Oklahoma City will tell us so much about his game and his future.  He's moving to a much smaller rink which should allow him to use his physical game and be a more effective winger.  At the same time, he's going to compete against larger men, on average, and that should limit his physical game, especially power moves from the boards, something he lives on in the offensive end.  But he's more than that - he kills penalties, he was KalPa's version of Tomas Holmstrom on the power play, and he both enjoys and excels in the defensive end, or at least he did in Finland. 

There remains every chance that Hartikainen will flame out and never sniff the NHL.  Gabe Desjardins looked at the issue last year and gave him a one in three chance of making the NHL based on historical rates.  But the kid has a jet stream worth of wind behind his back right now and he plays a game that no other prospect in the organization plays.  He's come from nearly nowhere and has been forced to prove himself at every turn; there's a crack in the door and if anyone is capable of wedging his way into the show, it's Teemu Hartikainen.