Teemu Hartikainen hasn't had the year that he was hoping for. He ended last season with a twelve-game audition in the NHL, and by all accounts, it was a pretty successful little run. He was playing over seventeen minutes per night, he scored five points - his first NHL goal among them - and he was the only forward on the team with at least ten games played to post a positive Corsi ratio. Through that dozen games, Hartikainen looked like he would be ready to step up to the next level in 2011-12.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||Jon||Ryan||Scott|
But it hasn't happened. In training camp, Hartikainen wasn't able to secure a spot, at least in part because the coaching staff decided to keep Anton Lander up, which meant moving Sam Gagner to the wing. That meant no spot for Hartikainen. With all of the injuries in Edmonton, Hartikainen may have gotten a long look in December, but he himself was in the process of rehabbing a bad shoulder, the first major injury of his career.
Even before the injury, Hartikainen was struggling. He was a healthy scratch early in November, and when Lowetide spoke with Todd Nelson in November, the Barons' head coach talked about the disappointment of being sent to the minors:
When he got sent down he was disappointed. It took him a few days to get over it but he's better now. He's here, he's working hard, he's having fun and he's only going to get better and better.
That implies a slow start to the season, and while that may be the case, Hartikainen was much better statistically before his injury than he has been since coming back:
As you can see, he did start very slowly at five-on-five, but he made up for that by scoring his points in other situations, mostly on the power play. Since his injury, he's either struggled mightily on the power play, or simply isn't getting the same amount of ice time. His shot rate has also plummeted, which is particularly discouraging because that's always been a strength, and because it's something that might be impacted by the lingering effects of a shoulder injury. His brief stint in the NHL this season fits with this (Derek will love me) narrative well. Hartikainen was less effective in general, but especially in his board-work than he had been in the past. Hard not to wonder if a somewhat serious shoulder injury had something to do with it.
My previous look at Oklahoma City showed that Hartikainen wasn't consistently being fed tough opponents, and that he was likely getting plenty of ice time at evens, but didn't have much to show for it offensively. He has played just four games since, so not much has changed. The big question for me is how much of an impact the injury is having on his season. I think that it's probably been substantial. That doesn't mean that we ought to be writing off these numbers completely, but it seems likely to me that they might be underselling what Hartikainen will be capable of at the start of next season after a full summer of training. For the sake of Hartikainen, the Oilers, and the fans, let's hope that's true.