Nelson On Hartikainen – “He’s Definitely A Part Of Their Future”

AHL Hockey: Apr 02 Barons vs Bulldogs
Hartikainen, home sweet temporary home. Photo by Steven Christy

In an article that went virtually unknown, under-appreciated, and under-promoted, Michael Baldwin of the Daily Oklahoman had one of the most interesting interviews with Barons Coach, Todd Nelson, and NHL-ready forward, Teemu Hartikainen. Following a locked out season where everyone, including myself, assumed that Hartikainen would remain an Oiler after the i’s had been dotted and the t’s had been crossed, it appears now that Teemu is being encouraged to play more minutes in Oklahoma City for the remainder of the season. This, of course, is good for OKC who has had a bit of a resurgence of late no thanks to the Finn, but at the same time wearing a Barons sweater isn’t the end result he most desires.

Here are some really interesting highlights from that interview that I find very insightful on the future of the Oilers power forward:

Nelson on Teemu being sent back to OKC, and why Magnus stays:

“It was a numbers game,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “They had all their guys healthy. And a guy like (Magnus) Paajarvi has been playing really well. It was hard for Hardy to get in the lineup.”

“When Hardy is playing his game he’s very tough to play against, when he’s moving his feet, finishing his checks and is very strong down low,” Nelson said. “He’s learned the last three years his role is to be that big body up front. The big thing for him is consistency.”

Hartikainen, in typical moondoggy fashion, takes it in stride:

“This is sort of like home to me,” Hartikainen said. “I feel comfortable in this locker room. I can play my game, be physical, score goals and play in front of the net on the (power play). I know what I can do in this league. My confidence is good.”

“It’s a higher level,” Hartikainen said. “There are a lot of good D-men. It’s hard to come out of the corner and beat them every time. I just need to work a little bit harder. I felt I was playing pretty well the first 12 games before I got hurt. But I didn’t score enough.”

Nelson on Hartikainen’s future with the Oilers:

“He’s definitely part of their future,” Nelson said. “They’re young with a lot of skill players. Hardy is one of those power forwards, a big body. He can handle a rough game, but he also has skill to put pucks in the net. Those guys are hard to find.”

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