This season, though, the Oilers sent three players back to Oklahoma City — Hartikainen, VandeVelde and defenseman Colten Teubert.
With the Barons in a bit of a slump entering Friday's 7 p.m. regular-season home finale against Houston, Oklahoma City general manager Bill Scott is hoping the trio can give the Western Division champs a shot in the arm.
“It's exciting when you get three players back like these guys,” Scott said. “They're all invested in what this team is doing and have come down here with smiles on their faces. They want to play and help this team win a Calder Cup, which it is capable of doing.”
All three players will be a key if the Barons are to make a run in the postseason, which begins next week. Playoff pairings will be determined this weekend as the AHL closes the regular season. Oklahoma City has road games Saturday (at Texas) and Sunday (at San Antonio).
Hartikainen pairs with Josh Green and Magnus Paajarvi to bring back one of the most productive lines the Barons have assembled this season.
“It's a good line for us,” Hartikainen said. “It gives us some speed, some muscle, a little bit of everything.”
VandeVelde gives the Barons a center who can be solid on draws and help out on special teams.
With Taylor Chorney expected to return for the playoffs after being injured in late March, Teubert gives the Barons a chance to put their six top defensemen on the ice at the same time for the first time this season.