“He goes to the net well,” Eberle said. “That's his biggest key. He's a big body in front of the net. On mine and Nuge's goals, he's right there screening. When you have two guys skilled and him in there banging bodies, it makes for a good line combination.”
On an Edmonton roster full of speed, Hartikainen (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) can fill a role.
“He's fun to play with,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “I got to play with him a little bit last year when he came up. He protects the puck well and sees the ice well.”
Selected in the sixth round of the 2008 draft, Hartikainen has played in 29 games in Edmonton the past two years.
Hartikainen, though, has spent the bulk of his time in Oklahoma City. He's scored 81 points in 123 games with the Barons, including 34 goals.
In the final year of his contract, Hartikainen knows a solid showing during the lockout could turn into a promotion to Edmonton and an extended deal.
“I can better my game here and when the lockout ends, I'll be ready to go,” Hartikainen said. “I just have to keep in mind, someday, the lockout will be over and they will call up players. There might be some room for me, too. I just have to be playing good down here.”
Hartikainen has strengthened his case the first two weeks of the season.
“He's adapted to the North American style a lot better,” Eberle said. “It can be tough for Europeans to come over here and jump right into it. He plays that style where he gets into the forecheck quickly and has a good shot.
“He has all the things you want in a power forward. He's developed a lot. He's going to be a good player.”
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BARONS VS. TEXAS STARS
When: 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Cox Convention Center
Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1. Jim Byers play-by-play, Doug Sauter color analyst.
Tickets: Prices start at $10. Available at Cox Center box office or by calling (405) 232-4625
Scouting report: OKC won the regular-season series last year (8-2-0). The Barons and Stars are tied in the AHL's South Division with identical 3-3-0 records. ... The Barons are coming off a 6-4 loss to Houston, a game the Aeros outshot OKC 39-20, on Friday night. ... Recording two more assists in Friday's loss, Barons defenseman Justin Schultz leads the team with 10 points, including four goals. ... The Stars are led by center Cody Eskins, who has six points, including three goals. ... Texas, the Dallas Stars' affiliate located in the Austin suburb of Cedar Park, has surrendered 19 goals in six games. ... Fans can skate with the team for 45 minutes after the game with admission. Skate rental is free, or fans can bring their own. Fans must register at the guest relations table by the end of the second period.