The Oilers' young stars aren't the only players on the Oklahoma City Barons' roster who will be playing in Edmonton when the NHL lockout ends.
Teemu Hartikainen split time between OKC and Edmonton last year. But the bulk of his ice time was with the Barons.
This season Hartikainen wants to prove to team officials he's ready to join stars Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall as cornerstone pieces on a young, talented team with a bright future.
“The thing (Hartikainen) has to do is what he did in the playoffs last year,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “He was very dominant. He played a very physical game. And he has the ability to score goals.”
This season, Hartikainen has scored at least one point in every game except the opener. With seven points, Hartikainen is second in scoring behind rookie defenseman Justin Schultz.
“What he brings is the ability for us to sustain pressure,” said Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini. “It's hard to move him off the puck. Teemu's biggest thing has been having consistency as a pro, deliver every night.
“He's off to a very good start, which is important for him. I know he's working very hard on his strength and conditioning to sustain the type of play we're demanding from him. If he keeps it up, he'll have a good shot at (playing in) the National (Hockey) League.”
Hartikainen, 22, has been a power forward his entire career dating back to junior days in Kuopio, Finland.
“I've been playing that way all my life,” Hartikainen said. “But when I came over here, I didn't know how I should play. Do I need to score a lot of points and be a really good player in the stats? Now I know.
“I don't have to be a 100-point player. Of course, I have to score goals. I'm on the power play. But that's not the biggest thing. It's to stand in front (of the net) and try and get the goalie's eyes off the puck, drive to the net, hit hard.”
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.