Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Esa Tikkanen
Tikkanen is best known in Finland as a member of the HIFK Helsinki club, but he actually started out with Jokerit, their crosstown rivals. There is a now very famous photograph of Tikkanen as a five-year-old mascot skating down the ice in a Jokerit jersey before the start of a game. Jokerit has the biggest hockey budget in Finland, so it was no surprise that they snapped him up when he decided that the deal for his return to the club where he had his biggest success and his best memories -- the Edmonton Oilers -- wasn't attractive enough.

During his career, Tikkanen has played all three forward positions, but he was predominantly a winger before his role-switching also made him a center. Tikkanen has amassed 630 points in his NHL career, many of them earned on the offense, where he wasn't supposed to be playing. This total places him third among the all-time best Finns in the league. In Edmonton, where he played in four Stanley Cup wins, he's been the most valuable Finn after Jari Kurri. The Oilers drafted Tikkanen in 1983 in the fourth round and he joined the team for the 1985 playoffs straight from the World Championship tournament in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

Two years later, when the Oilers were looking for a third man to round out the team's first line, he got the opportunity to play alongside Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri. The three seasons between 1986 and 1989, when he occupied left wing on the line with his famous teammates, were his most productive in the NHL, earning him 78, 74 and 78 points respectively.

With the departure of Gretzky from the Oilers, Tikkanen's role became even more important. In 1990, when the Alberta team captured the Cup a fourth time, their first without the illustrious number 99, Tikkanen had a truly great series with 24 points in 22 playoff games.

The next stage of his NHL career was with the New York Rangers. It started out in a rather dramatic fashion, with Tikkanen playing against the Edmonton Oilers. His old club had traded him only four hours earlier on March 17, 1993, in a swap for American center Doug Weight. In the Big Apple, Tikkanen was again in the right place at the right time, helping the Rangers end their 54-year Stanley Cup drought.

After New York came the journeyman stage of his career when he moved from one NHL city to another. The first stop was St. Louis. The following season, 1995-96, he started out in St. Louis but was traded twice, first to the New Jersey Devils and then to the Vancouver Canucks. The next year Vancouver sent him back to the Rangers and then followed a season split between the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals. With the Capitals, he came close to yet another team victory when they won the conference title and went into the playoff finals with high hopes, only to be thwarted by the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings. For his last campaign in the NHL, he went back to the New York Rangers for a third stint, but trouble with his knees prevented him from giving his usual stellar performance.

Tikkanen embraced the new millennium in style. In the 1999-2000 season, he returned to his first love, Jokerit Helsinki.


REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1981-82 Regina Blues SJHL 59 38 37 75 216
1981-82 Regina Pats WHL 2 0 0 0 0
1981-82 Finland EJC-A 5 1 3 4 2
1982-83 HIFK Helsinki Jr. Fin-Jr. 30 34 31 65 104 4 4 3 7 10
1982-83 HIFK Helsinki Finland 1 0 0 0 2
1982-83 Finland WJC-A 7 2 3 5 4
1982-83 Finland EJC-A 5 2 1 3 14
1983-84 HIFK Helsinki Jr. Fin-Jr. 6 5 9 14 13 4 4 3 7 8
1983-84 Olympia Finland 1 0 0 0 0
1983-84 HIFK Helsinki Finland 36 19 11 30 30 2 0 0 0 0
1983-84 Finland WJC-A 7 8 3 11 12
1984-85 HIFK Helsinki Jr. Fin-Jr. 2 2 0 2 12
1984-85 HIFK Helsinki Finland 36 21 33 54 42
1984-85 Finland WJC-A 7 7 12 19 10
1984-85 Edmonton Oilers NHL 3 0 0 0 2
1984-85 Finland WEC-A 10 4 5 9 12
1985-86 Edmonton Oilers NHL 35 7 6 13 28 +5 8 3 2 5 7
1985-86 Nova Scotia Oilers AHL 15 4 8 12 17
1986-87 Edmonton Oilers NHL 76 34 44 78 120 +44 21 7 2 9 22
1986-87 NHL All-Stars RV-87 2 0 1 1 2
1987-88 Finland Can-Cup 5 0 1 1 6
1987-88 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 23 51 74 153 +21 19 10 17 27 72
1988-89 Edmonton Oilers NHL 67 31 47 78 92 +10 7 1 3 4 12
1988-89 Finland WEC-A 8 4 4 8 14
1989-90 Edmonton Oilers NHL 79 30 33 63 161 +17 22 13 11 24 26
1990-91 Edmonton Oilers NHL 79 27 42 69 85 +22 18 12 8 20 24
1991-92 Finland Can-Cup 6 2 2 4 6
1991-92 Edmonton Oilers NHL 40 12 16 28 44 -8 16 5 3 8 8
1992-93 Edmonton Oilers NHL 66 14 19 33 76 -11
1992-93 New York Rangers NHL 15 2 5 7 18 -13
1992-93 Finland WC-A 6 0 0 0 2
1993-94 New York Rangers NHL 83 22 32 54 114 +5 23 4 4 8 34
1994-95 HIFK Helsinki Finland 19 2 11 13 16
1994-95 St. Louis Blues NHL 43 12 23 35 22 +13 7 2 2 4 20
1995-96 St. Louis Blues NHL 11 1 4 5 18 +1
1995-96 New Jersey Devils NHL 9 0 2 2 4 -6
1995-96 Vancouver Canucks NHL 38 13 24 37 14 +6 6 3 2 5 2
1995-96 Finland WC-A 1 0 0 0 0
1996-97 Vancouver Canucks NHL 62 12 15 27 66 -9
1996-97 New York Rangers NHL 14 1 2 3 6 0 15 9 3 12 26
1997-98 Florida Panthers NHL 28 1 8 9 16 -7
1997-98 Washington Capitals NHL 20 2 10 12 2 -4 21 3 3 6 20
1997-98 Finland Olympics 6 1 1 2 0
1998-99 New York Rangers NHL 32 0 3 3 38 -5
1999-00 Jokerit Helsinki Finland 43 10 13 23 85 11 1 6 7 10
1999-00 Finland WC-A 9 2 1 3 10 +2
2000-01 ESC Moskitos Essen Germany 46 8 21 29 81
2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05 Anyang Halla AsiaHL 30 8 17 25 58
NHL Totals 877 244 386 630 1077 186 72 60 132 275


WJC-A All-Star Team (1985) Traded to NY Rangers by Edmonton for Doug Weight, March 17, 1993. Traded to St. Louis by NY Rangers with Doug Lidster for Petr Nedved, July 24, 1994. Traded to New Jersey by St. Louis for New Jersey's 3rd round pick (later traded to Colorado - Colorado selected Ville Nieminen) in 1997 NHL Draft, November 1, 1995. Traded to Vancouver by New Jersey for Vancouver's 2nd round pick (Wes Mason) in 1996 NHL Draft, November 23, 1995. Traded to NY Rangers by Vancouver with Russ Courtnall for Sergei Nemchinov and Brian Noonan, March 8, 1997. Signed as a free agent by Florida, September 17, 1997. Traded to Washington by Florida for Dwayne Hay and future considerations, March 9, 1998. Signed as a free agent by NY Rangers, October 9, 1998.
Officially announced retirement, April 19, 2001.
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