Farm Report

Jonathan Willis
October 21 2008 10:56AM

Coming Down the Pipe! reported yesterday that the Springfield Falcons have sent Bryan Lerg down to the Stockton Thunder for four games, and recalled Josef Hrabal, who should return from injury in the very near future.

I agree with Guy Flaming’s assessment on his blog that this move wasn’t made because of poor play on Lerg’s part, but rather because of the need to get him playing at all – Springfield has a ton of top AHL players (Schremp, Brule, Trukhno, Corazzini, Potulny, etc.) and at this point there isn’t enough room to get a decent look at all of them. Corazzini, for example, led the Grand Rapids Griffins in scoring last season, and is currently playing on the third line with Tim Sestito and Guillaume Lefebvre. There just isn’t enough room to play everybody.

On defense, things are similarly crowded. Lowetide was nice enough to do an update on Sunday, and I thought it would be nice to look at the stats lines of the guys who have played in less than all five games:

Sebastien Bisaillon: 4GP-1G-0A-1PT, +3 Cody Wild: 3GP-1G-0A-1PT, +1 Mike Gabinet: 3GP-0G-1A-1PT, +1

Those are decent numbers, and those players can’t all find their way into the lineup. The situation will get even murkier when European veteran Hrabal returns from injury.

Where I’m going with all of this is how important a farm team is to a parent club. The Oilers were without a farm team up until last season, when they entered into an agreement with Springfield, something that damaged a number of prospects careers (including current backup Jeff Deslauriers). It also undoubtedly prevented them from signing undrafted players, because they would need to find a spot for them. This year, for example, where would a guy like Bryan Lerg or Guillaume Lefebvre play? Would Josef Hrabal have come over from Europe if he had no assurance of getting playing time?

The thing is, with a farm team the Oilers decide who plays. If Devan Dubnyk has a rough game, they can start him in the next one because they know that his development is more important than minor-league level wins. Jeff Deslauriers certainly didn’t have that luxury back in 2005-06, given that Montreal was interested in developing Jaroslav Halak, Yann Danis, and Olivier Michaud on the same AHL team where he was playing.

The other important thing is depth. If the Oilers run into injury trouble, there are at least six forwards and three defensemen who wouldn’t look out of place on an NHL roster. It’s a much better situation than the one the Oilers were in two years ago.

- Jonathan Willis. Mmm mmm good.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 baggedmilk
October 21 2008, 11:54AM
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It's good to see those little pea pods we planted oh so long ago finally getting the chance to play regular minutes. Having Dubnyk playing regularly and not having to worry about being bounced down to the ECHL makes me happier than finding out Madonna sleeps in a rubber suit. Love stains be gone.

-baggedmilk

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#2 Jonathan Willis
October 21 2008, 06:43PM
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If that’s the case why are the Falcons a rather pedestrian 2-2-1?

I'm not sure actually. Here's a possible list of answers:

1) It's too early to tell. 2) The defense *coughChorneycough* is young and error-prone. 3) Dubnyk's been inconsistent (to put it nicely)

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#3 B.C.B.
October 21 2008, 11:43PM
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Yes it is nice to have an AHL club, but don't the Oilers own the rights to an AHL club (the old roadrunners) that are in suspension.

Couldn't we have set that club up somewhere after the lock out and not had this problem? does anyone have a suggestion on why the oilers have a dormant club? Again why do the Oilers have an agreement with the Falcons (which we can assume they pay the falcons money for) if they own a club not being in used? Couldn't that club find a home in Ontario (such as Brampton or Kitchner) or Alberta (Red Deer) or in Seattle or Portland?

Just throwing the idea that the delayed development was caused by the oilers mismanaging their farm team situation, rather then the fault of Canadiens or the Pens.

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#4 Antony Ta
October 22 2008, 03:15PM
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Any news on Brule's injury?

Good on Trukhno and Schremp so far. If Dubnyk find consistency the Falcons could do as well as #1-3 in their division.

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#5 Jonathan Willis
October 22 2008, 05:10PM
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Just throwing the idea that the delayed development was caused by the oilers mismanaging their farm team situation, rather then the fault of Canadiens or the Pens.

Oh, there's no doubt about it. It was an unacceptable situation from a development perspective, and the blame really only lies in one place.

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#6 Wanye Gretz
October 22 2008, 09:35PM
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"the blame really only lies in one place"

I know exactly what you are thinking Jonathan.

It falls squarely on the shoulders of Alan Alda formerly of M*A*S*H

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