Minor-League News & Notes: Don’t Expect Springfield to be the Oilers’ AHL Affiliate Next Season

Jonathan Willis
March 02 2009 08:55AM

perugini

I very much doubt that Oilers’ prospects will be calling Springfield home next season. Back in November, I commented on a report in NewsOK which suggested the Oilers were considering Oklahoma City as their AHL affiliate. At the time, I went through the lengthy list of reasons that Oklahoma was a better location than Springfield, but in brief, here are the key factors:

  • Location: Oklahoma City is 1000KM closer to Edmonton and 1500KM closer to Stockton than Springfield is.
  • Arenas: The CHL Blazers play in the Ford Center, an 18,000-seat facility built in 2002. The Falcons currently play in a 7,000-seat facility built in 1972.
  • Attendance: The CHL Blazers routinely outdraw the AHL Falcons, and one would think that AHL hockey would bring in more fans than CHL hockey.

In any case, NewsOK reported today that representatives from the Oilers were in Oklahoma City again this week. It’s probably worth noting that the paper contradicted itself – in November, they claimed that Oilers’ representatives had been to the city that month, and today they said that team brass hadn’t visited the city since the summer. In any case, there are a lot of good reasons for the Oilers to be interested in Oklahoma City, and it would surprise me if they weren’t considering moving their affiliate there.

A second report, from the Winnipeg Free Press, also makes it seem likely that the Oilers will place their affiliate elsewhere. At the moment, the Philadelphia Flyers are looking for a new home for their affiliate, the Phantoms, and the Dallas Stars are hoping to bring an AHL team to Austin, Texas. What makes things difficult for the Stars is that the AHL can’t supply them with a team – the only dormant AHL franchise is the one owned by the Edmonton Oilers. The article states that the Oilers are unwilling to sell their rights to that franchise.

I personally see only one likely option – the Oilers would like to re-activate their franchise (quite possibly in Oklahoma City, although other possibilities exist) and end their affiliation with Springfield. It makes sense, for all the reasons listed above.

Stockton’s Slowed Down, Andrew Perugini Hasn’t

Since I updated Stockton’s record on February 9th, they’ve suffered a mini-slump, but undrafted free agent Andrew Perugini has continued his excellent play.

Last night, Perugini made 39 saves en route to a 2-1 victory over Idaho – his 12th win in 14 games. Teammate Bryan Pitton, a 2006 Oilers draft pick, has lost seven in a row. Here are their respective stats lines:

  • Perugini: 26GP, 16W-8L-2OTL, 2.65 GAA, .916 SV%
  • Pitton: 29GP, 9W-17L-2OTL, 3.37 GAA, .889 SV%

Back in September, I suggested that Perugini should be considered ahead of Pitton based on his OHL save percentage. I don’t think there’s much doubt of it now. On the other hand, .916 isn’t a great ECHL save percentage, so perhaps the gap between Pitton and Perugini reflects more on the former’s struggles than the latter’s abilities.

Glenn Fisher Up and Down – Right Now, He’s Up

The Oilers drafted Glenn Fisher back in 2002, and he’s had a bizarre career to date. He played four seasons at the University of Denver, posting ugly numbers in his first three seasons before emerging as an elite NCAA goaltender in 2006-07.

In 2007-08, Fisher posted a .903 SV% at the ECHL level, and the Oilers signed him to a minor-league deal, taking him off their list of 50 NHL contracts. This season, Fisher has spent most of the year as the little used (3 games) backup to Devan Dubnyk. When Deslauriers was assigned to Springfield on a conditioning stint, Fisher was sent to the ECHL, where he put up an .895 SV% in three games with Stockton.

With the acquisition of Dany Sabourin, the Oilers needed to find somewhere else to park Fisher, so they lent him to Las Vegas of the ECHL. In eight games in Las Vegas, Fisher has gone 4-3-1 with a 2.00 GAA and a .941 SV%. Las Vegas needed Fisher because their last two goaltenders, John DeCaro (10-4-0, 1.94 GAA, .933 SV%) and Kevin Lalande (9-8-2, 2.39 GAA, .925 SV%) were brought up to the AHL by Portland and Quad City.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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 The Towel Boy
March 02 2009, 09:36AM
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Sounds like a solid business move to make the switch to Oklahoma.

Just curious of the logistics of it all. If the Oilers did move their affiliation, would the Falcons still exist in Springfield? They'd just have no NHL affiliation? (and no players?). Also, if they move to Oklahoma...somebody starts up an AHL team there and the Oilers affiliate themselves with that team? Or do they move the existing double A team up to the triple A AHL league?

Also, how do the Oilers have a dormant AHL franchise? Where'd that come from?

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#2 Thenosebleedsection.
March 02 2009, 10:52AM
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Good review. My only question is in regards to Fisher I heard from his soon to be father in law that his contract is done this year. Do you know if the team is going to sign him back or whats going on? if you dont know thats all good I should be able to find out once the season is done and he is back home.

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#3 Jonathan Willis
March 02 2009, 10:54AM
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Thenosebleedsection. wrote:

Good review. My only question is in regards to Fisher I heard from his soon to be father in law that his contract is done this year. Do you know if the team is going to sign him back or whats going on? if you dont know thats all good I should be able to find out once the season is done and he is back home.

I'd really expected that the Oilers would dump Fisher after this season, but with his recent performance anything is possible. On the whole, the smart money says the Oilers don't retain Fisher.

Regardless, his play of late should get him a job somewhere next year.

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#4 doritogrande
March 02 2009, 11:18AM
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Pretty sure they'd have to undergo some legal procedures to terminate the deal they have with Springfield. Unless I'm mistaken, they signed a 3-year affiliation with the club. While it certainly hasn't been an ideal partnership for either party, from Springfield's perspective having an NHL affiliate is much better than having no affiliate. I don't see them being quick on the draw to sever ties with the Oilers.

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#5 Jonathan Willis
March 02 2009, 11:19AM
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doritogrande wrote:

Pretty sure they’d have to undergo some legal procedures to terminate the deal they have with Springfield. Unless I’m mistaken, they signed a 3-year affiliation with the club. While it certainly hasn’t been an ideal partnership for either party, from Springfield’s perspective having an NHL affiliate is much better than having no affiliate. I don’t see them being quick on the draw to sever ties with the Oilers.

I could be wrong on this, but my understanding was that either franchise (Edmonton or Springfield) could pull out of the deal at the end of this season without consequences.

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#6 Poo Czar
March 02 2009, 11:58AM
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As I like a good dose of bad taste I herby submit to name the new team the "Oklahoma City Bombers".

Third jersey logo? Panel van with a fuse!

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#7 TV
March 02 2009, 12:04PM
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@ Poo Czar:

How is that supposed to be comical in any way whatsoever..?

That is about as tastless as it gets mate.

x6

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#8 the Menace
March 02 2009, 12:17PM
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TV wrote:

@ Poo Czar: How is that supposed to be comical in any way whatsoever..? That is about as tastless as it gets mate. x6

mate?

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#9 Matt N
March 02 2009, 12:21PM
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@ Jonathon

In your opinion, why have the Falcon's done so poorly this year? Lack of talent is the obvious answer, but is the Oilers minor league talent so much worse than other NHL teams? In the letter issued by the owner of the Falcons he mentioned something about "good players costing money". Have the Oil spent less on their roster than other teams?

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#10 Peter Pan
March 02 2009, 12:43PM
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Can we have one damn year where our farm situation is not disfunctional please?

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#11 Jonathan Willis
March 02 2009, 02:52PM
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@ Matt N:

It's really tough to get accurate salary data on AHL players. While NHL numbers are posted publicly, most AHL numbers are not (at least, as far as I can look), so it's impossible for me to say if the Oilers are over/under paying for players.

That said, I think coaching was an issue (things have improved under Daum), I think certain players aren't giving it their all (Schremp, among others) and other players are being underrecognized (Wild, Bisaillon). Additionally, Truitt seemed determined to chuck the raw prospects into the fire (Chorney was facing the tough matchups from day one) and that cost them dearly.

There's a grab bag of problems.

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#12 Scott
March 24 2009, 08:33PM
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This is starting to take off like wildfire here again. Given the Ford Center is going to overhauled after the current round ball and hockey seasons are done. There is also the opportunity for the Myriad(aka Cox Business Convention Center) to get overhauled, in case the Ford Center is unavailable for certain nights.

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