September 12 2012 12:08PM
Unless there is a massive change in the next four days, and we avoid another lockout, expect the Oilers to assign Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz, Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Fedun, Teemu Hartikainen, Colten Teubert and Anton Lander to OKC before Saturday. Taylor Hall will not be on that list because he is injured, and you can't assign an injured player to the minors.
The Oilers have yet to sit down with RNH and Eberle to discuss them playing in OKC, but the window to assign them closes Saturday at midnight and they will take advantage of it and then decide later if they will actually play. Nugent-Hopkins only has 62 pro games, so it would make sense that he plays in OKC, if there is a lockout.
Eberle might need to be persuaded a bit, but history shows a stint in the AHL shouldn't hurt him.
During the 2004/2005 lockout some of today's best offensive players played in the AHL, and then put up some excellent stats in the NHL in 2005/2006.
Here are a few examples of guys who flourished after their stint in the AHL.
Jason Spezza had played 1 1/2 years in the NHL prior to the lockout, but he went down and led the AHL in scoring. He then returned to the NHL and averaged 90 points over the next three seasons.
Eric Staal, like Nugent-Hopkins, had one year of NHL experience before his year in the AHL. He returned to put up 100 points, another 28 points in the playoffs and won a Stanley Cup. He has never scored fewer than 70 points in any season since his stint in the AHL.
|2004-05||Lowell Lock Monsters||AHL||77||26||51||77||88||37|
A former Oiler didn't have a great AHL season with the Roadrunners, however, when he returned from the lockout he put up career numbers with the Oilers. Jarret Stoll had his two most productive seasons after his stint in the AHL.
There are many others who spent that season in the AHL after playing parts of one or two seasons in the NHL.
Jay Bouwmeester, Nathan Horton, Marc-Andre Fleury, Joffrey Lupul, Dustin Brown, Brent Burns,Ryan Kesler, Joni Pitkanen and Mike Cammalleri (He was 2nd in AHL in 2005 with 109 points).
Then there were a few guys who likely would have played in the NHL in 2004/2005, but instead made their pro debuts in the AHL, like Cam Ward, Tomas Vanek, Zack Parise and Ryan Suter.
I've always wondered if Rick Nash would have been better off to play in the AHL in 2004 rather than in Davos. Nash had two full NHL seasons under his belt, and had come off a 41-goal campaign when he elected to play pond hockey in Davos rather than a more NHL-like game in the AHL.
|2002-03||Columbus Blue Jackets||NHL||74||17||22||39||78||-27|
|2003-04||Columbus Blue Jackets||NHL||80||41||16||57||87||-35|
|2005-06||Columbus Blue Jackets||NHL||54||31||23||54||51||5|
|2006-07||Columbus Blue Jackets||NHL||75||27||30||57||73||-8|
|2007-08||Columbus Blue Jackets||NHL||80||38||31||69||95||2|
|2008-09||Columbus Blue Jackets||NHL||78||40||39||79||52||11|
Nash hasn't scored 41 goals since. Some will say his supporting cast in Columbus was never there, and that is fair, but Nash went for the money, rather than develop his game and I wonder if that impacted his overall game. Just a thought.
KIDS NEED TO PLAY
It will be an easy sell to convince RNH to go to OKC, with only 62 pro games under his belt, but I hope the Oilers and Eberle realize that a stint in OKC will likely help him rather than hinder him. I believe the lockout won't last very long, but even a short stint in the AHL, rather than not playing can only benefit them. Not to mention how much they could help develop the other young guys around them.
- Let's say the lockout stretches into November/December and Hall becomes healthy. While the Oilers couldn't assign him to the minors, they could actually sign him to an AHL only contract. Signing an AHL only deal would be no different than signing in Europe, so while Hall won't be on the list by Saturday, there is a chance, albeit a slim one, that he could end up in OKC if the lockout lasts longer than any of us want.
- The Oilers will likely also assign: Cameron Abney, Marc Arcobello, Tyler Bunz, Dane Byers, Philippe Cornet, Yann Danis, Brandon Davidson, Curtis Hamilton, Tanner House, Martin Marincin, Ryan Martindale, Kristian Pelss, Tyler Pitlick, Alex Plante, Olivier Roy, Antti Tyrvainen and Chris Vande Velde.
- What the hell was Eric Tillman thinking today? He gave up a 1st and 4th round pick for a KICKER. Are you kidding me? The Esks dealt K, Derek Schiavone and a 1st and 4th rounder in 2013 to Montreal for K, Brody McKnight. That is almost as bad as the Ricky Ray trade. I like Tillman, he's very open to the fans, but what was he thinking on this deal?
- If my number crunching is accurate the Eskimos are in salary cap trouble due to all their injuries. Don't be surprised if they try and dump some salary in the next week.