January 05 2014 10:45AM
When young men make the transition from junior to pro, there's a period of adjustment. A player like Martin Gernat (in photo) went from being one of the oldest players on WHL ice to playing against men 15 years his senior overnight. It takes some time to work that through—sometimes an entire year—but the OKC Barons splits show some very good signs for Martin Gernat and Oilers fans.
- Gernat in October-November: Bakersfield (ECHL) 3, 0-1-1; OKC (AHL) 11, 0-3-3 -4
- Gernat in December-January: 13, 2-7-9 +3
- WITH THE BARONS: 24, 2-10-12 -1
Gernat came from the same hometown as Martin Marincin and has some similarities in style, so the Oilers are likely to follow the same path with Gernat as they did with the other Slovakian. Coach Todd Nelson hasn't used him on the power play as much as we'd think (Gernat got his first AHL PP assist on Friday night, all other points have been at even strength) but that is likely to come.
Earlier this season, Jonathan Willis gave us a terrific view into Gernat as a new pro:
- Jonathan Willis: Martin Gernat’s been playing mostly third-pairing minutes (when he plays) and he’s been okay. His talent is obvious, much as it was with Marincin a year ago; he’s big and fast and gifted with the puck. With that said, he’s also a chaotic defender – again, it’s difficult not to compare him to Marincin as a rookie pro – and he’s only really shown himself ready for the minutes he’s been given, no more.
We can see that scouting report reflected in the October-November numbers: not a lot of trust from the coach, and if anyone is sent down from the big club then he's off to Bakersfield to play. That's completely normal, nothing unexpected here.
- Anton Lander after Gernat's 2 goal game last night: “He's played in Europe and Canada but I've been in the same situation. Here it's different rules, a different system. Everything is new. Everyone knows he has great hands. It was great to see him score his first goal.”
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
- Brad Hunt: “You see them getting better every day. Guys like (David) Musil, (Martin) Gernat and (Oscar) Klefbom are doing awesome for first-year guys. Guys like (Brandon) Davidson, (Taylor) Fedun and myself, we're second-year guys.”
Prospects never develop in a straight line, and there's a lot of chaos to be ironed out of Martin Gernat's game. However, one main question—will he bring his offensive game with him from junior—appears to be on a good track. If the Barons give him more power-play time, Gernat could post a dramatic statistical improvement in the season's second half.
Photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved