June 14 2014 11:54AM
The Oklahoma City Barons will have a different look next season, as the Edmonton Oilers spent the last nine months making decisions on several hopefuls. The team will need to add replacements and make room for the new pro prospects, making for some very interesting times. The fun is already underway, let's have a look.
A lot of Oiler kids moved out of town over the past few months. Here's a quick update on what happened:
- D Denis Grebeshkov—signed with KHL team Vityaz Podolsk
- D Phil Larsen—signed with KHL team Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk
- L Roman Horak—signed with KHL team Vityaz Podolsk
- D Steve MacIntyre—retired
- L Ryan Martindale—traded for R Steve Pinizzotto January 17, 2014
- L Linus Omark—dealt to Buffalo, went AWOL. Will play for Jokerit (KHL) next year.
- G Chet Pichard—signed with team in Denmark, Odense
Some of last year's Barons need new contracts, and those contracts may not come.
- L Ben Eager—played 84 NHL games during his Oiler contract. He's UFA.
- D Taylor Fedun—got a cup of coffee in the NHL last season, good player. UFA.
- G Richard Bachman—Effective goaltender, RFA.
- L Curtis Hamilton—Entry-level deal a disaster. RFA
- R Tyler Pitlick—Showed more promise this season, played in NHL. RFA
- R Andrew Miller—Went 3-12-15 in final 15GP with OKC. RFA
Ben Eager is likely heading elsewhere, I hope he's okay—he lost significant time to concussion issues as an Oiler employee—but after him, I think you can make a case for Edmonton signing the rest of the group. Curtis Hamilton is the least likely to be signed, but he showed flashes last season and went 5-1-6 in a four game stretch beginning in late January.
I would think Bachman, Pitlick and Miller are locks to be re-signed. Fedun may wish to pursue employment elsewhere, but the Oilers could also sign him to a one-way deal and solve that worry.
A few players have re-signed recently, others are working through their entry level deals.
- Anton Lander—signed a one-way deal for $600,000 and he'll make the same total should the Oilers send him to Oklahoma territory. I suspect he's a lock for the NHL roster, he took a small haircut from the previous NHL portion of the deal but received a one-way contract and that's a big damn deal.
- Mark Arcobello—signed a similar deal to Lander, and he could (imo) have done much better in free agency. It's too much to state this for a fact, but it does seem as though Craig MacTavish has some sway with these guys. Arcobello earned an entire season in the NHL last year, and he didn't get it. Arco could have pursued another team, and yet he did not, preferring instead to sign a reasonable deal with Edmonton. It's impressive.
- Steve Pinizzotto—The man who came over in the Ryan Martindale trade just signed a new deal and there's all kinds of interesting items in it. The contract pays him $225,000 in the AHL, a big money deal for that league, and $650,000 in the NHL. I'd say there's a very good chance he spends extended time on the NHL roster this coming season.
- Dillon Simpson—Young man improved a great deal in college and may be ahead of some pro's by the time things settle in this fall/winter. A definite prospect to watch, college blue often spend less than a season in the minors.
- Bogdan Yakimov—Straight from Yak City like a cannonball. Huge center is an absolute load, very interesting to see if he can deliver in the AHL at 20.
- Mitchell Moroz—A famous prospect now, it's important to remember we should be looking for progress during his entry-level deal, not a quick recall to the NHL this November.
- Jordan Oesterle—College signing has some nice things on his resume.
- Jujhar Khaira—Impressed in pro debut, he's a big forward who shows promise.
This list and the one below contain most of the farm workers we should be paying attention to this season. I'm hopeful we see strong seasons from Simpson, Yakimov and Khaira, plus the NHL men pushing for more playing time and having success.
CONTINUING CURRENT DEALS
- Brad Hunt—Under contract for another year, fascinating chaos defensive prospect.
- Will Acton—Played extended periods in Edmonton early and late, depth center.
- Martin Gernat—Talented, and raw, NHL defense prospect.
- Brandon Davidson—Just keeps rolling along, gaining experience. Still very much a prospect.
- Ryan Hamilton—Slow-footed member of the Marlie mafia has another year left.
- David Musil—Continues to impress with intelligent defense, and show below average speed.
- Travis Ewanyk—Checking center with grit, very little offense.
- Kale Kessy—Continues his development as a tough winger.
- Laurent Brossoit—Terrific ECHL season, will need to have sustain at AHL level.
- Frans Tuohimaa—Goaltending position uncertain, he's an uncertain part of the uncertainty.
- Tyler Bunz—Injuries have impacted his career, as has ineffective play.
This is the group that is either having their skills ground into usable parts (no mistakes=good) or being used as roster fillers until prospects eat their lunch. Hasn't been a lot of that in OKC, truth be told.
WHAT HAVE YOU HEARD?
There are a few players who spent time with the Barons one year ago who are blowing in the wind.
- Joey Leach—Big 22-year old defender spent a cup of coffee in OKC and the season in Bakersfield.
- Josh Winquist—Signed to an ATO end of March, have not heard if he's coming back.
- Ty Rimmer—Played three effective games for Barons, rest in ECHL. Interesting player.
- Austin Fyten—Played most of the season with the Barons.
My sincere thanks to Patricia Teter from Artful Puck for her help in this part of the Barons roster situation.
These are men who are signed to contracts for next season by the Barons.
- Mitch Holmberg—62 goals in the WHL last season. Lordy.
- C. J. Ludwig—Interesting defensive prospect from Northern Michigan University.
- Graeme Craig—A monster defenseman out of the WHL.
- Matt Ford—Effective AHL winger signed with the Barons. He'll play top 6F role.
- Kellen Jones—Small, skill forward with plenty of both.
- Connor Jones—Rinse, repeat.
I believe that's the group. Of course, we could see Oscar Klefbom or Jesse Joensuu in Oklahoma City this fall, but I believe we have them surrounded. This group is very important to Edmonton's future, they have the jacks and kings, and traditionally it's the AHL that produces the sixes and sevens and nines.
The Oilers need to procure and develop useful players. Are there NHL players here? We wait.
(Photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).