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.