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.