Oklahoma City Barons 2010-11

There’s some excitement in Oilers Nation with regard to this year’s minor league team. The Oilers are spending actual dollars on making certain the Barons are competitive, and that has the added advantage of giving the parent team some strong options during the regular season.

Oilers fans know Injuries and ineffectiveness can reduce roster depth in a heartbeat. We’re quickly arriving at a point where we can (with some confidence) list the likely Barons in their first AHL season.  

Goal (an extreme weakness, Oilers need to address the issue before training camp)

  • Bryan Pitton (AHL $: 55,000). Tall, lean goalie 2 years pro experience. Most of that has been in the ECHL, with only 8 AHL games on his resume (56 in the ECHL).

The available AHL calibre goalies are drying up. Yann Danis is still available, but he won’t come cheap, plus there’s the waiver wire to worry about with 4 goalies on the roster who could play in the NHL next season (Khabibulin, JDD, DD, Danis if he signs). (Updated info courtesy Racki, below).

Defense (nice depth here, Oilers have addressed weakness in a real way)

  1. Shawn Belle (AHL$: 150,000). A nice size/speed combination and a "tools" guy who, at 25, might make a push for the big league roster. If he’s a Baron, Belle will be a big part of the team.
  2. Richard Petiot (AHL$: 105,000). This is a player we should keep our eyes on. Petiot (mobile, good passer) has some negatives (mostly coverage) according to his scouting report. However, he has played 242 AHL games (plus a baker’s dozen in the NHL) and might get called up over the kids if he shows well.
  3. Alex Plante (AHL$: 65,000). Showed more improvement last season than any other first year pro on the Falcons. Suffered a concussion, so it is a concern. If healthy, he could be the first callup to the Oilers.
  4. Taylor Chorney (AHL$: 62,500). Fine skater, Chorney appears to be Poti-lite. John Short had a theory about American kids who came through high school-college: they were so good at those levels the puck was always on their stick. When the arrive at the pro level, the adjustment is monumental. I think Chorney needs a full season in the minors to regain his confidence and adjust to the physical nature of the game.
  5. Jeff Petry (AHL$: 62,500). Mobile defender with a nice range of skills. A chaotic pro debut at the end of last season combined with Taylor Chorney’s wonky adjustment to pro likely means a full season in Oklahoma. This is one of the prospects Oilers fans should watch very closely this season.
  6. Johan Motin (AHL: $50,000). There is some anecdotal evidence that suggests Rob Daum moved Alex Plante up the depth chart when injuries and callups impacted the minor league team a year ago. Motin remained at the lower end of the depth chart (while remaining a regular), and this would represent a tell in terms of how the organization sees these two players at this time.
  7. AHL SIGNING: Jake Taylor. A veteran AHL defender, Taylor should play top 4 minutes and give the coach an opportunity to spot the kids and make them earn playing time. His resume includes over 300 AHL games (676 pims in those games).

The Oilers might sign some more depth (possibly on a level similar to their own free agents from a year ago–Dean Arsene, Matt Nickerson) but there’s a nice combination of experience, skill, size and toughness in that group. I didn’t include Theo Peckham on this list due to his waiver risk. Some feel it isn’t much of a risk, so by all means include him in the conversation if you wish.

Forwards (the best group at F we’ve seen in years)

  1. L Alexandre Giroux (One way: $500,000). Eye-popping AHL numbers come at a big cost (one-way deal, as noted by speeds below). He could sell a lot of tickets in Okla City, and he could certainly make the big club with a strong camp (although that runs counter to the rebuild). Exciting signing.  
  2. C Brad Morin (AHL$: 225,000). Former point-per-game player in the AHL returns from solid seasons in Sweden and gets a strong 2-way deal from the Oilers. He’s undersized but very skilled, and he might take a run at making the big club this fall. The Oilers C depth chart isn’t so strong that he can be dismissed as a candidate.
  3. R Ben Ondrus (AHL$: 130,000): They used to call guys like this "robust, energy line players." He’ll mix it up, come to the aid of his linemates and has plenty of minor league experience. In 392 AHL games, he has 64 goals, so we shouldn’t expect an impact player at the AHL level.
  4. L Greg Stewart (AHL$: 105,000). Big, tough winger who is an actual player (as opposed to being just a knuckle dragger), but–like Ondrus–he isn’t going to help you offensively.
  5. C Ryan O’Marra (AHL$: 70,000): Oilers like his grit and tenacity, and apparently believe the offense will come. He did have his best pro season in 09-10, and has embraced the checker role.
  6. L Magnus Pääjärvi (AHL$: 67,500). He should make the big club this fall, but it is also true that MPS will have more adjusting to do than Eberle. Should he spend time in Okla City, I’d expect some impressive numbers.
  7. R Jordan Eberle (AHL$: 65,000). I’m listing him here because there’s a chance he spends some time in the minors this season. Eberle’s Desjardins AHL equivalency is 80gp, 30-34-64 so if he starts in the minors and scores at that clip it won’t be long before the cell phone rings.
  8. L Linus Omark (AHL$: 65,000). Timing is everything. Had Omark signed a year ago there’s every reason to believe he would have either made the club or been called up when the locusts arrived. This season, he’s Davy Crockett at the Alamo. He has a good chance to be a legend in Oklahoma by season’s end, or he might get called up when one of the kids struggles.
  9. L Teemu Hartikainen (AHL$: 65,000). Big Finn has improved his foot speed and many regard him as a strong candidate for "6th round steal" from the 2008 draft (that was the Magnificent Bastard’s 1st draft as chief scout). Could surprise, although he will most likely spend the season in the minors.
  10. L Matt Marquardt (AHL$: 65,000). He’s big, doesn’t score, check or take penalties. Maybe he’s a goalie.
  11. C Chris Vande Velde (AHL$: 62,500). Big center who won a lot of faceoffs in the NCAA, he also has enough skill to be considered a candidate for top 6F time down the line (NHLE for 09-10: 82gp, 13-21-34). He is one college prospect who could surprise (Petry may too) and make the big club in a depth role if he performs well in pre-season. Unlikely, but he fills a need in a weak area on the roster.
  12. L Philippe Cornet (AHL$: 55,000). The classic "tweener" is going to be hard pressed to make the Barons out of training camp. He might find a home on a scoring line (he has skill) or an energy line (he has gumption) but we shouldn’t be surprised to see him land in Stockton this fall.
  13. C Milan Kytnar (AHL$: 55,000). Stayed an extra year in junior but I don’t know that it improved his chances to make the Barons. He does have some defensive pluses on his resume, so Kytnar could surprise. Still, Stockton seems like a more likely place to send his mail.
  14. AHL Signing: Colin McDonald. Signed a minor league contract and has some range of skills. Can score some goals but is most likely to join O’Marra on a dedicated checking line in Okla City.

I think the Oilers will add some depth here, guys like Reddox (who is still an Oiler, he’s RFA but not yet signed) and his type. Should Eberle and MPS make the big club, this team won’t have a lot of skill on the wings beyond Giroux and Omark.

This is a much stronger group than a year ago, save for the goaltending. We should hear about a veteran AHL or European goalie being signed in the next few weeks. The Oilers have some real question marks in net at the NHL level, so expecting JDD or DD to start the season in the minors isn’t reasonable. And that’s without worrying over the waiver risk.The list of strong callup candidates is long and impressive up front: Morin, Giroux, the two kids who might make the big team in camp, Omark, Vande Velde, Hartikainen. Belle is the likely man on the blue.

Are they a playoff team? I have no idea. The Oilers need to finish the roster business before we can project that far down the line. However, they’ve done some nice things this summer.

  • erixon

    My hope is that we don’t go out and sign a veteran AHL type goalie. I think we have an opportunity to give a goalie with real potential a shot.

    Burke screwed Toronto for the next 20 years with the Kessel deal but one thing he’s done is add Gustavsson, Rynnas and Scrivens for free and one of them is likely to pan out as a #1.

    Instead we waste our time on guys like Denis and Valiquette? Such a waste.

    In baseball terms it’s like not being bothered signing free assets from Dominican Republic.

  • Troyboy

    Khabibulin is a total wild card this year, management are going to suffer through the three headed monster again until Bulin can prove he is back????? Concerns being has he trained at all this summer other tnan his liver? 60/40 this year his back reacts the same as last year. If you are Management don’t you have to sign JDD at whatever he is awarded? I can’t see Khabibulin being ready with all the extra ciricular crap going on and if he isn’t close. Do you give him the Souray treatment.(waivers). He is the only one who I can see playing for the Barons this winter!

  • If the Oilers put Khabibulin on waivers can he be brought up next off season without losing him to re-entry?

    I’m suggesting the Oilers eat this season of Khabibulin’s contract,

    hope he can go un-claimed,let him “rekhab” in OKC, and the Oilers squeeze 2 good season out of him.

    Or cut the loss now @ 1.85 for 3 yearsif he gets picked up …

  • Jamie B.

    We don’t want Roy in OKC this year. He has a chance to play for Canada at the World Juniors.

    (Edit: Yes, I realize he can’t go to the AHL, I’m just saying that’s a good thing.)

  • With a better AHL line up, it will help keep pressure on the NHL roster. Something that this team has never really had. With some capable players able to fill a spot on the NHL team, there can’t be any Nilsson or O’sullivan type players this year.

  • Oilchange64

    I know this is an Oiler site, but after a day of running around I get home, put on tv Edm 0 Wpg 23, Edm driving – fumble!!! – oh this could get ugly.

  • LT . . .

    FYI: Tambellini is basically ticking off the boxes from a template provided him by Rob Daum (before he found out he wasn’t being re-hired).

    Daum did a detailed assessment of 12 areas with the minor league roster that needed to be addressed and the kinds of players — those in the system and free agents — who could address those needs. If you saw the template and the names provided, you’d see this has been paint-by-numbers for Tambellini, who, I suspect, is going to look like he suddenly became a master at putting together an AHL roster.

    I was going to write a piece on this but ran out of time before going on vacation.

    • Jerk Store

      Robin, there were a few hints dropped that Daum may not be done with the Oilers. I had a couple of friends who played for Daum at the U of A. Their position was that Daum was unbelievably sound technically, but had the personality of a house plant. Obviously, that is not a prerequisite for being a coach (no one would accuse Scotty Bowman of being the life of the party) but that may be one of the reasons he did not get re-hired for the AHL job. Renney has indicated he may need someone in a technical role to bounce stuff off, look at tape, pre-scout, etc. Given the go-stop-go-stop relationship between the Oilers and Daum, a) would he be the right guy in that role and b) does he line up for yet one more shot with this organization?

      BTW, Lowetide, unbelievably ….er …. motivating photo. Who is organizing the mid-season roadie to OKC? There has to be a caption involving “sooner”, but for some reason I am having a tough time focusing.

    • Tambellini was consumed by the draft, buy-outs, and Quinn’s promotion/firing to have put an AHL roster like this together without significant help.

      The optics look horrible and irrefutable, hopefully Daum gets a ring ala Dale Tallon.

      Great post!

  • Lowetide

    Robin: Interesting. Thanks for that. Tambellini certainly looks impressive based on the AHL upgrade, too bad Daum didn’t reap any rewards for the good intel.

    Hopefully he lands on his feet.

  • @ Hemmertime

    [quote]I believe if he is incarcerated during the season we can cancel his contract since he can’t contractually live up to the obligation. So I am happier every time his trial is delayed. I haven’t seen anything about it in CBA though (unlike the NFL and NBA the NHL does not plan on a % of their players going to jail each year it appears).[/quote]

    I would not count on that. Something about the words ‘even if kidnapped by aliens’ when it comes to cap hit of over 35 contract comes to mind.

    If he retires, he counts. Why would contract cancelled for non-performance not count?

    Lou found the only loop-hole I know of. LTIR.

    • I would have to think that the cancelled contract wouldn’t count against the cap…

      However, I think the likelihood of Tambellini and the Oilers actually doing that is pretty damn slim. Don’t think anyone should get their hopes up.

  • And LTIR still counts against the cap, BTW.
    Only, LTIR allows the team to go over the cap by the amount of the injured player’s cap value.

    Over 35 counts against the cap even if kidnapped by aliens.

    Sorry to bring the sad tidings.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    With women like that at hockey games in Oklahoma….they can’t help but be successful. Wonder how much they would have to pay her to be seen at a few games?

    I feel bad for Rob Daum…felt there was a spot for him in the AHL or even with the Oil Kings….but the NHL is a small family and they take care of their own. How in the hell could they keep Buchberger and Smith over Daum. Bucky really impressed the hell out of last years bunch i’m sure.

  • @ Racki

    If he retires, he counts. Why is non-performance different?

    A 35+ contract is a cap hit even if the player joins a convent, or is kidnapped by aliens.

    I am not the first one to use this description. IIRC, an official of the NHL used the same. Ask Bob McKenzie.

    • I’m not going to argue it, because I’m not a lawyer, and the CBA is uninterpretable due to it’s cryptic, Nostradamus-like writing, and the many holes it has in it. It does seem pretty written in stone, and I’m definitely aware of the whole kidnapped by aliens reference. But does it still apply if the SPC doesn’t exist anymore, is I guess the question. I think there’s a difference between retirement or bailing to another league, etc. and shredding the contract up. But again, I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not going to argue that further.

      Anyways, for me it’s a moot point, since the Oilers would never exercise that, even if it were possible. It’s definitely a very rare occurrence that a team would execute a morals clause in any league. I don’t think it’s happened in the NHL. But apparently it’s happened in MLB: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1940090

      No idea what happened with the MLBPA’s appeal. But anyways, to sum up.. not sure if it’s at all possible, and the CBA is very easily misinterpretable by mere mortals, but the Oilers wouldn’t likely do it anyways.

  • Jerk Store

    page 203
    50.5 (d)(1)(B)(5)

    All Player Salary and Bonuses earned in a League
    Year by a Player who is in the second or later year
    of a multi-year SPC which was signed when the
    Player was age 35 or older (as of June 30 prior to
    the League Year in which the SPC is to be
    effective), but which Player is not on the Club’s
    Active Roster, Injured Reserve, Injured Non Roster
    or Non Roster, and [b]regardless of whether, or where,
    the Player is playing,[/b] except to the extent the Player
    is playing under his SPC in the minor leagues, in
    which case only the Player Salary and Bonuses in
    excess of $100,000 shall count towards the
    calculation of Averaged Club Salary

  • Dirty Thing

    has anyone thought of strudwick being a mentor to the kids in the ahl? as far as i’m concerned i’d rather not have him up on the big club. his attitude is repectable but his on-ice product…. ohhh man.

    • BarryS

      Strudwick in some sort of role like that in AHL may be of benefit to the club. Although I would miss his fights.

      I recall I think it was Rod Phillips calling a fight and yelling ” and Strudwick is throwing jackhammers!”. Even if he exposes himself, once Strudwick starts to throw, he doesn’t stop, it’s fun to watch. (not saying he actually connects on said jackhammers…lol)

  • Gerald R. Ford

    Lowetide, I must say, you are a most excellent addition to the Nation. Your articles are great, you are a die-hard Expos fan (my heart aches if anyone even peripherally refers to the year 1994), and that single picture surpasses all of Gregor’s tannorexic Ice-Skanks in one fell swoop.

    Welcome, brother.

    As for the Eskimos, they are suffering ‘The Curse of Homer’ for selling the Trappers. Long may it afflict them.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Since im ranting in the other two blogs… its a tough choice, Gregors or LT’s ice girls.

    I think it would be a win win for all of us if they were to have an ice girl showdown 😉