OKC: It Was A Very Good Year (UPDATE: Marincin signs!)

We learned a lot about Oklahoma City this season. We now know how to pronounce the state’s name properly (this woman was central to the process) and we know that Oklahoma produces lots and lots of really good country singers. What else have we learned?

WILD LIFE

This is an Alligator snapping turtle. Crazy looking thing, been around for a long, long time. They’re an endangered species despite the fact they have no predator outside man. Pretty cool turtle.

The OKC Barons graduate an enormous rookie crop this spring, it’s deep and strong. Linus Omark and Jeff Petry are likely to be Edmonon Oilers full stop in the fall and Teemu Hartikainen could also make the big club at training camp. Bubbling under that group is another list of rookie pro’s that include Colten Teubert, Chris VandeVelde, Milan Kytnar and Philippe Cornet (among others).

I think it’s important to remember that there have been entire rookie crops who have epic failed when entering the AHL grind. Recent Oiler picks who have either struggled as AHL rookies or been flushed from the league entirely include Taylor Chorney, Slava Trukhno, Johan Motin, Alex Plante, Colin McDonald, Cody Wild and Jeff Deslauriers.

WHAT ABOUT NEXT YEAR?

Among Oiler prospects who could be AHL rookies in 2011-12, the club has signed a few already with some to come (we hope). Not signed yet are Swedish center Anton Lander and WHL defender Martin Marincin but the club has been busy getting ready for next season:

  • March 8: Oilers sign NCAA defender Taylor Fedun from Princeton. It’s a two year deal for the puck moving defender who went 10-12-22 in 29 games in the land of the big brains.
  • March 19: Oilers sign NCAA center Tanner House from Maine. An interesting item in that he was a teammate of Oiler draft pick Robby Dee. House has good skills and is described as a two-way player. He went 6gp, 1-4-5 +3 at the end of the Barons season and should be considered an integral part of the forward group for 11-12.
  • March 30: Oilers sign QMJHL goaltender Olivier Roy to an entry level contract. His .911 SP for Acadie-Bathurst was among the league’s best and he has had experience with Canada’s WJ team. Goalies are hard to project, so a good guess would be that he spends some time in both the ECHL and AHL next year.
  • March 31: Oilers sign CIS L Hunter Tremblay from UNB. 25-32-57 in 27 Canadian college games, Tremblay had an immediate impact at the pro level. Tremblay scored a playoff goal for the Barons during their 5-game series that just ended this weekend.
  • April 1: Oilers sign C Mark Arcobello to a contract. The young man who played much of the season in the ECHL blossomed upon recall and earned a contract. He’s diminutive and one suspects the AHL is his outer marker but the Oilers must have seen something in him to offer the contract. 
  • April 13: Oilers sign R Tyler Pitlick to an entry level deal. The Medicine Hat Tiger winger (56gp, 27-35-62) should be expected to fill a feature role in the AHL next season. Scouting reports suggest a gritty player with skill, he’s one of two signed players who should be able to keep prospect nerds (like me) happy with the Barons development group. This is a high draft pick ticketed for (likely) a one year apprenticeship in OKC.
  • April 18: Oilers sign L Curtis Hamilton to an entry level deal. He’s the other blue chipper likely to be a Baron in 11-12. Blocked on LW at the big league level by Hall, MPS, Hartikainen and others, it’ll be Hamilton’s job to stay healthy, learn to grind against men and chip in enough offense to be a legit callup option. 

We should expect the Oilers to add a veteran goaltender, a couple of veteran defensemen and some veterans like Colin McDonald for depth up front. The item to follow closely is Anton Lander: he has to be signed in the next 5 weeks or the club will lose his rights. Also on the horizon is the decision re:Marincin, with him signing a pro deal the most likely scenario.

The Barons and the club’s coaching staff did a terrific job with the available talent this season. Should Lander and Marincin sign, and with Pitlick, Hamilton and others already ticketed for OKC, we could be talking the same talk one year from today.

UPDATE: Oilers tweet this morning. Marincin signed his three year entry level deal.

  • Colin

    Chronologic superiority is mine!
    .
    I’m very interested to see what Pitlick, Roy and Hamilton can do next year, should be another decent year for the Barons. Hopefully a higher seeded playoff spot awaits the farm club next year – success at the lower level should eventually breed success at the NHL level.

  • EasyOil

    That photo never gets old. What a remarkable landscape, Okla)(homa.

    As for the Barons — their success this year, and their ability to provide adequate call-ups to the big club, just highlights how little talent the big club had to work with through the last years of the EIG. Kudos to whoever woke up and realized you can’t build much without a decent foundation, then went out and got started.

    Maybe when people talk about a long-term rebuild they have the whole enterprise in mind, including a junior team, an ECHL team that wins, an AHL team that wins, Euro and NCAA scouting, development coaches and some NHL depth. When we impatient fans figure we’re just a PKing center and a D away from contending, we’re probably guilty of the same incomplete thinking that we accuse the GM of.

    I would be interested in knowing the long term correlation, if any, between NHL success and minor-league affiliate success over the years. Does Atlanta fail, along with NYI, because their high picks have nowhere useful to play?

  • Peterborough

    Almost all of our kids exceeded expectations. I’m a bigger fan of signing vets to one year over pays and force the kids to make the club, I like Teemu and VV but I would prefer that they spend another year down there. This gives us better call up options for the rash of injuries that are reliable in Oil country as the Canucks choking in the playoffs. Patience, its comming: playoffs in 12/13!!!

  • EasyOil

    LT: wrote this just now over at C&B but considered it appropriate for here too – Would you consider the Barons season a success overall? I’d say I would – to be transformed from a last-place team filled with underachievers and career minor league grinders, to be moved to a new city, where it becomes a tough-as-nails, deep, skilled team with a great veteran/youth balance with a lot of promise who take one of the AHL’s best teams to 6 games in their first playoff appearance in their inaugural season, where to even make the playoffs considering their injury-plagued parent-club is a minor-miracle. Yup, I’d say the OKC Barons have been a roaring success this year, all things considered, and I have to give credit to management for “doing-it-right” finally, as well as big kudos to Rocky Nelson – he seems like a guy who can get the most out of his players.

    • Spartacus

      I was kinda surprised to see the poor attendance numbers for the Barons games in Oklahoma City, especially considering that the Blazers drew large crowds on a regular basis.

      I wonder if it will take a Calder Cup run to get fans in the seats.

      • The people I talked to in OKC said that they were tired of just having junior teams. Most were shocked when I told them just how close the the NHL the AHL is.

        Hopefully more people will talk about this season and bring their friends next year. Also, if there was more local coverage it might help. When there is a high school wrestling tournament, the local media guy covers that, and the Barons get neglected. Hopefully it’s just growing pains.

      • EasyOil

        As Lisa said, I think misconceptions about the team didn’t help, but also having the Thunder in town may have been detrimental, especially when both teams were in the playoffs at the same time. Attendance was probably the only disappointment for the Barons, and it is a concern, but I’d give them another year or 2 to establish themselves. And a playoff run would certainly help with that.

        • Lowetide

          It’s a little early. Nothing shaking on the veteran end, so that means major gaps. Among the players who are signed for next season, this would be my guess.

          In goal, a veteran signed from the AHL group and maybe two if they’re not certain Olivier Roy can step right into a backup role. On defense, Plante, Teubert, Motin, Fedun and Bendfeld are signed. Montgomery is an RFA and will need a contract.

          The Oilers can’t send Chorney back without risking waivers, so the Oilers will likely sign a Petiot and the Barons will probably add a Jake Taylor. So, a top 6D of Petiot, Taylor, Plante, Montgomery, Teubert and then the new hires of Fedun and Marincin (if he stays up) is possible but that’s pretty inexperienced.

          Bendfeld and Motin might he the shuttle players between the ECHL and Okla City.

          Up front, I think Omark and Hartikainen should be considered Oilers until further notice. That means Vande Velde, O’Marra, Arcobello, House and Kytnar would be the prospect C’s and the Oilers would hire a veteran like Giroux to give the lineup punch. Of course, the guys who don’t play C will move to the wing.

          On LW it’s a bit up in the air. The club has Hamilton and Cornet signed and are losing Moran and Greg Stewart. Marquardt is RFA and may or may not return. A good guess would be a top 4L of Hamilton and Cornet with possibly Kytnar also playing the portside. Plus of course a veteran AHL player.

          RW has Tyler Pitlick, Hunter Tremblay and possibly Rajala moving in, with Stortini RFA and Colin McDonald and Ben Ondrus free agents. Lots of work to do there. If the Oilers sign Lander, one would have to consider him a top option for C on OKC.

  • Lowetide

    Easyoil: Oh yeah, this was a successful season. For one thing, this club can score goals, something previous incarnations of Oilers’ AHL teams haven’t been able to do.

    Also, we don’t seem to have as many “issues” with players. Omark is somewhat one dimensional but he’s also strong on the puck and has speed. This makes him a more likely candidate for NHL employment than someone like Schremp (as an example).

    Or Hartikainen. He’s skilled and big, plus he knows how to use his size. So whereas Brad Winchester was a big guy who we couldn’t really project onto the top 6, or compared to Jacques who has played top 6 NHL minutes but failed, Hartikainen is a guy with a better chance to do something productive.

    And his AHL season suggests that he’s progressing. It just seems like they’re making better decisions on these kids and drafting kids with a wider range of skills.

    Fewer Coke machines, more players.

  • Shapeman

    I’m curious but why is everyone dumping on Plante? I didn’t get a chance to listen to Bob at lunch when he was Oklahoma so I’m not sure if he said anything about him but when I look at this stats his +/- seems solid and his points are decent for a defensive defenseman. He’s still only 21 and history shows us that defenseman develop late. Any thoughts LT?

    • Lowetide

      Plante has been passed on the prospect depth chart since turning pro. He was a mid-1st round pick in 2007 but two picks from 2006 have passed him.

      They were drafted a year earlier, but Plante has the pedigree. Petry turned pro after Plante but he’s ahead as is Theo Peckham (who plays a similar style to Plante).

      Plus the organization has Marincin and Davidson who could turn pro AND the Oilers traded for a defense prospect with the same skill set in Colten Teubert.

      So I’d say he’s in a bit of troulbe as a prospect.

      However, my point in the original post was in regard to Plante’s struggles as a rookie pro. He didn’t struggle like Chorney but it was a tough season for Plante.

  • Clay

    With the number of players ready for an NHL shot, there is simply no reason to have JFJ on the roster next year.

    However, I’m convinced that he’ll be there, and if he is, can we safely assume that the management of this team is just plain incompetent?

    Is there any reasonable argument that he is a better option than Hartikainen, VDV, Omark, Reddox, or even McDonald, Moran, O’Marra, or Giroux?

  • misfit

    I hope Taylor Fedun sticks. This edition of the Boys on the Bus may have found it’s Randy Gregg.

    Brainy defenseman with good size who went undrafted and took the scenic route to pro hockey (though Feduun hasn’t played any hockey in Asia yet).

    I have no idea if there is any reason to compare them from a hockey perspective (I’ve never seen Fedun play), but it’s a fun copmarison to make anyway.

  • Spartacus

    Hey, good news that Marincin is signed.

    LT, any feelings on the signing of Lander? Will he sign and play in the SEL or the AHL? Will he sign at all?

    What do you make of him being cut from the Swedish World Championship Team?

    • EasyOil

      I’m certain he will sign, but most likely will play another season in Sweden. Of course thats based on nothing but my own opinion, but Lander has shown himself to be a smart kid. He’s best buds with Magnus, would most likely know Omark too, and they would be a major factor in him signing with EDM. Plus, Edmonton is apparently very popular in Sweden due to Paajarvi and Omark. He would also know that his skillset is something Edmonton is in dire need of, and along with the current youth movement in Edmonton, this would give him a greater opportunity to make it to the NHL. I see no reason for him to want to re-enter the draft, unless he really doesn’t ever want to leave Sweden, which is a possibility, but I reckon a small one. I think having MPS here would be a major factor in Lander eventually coming over to play for Edmonton.

      As for him being cut from the Swedish WC team, no worries whatsoever there. He was captain for one of the pre-tournament friendlies, which shows they are well aware of what he can do, but he only turned 20 today (happy birthday Lander!) so there shouldn’t be any concerns about him not making a mens tournament when he’s only just stopped being elligible for the junior one.

    • Lowetide

      The Oilers weren’t able to sign Riley Nash (dealt him) and Lander holds some cards here. If he wants what Nash wanted (to bypass the AHL) then the Oilers are in a bit of difficulty.

      The Oilers aren’t the Red Wings, who basically tell these kids AHL time is mandatory. Lander may feel the best route is to sign and then player another season in Sweden.

      I’d say a little bit of worry is in order.

  • Aron S

    LT or anyone else:

    Not that he’s Oilers property any more, but how do Riley Nash’s AHL points stack up in Desjardins equivalencies?

    AHL: 79GP 14 18 32 are the stats.

    Thanks if you can help. I couldn’t google a formula to use, except that they project it as about .45 of AHL pts to NHL points?

  • I tried it at home

    Edit | Reply #26 pelhem grenville April 25 2011, 03:01PM +1 0 props
    edit : cleavage

    Edit | Reply #27 Halfwise April 25 2011, 04:48PM +1 1 props
    That photo never gets old. What a remarkable landscape, Okla)(homa.

    Hmm, Okla)(homa. I like it!! As of now, this is the way I shall refer to the club. Thanks for the view, Lowetide, Ive been up north on shutdown for a while and its nice to see what Im working for. Oh, yeah, and the O)(a ‘barons had a great year too.

  • Aron S

    LT – do you really see Pitlick playing wing? I know he has played wing in MH, but there is not a lot of offesive upside in that group of centres you mention and I would like the Oilers to give Pitlick a shot down the middle and move someone like House to the wing instead.

    Also, what about Martindale?