OKC: The Outer Marker

Any fool watching these whiz kids who will soon be headed for Oklahoma City can see good things ahead for the farm in 11-12. A good crop one year ago (Omark, Petry) may give way to a watershed (Lander, Hartikainen, Hamilton, Pitlick, Teubert) some day soon. Could this be the Oilers all time best farm team? 

I count the Oilers best all-time farm team as the 81-82 Wichita WInd. They didn’t win the Calder Cup (by 92-93 the Cape Breton Oilers would win the coveted Calder) but it was a fine team and delivered a bounty to the NHL team. Here’s a list of NHLers the Wichita Wind 81-82 team graduted to the world’s best hockey league:

  • Andy Moog, who had a couple of cups of coffee before and during 81-82 but established himself as a quality NHL prospect during this season. The Oilers would eventually deal Moog, but he was certainly one of the finest goaltenders of his era.
  • Charlie Huddy, who would be a strong contributor to the best Oiler teams in history and play in over 1,000 NHL games. Huddy was not drafted, rather he was signed by the Oilers and spent parts of three seasons in the minors before graduating to the show. His development should serve as a strong reminder that good defensemen often take some time to develop. A splendid player.
  • Walt Poddubny, who would flourish in the NHL. He played 468 games and scored 184 goals, 116 of those in a stunning three season run from 86-89.
  • John Blum, who would play 250 NHL games (most with Boston) was signed by the organization from Michigan (NCAA) after his graduation from college.
  • Don Jackson, who rescued his career in Wichita and performed well for the Oilers during the first portion of the Stanley runs (dealt Oct 86). He was a solid role player for the Oilers during those years.
  • Tom Roulston, who played 195 NHL games (and 47 goals) for the Oilers just before they started bagging Stanley’s every spring.

And there were a few cups of coffee, including Ray Cote who old timers like me will remember.

Once Moog and Huddy established themselves as NHL players, the Oilers were ready to run the table and they did it several times during the 1980’s. That era ended too soon and for fans my age forced us to wake up to the reality of the situation: those kinds of teams come along (probably) once in a lifetime.

The new Oiler fan (basically anyone who doesn’t have a strong memory of the 1990 team) is anywhere from 0 to 30 years old (or more depending how much you paid attention to hockey as a kid) at this time. A key element for the Oilers moving forward will be developing trade assets at the minor league level. If we can agree that this season’s OKC team will likely send the big club Teemu Hartikainen and Anton Lander (as the main attractions) and then lesser lights like Chris VandeVelde, Corey Potter and Yann Danis, it’s probably easy to identify possible trade items.

The OKC Barons are going to be extremely deep at center. The roster could boast all of Lander, Ryan O’Marra, Chris VandeVelde, Tanner House, Milan Kytnar, Ryan Martindale and Josh Green (who can also play wing) vying for time in the middle in the AHL.

Should the Oilers need to make toom for Martindale, a player like O’Marra may be offloaded during training camp or before the season begins. If the Oilers can get a draft pick–even a depth pick–that’s another bullet for Stu MacGregor.

Who are this year’s Moog and Huddy? 

There are no Gretzky’s, but there should be some really talented players in Oklahoma City this season. Here’s my guess for the opening night lineup in OKC and the players with legit NHL hopes in bold:

  • GOALYann Danis, David LeNeveu
  • DEFENSE: Bryan Helmer, Corey Potter, Taylor Chorney, Colten Teubert, Alex Plante, Kirill Tulupov, Taylor Fedun
  • CENTER: Anton Lander, Ryan O’Marra, Chris VandeVelde, Tanner House, Milan Kytnar*
  • LEFT WING: Teemu Hartikainen, Lennert Petrell, Curtis Hamilton, Josh Green, Phil Corent
  • RIGHT WING: Ryan Keller, Mark Arcobello, Antti Tyrvainen, Tyler Pitlick, Hunter Tremblay

I think Motin, Abney and Roy start in the ECHL and wonder about Kytnar’s health (that’s why he’s an asterisk).

That’s a lot of black ink, a lot of bolded names. Whatever else we can say about Steve Tambellini, he’s added a tremendous number of players who could end up being NHL players. Luck, desire and determination will count for a lot, but these young man have been acquired because there’s something about them that gives them a chance to succeed in pro hockey.

You could have written the same thing about Charlie Huddy or Andy Moog in 1981 fall. This is the function of the American Hockey League, to take all of those junior snipers, defensive stars and quick gloved goalies and grind them into useful role players for an NHL team.


  • Quicksilver ballet

    In an effort to remain on the specified topic….

    Whose fault is it that the Miss Oklahoma image, is yet to accompany this article? The one that looks as though she was about a sq metre of red fabric short when she made that shirt.

    Go Barons!

  • OutDoorRink

    “Why is every thread about Gagner lately?”

    Because we’re so deep at center. There’s a back up happening and Sam needs to prove that he’s better than the screaming horde behind him.

  • OutDoorRink

    After watching that grainy utube of the sweet Kirill, I had a seniors moment, a flashback, are you sure thats not Eddie Shack!!!!, He who had his teammates point out that its the guys in the OTHER uniforms to go after…..

    After all…the oilers need little help in ending in the infirmary…

  • Mason Storm

    Aren’t the Oilers pushing for Pitlick at center. Do you think he will push some of the names you mentioned aside? If that’s what the big team brass wants.

    • Lowetide

      Mason: They could move people around to get Pitlick at center. Say House moves over or someone else. The real problem is that there’s too many C’s.

      Suspect something has to give.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Have to say this will be the first year I’ve had more then a passing interest in the AHL team.

    Will give us a good oppertunity to see just how overated (or not) Mcgregor and the last 3 or so draft classes are.

      • Chris.

        I thought the organization wanted to groom Pitlick as a centerman… in either case: I’m not too impressed with the organizational depth on the right wing.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            One roll back was a pre-meditated shot at Khabibulin, wasn’t it?

            We haven’t seen much or heard any dialogue on 89 as far as i can remember. What kinda bully would want to pile on that cute little puddin cup?

          • spenner

            Yeah I don’t get it either. I can’t wait until the season starts. If Gagner can stay healthy *knock on wood* I see him having a very solid to exceptional year.

          • Lowetide

            It happens every year. There’s two new centers and they look good early, so let’s dump those bums who caused the 30th place finish. But you have to remember that all these teams Edmonton is playing feature a bunch of scrubs with a few NHLers peppered in.

            PLUS if the Oilers ever get to the point where they can deal a C for D help, great! And if it’s Gagner then so be it.

            But I don’t really understand a post about Gagner being optioned to OKC. I’m not certain if the poster was serious, but sometimes people get passionate about the damndest things.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            To be fair, this is the same poster that told us Tambellini missed the boat when he didnt move Hemsky at the draft for the tenth overall,then move the tenth for the third overall. ( If I am correct, I believe he said Chorney was the name needed to make that happen. ) This is the same poster that posted ” Hall better keep his pants on, I heard he slept with 80 girls last year, I hope this doesnt turn out to be another Arnott situation”. I must say though, hes good for a laugh.

          • I wonder what mine would be like.

            “Consistent poster, never backs down from a confrontation, sometimes gets a little greasy in the corners but has a good compete level. Seems to favour Gagner but gets a little sloppy in the Omark zone.”

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Thats against the rules Archie, you can’t write your own scouting report. You could do one on someone else, like Obbie…but its not applicable if you’re pumping your own tires.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I was born 81 makes me 30 years old! Too young to really understand or appreciate the dynasty years. The teen years through my twenty’s I have a Todd Marchant goal and one cup run!

    Empty seats at skyreach center with a free hotdog with your superstore bought tickets thats my great memories. Oh yah coach Burnette.

    HERES HOPING THE THIRTY’s are much better


    81 birthday SUX

    • spenner

      I also was an 81 birthday. I remember the 90 cup but barely. And at that time I remember a lot of people were cheering against the Oilers because they won so much during that period. I was trying to decide whether I was an Oiler fan or not.

      I hate to admit it but I was probably more of a Kings fan at that time because of the Gretzky fiasco. Plus my dad was a Kings fan so of course I followed what he did. It probably wasn’t until the mid 90’s that I became a die hard Oilers fan. I can remember that playoff OT goal against Dallas by hot Toddy like it was yesterday!

  • O.C.

    Look what happens when you shut down and snap open a beer! A new blog! (Everything else is after this post)

    Tragically, Don Ashby I recall was killed in a car crash that season.

    Also Ace Bailey was on that team- no? (Lost in 9/11)

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Don Ashby died of Leukemia.Sure nice our season is upon us.Really wish Lander was in tonights lineup.I believe Brule or Gagner are the odd man out.