Tepid Applause for OKC Rookie Forwards

One of the ways we can see progress among young players–especially rookie pro’s–is checking progress in the season’s second half. The OKC Barons have played 58 of their 80 games and almost half of those since the Christmas break. Are the kids making progress?

The current Edmonton Oiler players shouldn’t be too worried about what’s behind them on the farm, but there are some talented rookies, some of whom should be knocking on the door in the next couple of seasons. These new pro’s are behind names like Teemu Hartikainen, Anton Lander and Linus Omark but their time will come if they continue to progress. 

As a group, these forwards have done little to move the needle during the 11-12 season. It doesn’t mean they are failed prospects, but there’s plenty of work to do.


Tyler Pitlick started the season smartly, turning heads with physical play; however the offense wasn’t coming and by Christmas the numbers weren’t encouraging. The pre-and-post splits suggest offense is a major issue:

  • Pitlick before Christmas: 28, 4-5-9 -8 321ppg
  • Pitlick after Christmas: 16, 2-3-5 +3 .313 ppg

Pitlick’s plus minus has improved but the offense isn’t there at this point in time. Pitlick has been running in place since Christmas, not improving his offensive output. His current rookie season in the AHL is a good comp for Colin McDonald, a 2003 2nd round pick who did not emerge as an NHL player (although he’s still trying).

Pitlick’s scouting report suggests he should be able to make himself useful in a checking role if his offense is too shy for a feature role on a skill line. Edmonton badly needs a strong, physical winger to go with all that talent in Edmonton, so I’m sure he’ll get plenty of opportunities to show what he can do.



Hamilton is the other 2010 pick who was turned pro this past fall along with Tyler Pitlick. Hamilton was expected to deliver more offense based on his WHL season in 2010-11 but he’s been disappointing from the start. Hamilton has played on the PK and did get some early PP time, but a recent injury may mean his season is over.

  • Hamilton before Christmas: 23, 2-5-7 even .304ppg
  • Hamilton after Christmas: 18, 3-1-4 +2 .222

The comps from Edmonton’s draft past are names like Dan Baum, and you can’t really find an AHL rookie with a similar season in the Oiler system who went on to success in the NHL (Jason Chimera wasn’t special, but had a much better season than Hamilton). He has way better hands than he’s shown so far in the AHL, so he’ll need to impress the coaching staff this fall with hard work and aggressiveness.


Hunter Tremblay’s rookie season in the AHL comes at age 25, so all of the things we read into his numbers must be viewed through that lens. His time as an "NHL prospect" is limited, and he needs to emerge from the pack quickly.

  • Tremblay before Christmas: 29, 5-6-11 +4 .379ppg
  • Tremblay after Christmas: 21, 7-5-12 +4 .571ppg

Tremblay has shown some nice growth since Christmas and is on track for a solid AHL rookie season. He is an RFA this summer and one would reasonably expect him to earn a second contract with the Oilers. A callup to the NHL is probably a distant bell, but he might see action in a "Oilers recall Charles Linglet" way.


House has a rep of being a solid 2-way center and a good penalty killer. AHL hopefuls who want to make their mark still have to bring offense, and in the case of House it’s wanting.

  • House before Christmas: 27, 4-5-9 +9 .333ppg
  • House after Christmas: 24, 0-6-6 +1 .250ppg

Another 25-year old AHL rookie, House has a wide range of skills than Tremblay but is not his match offensively. House has another year on his entry level deal, so will be back again next season in OKC. Like Tremblay, an NHL recall is possible but unlikely.


Tyrvainen is a 22-year old Finn who took some time to get rolling but has turned some heads since Christmas. Tyrvainen was probably the least touted of the rookie AHL forwards in OKC last fall but has meant his presence felt during the year.

  • Tyrvainen before Christmas: 10, 0-3-3 +5 .300ppg
  • Tyrvainen after Christmas: 27, 3-6-9 +5 .333ppg

The young Finn has shown slight improvement and his +10 stands out on the team. He has some edge to his game and is certainly a layer of interest for next season in OKC.


The high draft picks (Pitlick and Hamilton) did not emerge as strong AHL rookies and in Hamilton’s case it may be a matter of starting all over again next season. Hunter Tremblay and Tanner House are 25 year olds and needed to impress and they did, although only Tremblay has shown enough offensive ability to get noticed on a league-wide basis (he is tied for 47th among AHL rookies this season). Antti Tyrvainen took time to get rolling, but he has some grit and might end up being the most interesting player in the group.

It’s safe to say that none of the men mentioned here will have the kind of impact Teemu Hartikainen had as a rookie one year ago, when he finished in a 14th place tie for AHL rookie scoring (66, 17-25-42).

  • Time Travelling Sean

    I never understood what the rush was to have Pitlick and Hamilton playing in the AHL this year. Just because they were eligible doesn’t mean it was the right decision. Both should have stayed in junior. It hasn’t hurt Etem playing an extra year and it wouldn’t have hurt Pitlick.

    Marincin is another prospect that shouldn’t be rushed into the AHL next season. The Oilers already have a number of defensemen ready for the AHL next season and I think Marincin would develop more playing big minutes in Regina.

    Rushing these kids into the AHL may not be the best development for them and Pitlick and Hamilton are prime examples of that.

  • Toro

    Well none of these guys sound too promising, Tyrvainen seems like the most promising of the bunch right now, but I think Hartikainen is the same type of player with more skill, Maybe Stu isn’t as great as everyone says he is, but time will tell

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Tyrvainen is probably the one I’m most keen on out of this crop. Anyone happen to catch some OKC games this year? How was Tyrvainen to your eyes? Saw-him-good?

    • O.C.

      Yep. But Pitlick is progressing perfectly to fill a need. They are teaching him line 3 work because he has the tools for line 1 and 2 work. He doesn’t get pp opportunity, or top minutes, or skilled line mates.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    2nd round picks look great in junior and then fall flat on their face and can’t or won’t make the adjustments to be successful in the AHL/NHL.

    There is only so much you can learn from the CHL, vis-a-vis only so much from the AHL so keeping them there too long serves no purpose. AHL has a purpose in motivation but CHL? what would be the point?

  • paul wodehouse

    …crazy Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet? loved that flick!!! ‘splain …was it something that reminded ‘the bot’ of something?
    …does this image represent wide eyed fan frustration for such ‘tepid’ rookie reviews? or is it that [they] can’t see out the windshield of the Oilers Nation Mobile moving forward ?

    memo to the bot:

    i continue to dig on anything Brigitte Bardot


    • Lowetide

      I love the Lynch films and BV is just so visual it keeps coming back! The photo is designed to show how crazy a task getting an NHL job is on any team.

      As for Bardot, yeah. Man. Wow.

    • Lowetide

      I have two thoughts on this: first, I’m probably being unfair to Hamilton and Pitlick. I do not think their TOI is close to approaching the minutes played by previous Oiler draft picks. The Oilers seem to be adopting the Detroit model for pro’s not taken in the lottery: their entry level deal will be treated like the minor league audition and the kids will spend most of the time in OKC no matter what.

      The beginning of this process would appear to be Teemu Hartikainen. His AHL career is almost two years old now and it looks to me as though he’ll be right back in OKC next year.

      Oilers didn’t do that five years ago.

      The other item is that EDM has signed guys like Eager and Jones to take the pressure off as far as timeline.

      I don’t know that it’s the best way to do it, but if it cuts down on the Pouliot’s, McDonald’s and Jacques’ then I’m all for it.

  • Big Perm

    Pitlick and Hamilton should have spent another year in junior.Having fall birthdates they were older draftees but young for AHL.

    Marcinin will get the push to the AHL.He has a 100mph slapshot and is really good on PP..He has to pack on some beef on his 6ft6 frame but I think the OIL will work on that

  • Gitagrip

    One could infer that the marginal boxcars of the farmhands has a corelation to the quality of their linemates/teamates. Case in point, the vortex Belanger creates for his wingers. Perhaps that is why few tear it up at the AHL level. Maybe Dithers could start a rotation and see if anyone could surprise playing with Hall and Hopkins. We are still trying for the #2 pick aren’t we??

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Keep the parade of Euro-sweets coming and allow me to lobby for the awesomely named Gina Lollobrigida once again:


    On topic: how can you talk about Antti without mentioning his signature accomplishment: crushing a “zamponi”:


    BTW: Is this how you rank them LT? is that the depth chart order (irrespective of forward position)?

    fact-finding mission: jr cuts off at 20 right? and if you aren’t in a university program but also aren’t ready to make the jump to the AHL… where would you play? ECHL or some other league? what does that development path look like, does it have any non-trivial rate of success?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    This is what happens when too much emphasis is placed on systems play. Looks to me like there’s very little developement going on here. The Barons have all their players playing a system to the best of their ability and it has been effective in the AHL (Alsoran Hockey League). (insert coaches name here) is bringing up a whole bunch of system robots who play the game like Eric Belanger, on fundamental skills alone and not from the heart. There looks to be far too little passion and desire in these kids. Some of the joy in the game must be lost to them.

    If you can’t beat your opponent with talent and desire, the only thing that’s left is to try and beat them with a bunch of systems play robots. If the Suave Dennis Hopper were a hockey fan….he would not be pleased.

    Happy game day eh.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Not too promising. I think we as fans fed off each others excitement and got a bit carried away with the MBS worship. Since I have moved away from Edmonton I have noticed a wee bit of a tendency to over valu some of the Oiler’s players.

    BTW- Hemsky’s overpay has set the bar for Grabovki’s overpay. Where will it end? The owners will no doubt blame their own lack of self control and common sense on the players during the CBA negotiations.

    Incompetent management allows player agents to use overpay contracts as comparables in negotiations. The Oilers certainly have played a leading role in inflating salaries.

  • RexLibris

    This review reinforces, in my view, something that I have said here earlier this season, that the Oilers need to improve their prospect depth at the wings and center.

    The Oilers have a massive influx of defencemen coming soon to the AHL and there is going to be a need in two years’ time for a serious influx of talent on the wings after this Hemsky extension and the franchise’s decisions on Omark and Gagner (probably keeping one, not likely both).

    All of that aside, LT, I do appreciate your mention of Edmonton taking their sweet time with these young men in a fashion deliberately modeled on the Red Wings. You’re right in saying that a few years ago they wouldn’t have been that patient and that didn’t go so well. So why not try something new.

    One quick note about the bar being set for FA forwards vis-a-vis the Hemsky contract: Grabovski may have worked off of the Hemsky deal, but when you look for the next available UFA forward you’ll find Olli Jokinen. If his agent uses Hemsky and Grabovski as templates, and there is a chance Feaster decides to commit to Jokinen for another go-round at those prices, then Flames fans can thank their two most favourite teams for helping that contract come to pass. Just thought I’d try and bring a smile to the faces of Oiler fans today.

  • Oilers89

    First: Hemsky is not over payed and if he is at all it is by like 200 Grand, no big deal.
    Second: With no evidence as to why I think Pitlick would look great with Eberle and Hopkins. I bet that he kills the number he put up in the AHL and at least Petrell could go back to the fourth line. He has strength, speed, shot, and this is the exact kind of player that would work well with them. This also depends upon his ability to play on his off wing and the oilers risking their chances to make the playoffs this year šŸ˜‰

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      genuine question: does Pitlick have any experience on the wing? (i’m guessing you see RNH centering that line, not Pitlick). I have no idea if he’s floating around positions this year or not.

      • RexLibris

        Pitlick played the RW in his last year of junior because they were stacked at centre. He has also played both RW and centre in OKC.

        Moving him to LW might be a bit of a stretch, but I don’t know enough about how the kid plays to say anything definitively.

        I will say, though, that I had read a few weeks back from someone who has watched a few of the Barons’ games and they reported that having seen Pitlick patience will be key. Apparently his game is there when he doesn’t have the puck (positioning, forecheck, etc) and it would seem that Todd Nelson is doing right by him.

        From everything I have read Pitlick has all the tools and is learning the game. His is a case of the difference between someone like Hall, who has the tools and the instinct to know what to do with them, and someone who has to learn the game. Pitlick strikes me as a hard-working, intelligent young man and will, in time, be a good addition to a deep team. He might not be our Ryan Kesler, but I’m encouraged that the team is taking it’s time with him.

        • Oilers89

          That is a good comparison judging by the scouting reports and what some have posted on here.I have not watched any barons games, but I am guessing that he is getting a low amount of minutes, and is being played in a very anti-offensive role to ease him in. I remember two years ago at training camp he looked like he was better than most players on the ice. I am thinking that he should be a very kesler-esque player for us, and I would love to have that.