Unless there is a massive change in the next four days, and we avoid another lockout, expect the Oilers to assign Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz, Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Fedun, Teemu Hartikainen, Colten Teubert and Anton Lander to OKC before Saturday. Taylor Hall will not be on that list because he is injured, and you can’t assign an injured player to the minors.

The Oilers have yet to sit down with RNH and Eberle to discuss them playing in OKC, but the window to assign them closes Saturday at midnight and they will take advantage of it and then decide later if they will actually play. Nugent-Hopkins only has 62 pro games, so it would make sense that he plays in OKC, if there is a lockout.

Eberle might need to be persuaded a bit, but history shows a stint in the AHL shouldn’t hurt him.

During the 2004/2005 lockout some of today’s best offensive players played in the AHL, and then put up some excellent stats in the NHL in 2005/2006.

Here are a few examples of guys who flourished after their stint in the AHL.

Jason Spezza had played 1 1/2 years in the NHL prior to the lockout, but he went down and led the AHL in scoring. He then returned to the NHL and averaged 90 points over the next three seasons.

Season  Team  Lge  GP  G  A  Pts  PIM  +/-
2002-03  Ottawa Senators  NHL  33 7 14 21 8 -3
2002-03  Binghamton Senators  AHL  43 22 32 54 71 -5
2003-04  Ottawa Senators  NHL  78 22 33 55 71 22
2004-05  Binghamton Senators  AHL  80 32 85 117 50 18
2005-06  Ottawa Senators  NHL  68 19 71 90 33 23
2006-07  Ottawa Senators  NHL  67 34 53 87 45 19
2007-08  Ottawa Senators  NHL  76 34 58 92 66 26

Eric Staal, like Nugent-Hopkins, had one year of NHL experience before his year in the AHL. He returned to put up 100 points, another 28 points in the playoffs and won a Stanley Cup. He has never scored fewer than 70 points in any season since his stint in the AHL. 

Season  Team  Lge  GP  G  A  Pts  PIM  +/- 
2003-04  Carolina Hurricanes  NHL  81 11 20 31 40 -6
2004-05  Lowell Lock Monsters  AHL  77 26 51 77 88 37
2005-06  Carolina Hurricanes  NHL  82 45 55 100 81 -8
2006-07  Carolina Hurricanes  NHL  82 30 40 70 68 -6
2007-08  Carolina Hurricanes  NHL  82 38 44 82 50 -2

A former Oiler didn’t have a great AHL season with the Roadrunners, however, when he returned from the lockout he put up career numbers with the Oilers. Jarret Stoll had his two most productive seasons after his stint in the AHL. 

Season  Team  Lge  GP  G  A  Pts  PIM  +/- 
2002-03  Hamilton Bulldogs  AHL  76 21 33 54 86 15
2003-04  Edmonton Oilers  NHL  68 10 11 21 42 8
2004-05  Edmonton Roadrunners  AHL  66 21 17 38 92 13
2005-06  Edmonton Oilers  NHL  82 22 46 68 74 4
2006-07  Edmonton Oilers  NHL  51 13 26 39 48 2

There are many others who spent that season in the AHL after playing parts of one or two seasons in the NHL.

Jay Bouwmeester, Nathan Horton, Marc-Andre Fleury, Joffrey Lupul, Dustin Brown, Brent Burns,Ryan Kesler, Joni Pitkanen and Mike Cammalleri (He was 2nd in AHL in 2005 with 109 points).

Then there were a few guys who likely would have played in the NHL in 2004/2005, but instead made their pro debuts in the AHL, like Cam Ward, Tomas Vanek, Zack Parise and Ryan Suter.

I’ve always wondered if Rick Nash would have been better off to play in the AHL in 2004 rather than in Davos. Nash had two full NHL seasons under his belt, and had come off a 41-goal campaign when he elected to play pond hockey in Davos rather than a more NHL-like game in the AHL. 

Season  Team  Lge  GP  G  A  Pts  PIM  +/- 
2002-03  Columbus Blue Jackets  NHL  74 17 22 39 78 -27
2003-04  Columbus Blue Jackets  NHL  80 41 16 57 87 -35
2004-05  Davos  Swiss-A  44 27 20 47 83   
2005-06  Columbus Blue Jackets  NHL  54 31 23 54 51 5
2006-07  Columbus Blue Jackets  NHL  75 27 30 57 73 -8
2007-08  Columbus Blue Jackets  NHL  80 38 31 69 95 2
2008-09  Columbus Blue Jackets  NHL  78 40 39 79 52 11

Nash hasn’t scored 41 goals since. Some will say his supporting cast in Columbus was never there, and that is fair, but Nash went for the money, rather than develop his game and I wonder if that impacted his overall game. Just a thought.


It will be an easy sell to convince RNH to go to OKC, with only 62 pro games under his belt, but I hope the Oilers and Eberle realize that a stint in OKC will likely help him rather than hinder him. I believe the lockout won’t last very long, but even a short stint in the AHL, rather than not playing can only benefit them. Not to mention how much they could help develop the other young guys around them.


  • Let’s say the lockout stretches into November/December and Hall becomes healthy. While the Oilers couldn’t assign him to the minors, they could actually sign him to an AHL only contract. Signing an AHL only deal would be no different than signing in Europe, so while Hall won’t be on the list by Saturday, there is a chance, albeit a slim one, that he could end up in OKC if the lockout lasts longer than any of us want.
  • The Oilers will likely also assign: Cameron Abney, Marc Arcobello, Tyler Bunz, Dane Byers, Philippe Cornet, Yann Danis, Brandon Davidson, Curtis Hamilton, Tanner House, Martin Marincin, Ryan Martindale, Kristian Pelss, Tyler Pitlick, Alex Plante, Olivier Roy, Antti Tyrvainen and Chris Vande Velde.
  • What the hell was Eric Tillman thinking today? He gave up a 1st and 4th round pick for a KICKER. Are you kidding me? The Esks dealt K, Derek Schiavone and a 1st and 4th rounder in 2013 to Montreal for K, Brody McKnight. That is almost as bad as the Ricky Ray trade. I like Tillman, he’s very open to the fans, but what was he thinking on this deal?
  • If my number crunching is accurate the Eskimos are in salary cap trouble due to all their injuries. Don’t be surprised if they try and dump some salary in the next week. 
  • Quicksilver ballet

    What we see is what we get for the rest of the Eskies season. With nobody really utilizing Fred Stamps, might as re-unite him with Ricky Ray in Toronto. That could be the cost savings Tillman needs. He certainly appears to not give a poop what the fans think.

  • BurkeTheTurd

    @ JG

    What happens to esks kicker Shaw?

    So if lockout is for a full year, does this burn everyones contract a year? And if so does that include Yakapov?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    McNight was first round draft pick. If he turns into a Sean Fleming type, Tilman got a deal. If he doesn’t, giving up the first round draft pick will be a tough one.

    I know this is an Oiler’s site, but Jason brought up the Eskimos.

    Anyone have a theory on why Edmonton’s running is not good when we have 3 premier running backs? Offensive line? Play selection? . . . I used to think Ricky Ray was just too deliberate with his hand-offs, but we’re not having much more sucess with him gone.

    • RexLibris

      I was at the Friday game. My guess on that specific occasion was the O-line. Joseph hardly had enough time to get through more than the first option on receiver.

      Play selection is a tough one because I’m not very good at identifying them. But there were several first option plays that really didn’t seem to make sense. It was very reminiscent of the late-Maciocia days when Ray was throwing an outlet pass to Goldie McLendon on every 2nd and 7 situation.


      Charles is incredible and Messam is a machine. I’d like to see more of Boyd, but at this rate I haven’t even been able to see much of any of the offensive tools we have.

  • RexLibris

    A good read, Gregor. Thanks.

    About the quick hits:

    On Hall to OKC, if he goes my guess is that Eberle would be a significant factor in the decision, but would it have any bearing on how management sees him as potential captain material?

    At what point do the Oilers assign bodies to the ECHL? Because it is beginning to look like a very crowded house in Oklahoma. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    Seriously! A 1st, a 4th and a kicker?! I hated when Maciocia traded away the Esks first that became Tsoumpas. It was a stupid move. I’m not nearly as intelligent as Tillman is when it comes to football, but still that had better be one heck of a kicker we’re getting.

    Which salary to get rid of? My initial guess is Boyd, but I have to wonder if the Esks want to keep him if only to prevent having to play against him down the road. Maybe they turn around and trade him to another team that they don’t see again this year?

  • BurkeTheTurd

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think the waver deadline applies to Everle, RNH, Hall Etc. As far as I can tell they would have to have played 180 NHL games to need to pass through wavers. So I believe the Oilers could assign Hall to the AHL as soon as he becomes healthy.

  • It seems to me there might be an opportunity for some sort of internet bandito *cough, Wanye, cough* to figure out how to legally stream OKC Barons games on this fine website. Can someone say “Oilers partnership”???


  • toprightcorner

    I think it would actually be smart if Ebs, Nuge, Hall in the future play together in the AHL. Not only would they be awesome to watch but it would build their confidence and chemistry that should really benefit them in the next couple years.

    Seems like they all want to build something together in Edmonton and this would be a good start to play together, in the system who will have the same goals to develop them for big club success.

    Triple 100 point players??

  • toprightcorner

    My guess is that Eberle would understand the situation and would rather play than sit around. It would give him a big leg up on the guys who might sit around for the early part of the lockout. With the KHL releasing all of their restrictions on who can sign there and the SEL not accepting locked out player, there could be more players than there are roster spots out there.