The NHL isn’t in session, and we’ve talked about it to death. Plenty of guys are actually playing hockey, though, so nine of the following ten points will focus on action in the AHL and overseas.
1. Taylor Hall to play in Oklahoma this weekend. An Oklahoma radio station is reporting that Taylor Hall will play in Oklahoma’s next game, on Friday, but that he’ll be held out of back-to-back games for now (which would mean he would play Friday and likely Sunday, skipping the Barons’ second game against Lake Erie on Saturday). This is not unexpected news – Jason Gregor had previously written here that Hall could end up in Oklahoma this week, and early November has been bandied about as a timeline for some time now.
What does it mean? Well, for one, it means I get to watch Taylor Hall playing hockey again and that’s a good thing. Hall’s arrival might mean interesting times for a few players currently on the roster, though. Teemu Hartikainen and Magnus Paajarvi will get less ice-time, and they’re both off to solid starts – given the positional logjam, I wonder if we’ll see Hall move to center or Paajarvi move to the right side at some point. It will also mean that one of the fringe guys gets fewer games – we’re talking here about Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale, Kristians Pelss, Tanner House and possibly Antti Tyrvainen. I wonder whether Martindale might not be reassigned to the ECHL; he, Hamilton and Pelss could all probably play full-time but spending time as a scratch can’t be ideal for the development of any of those three.
2. Are the kids targets in the AHL? While many have been pleased to see Colten Teubert lay out some immediate retribution for nasty hits in the AHL, the fact that Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz have been targets has worried some. Both guys have been targets, and both – along with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall – will continue to take punishment.
I don’t see as the Oilers have a choice though. These guys need to be playing. All four have things to work on in their game, and all four will be best served by playing high-level hockey during the lockout. More than that, they’d be – and most of them have been – targets in the NHL, too. Injuries and hard hits are just part of professional hockey. In this case the payoff – having good players in key developmental years playing hockey rather than sitting – is easily worth the risk.
3. Linus Omark is dominating the Swiss league. Omark has 25 points in 17 games in the top league in Switzerland. He’s playing for Zug with a pair of Detroit Red Wings – Damien Brunner (24 points in 14 games) and Henrik Zetterberg (eight points in four games), and that trio are outperforming a host of NHL stars. Even guys like Logan Couture, Tyler Seguin and Rick Nash trail Omark/Brunner in the Swiss-A scoring race. The thing I wonder is what the Red Wings are thinking about him, given that he’s playing with a pair of their guys. Even if they aren’t overly interested, someone else very well might be – and Omark’s quote in August (“[A]t this moment, all I can do is to have one heck of a season (in Switzerland) and hopefully that could open up for [an NHL] return”) sounds good right now.
4. Ales Hemsky leads HC Paradubice in scoring. Ales Hemsky’s back playing for his home town team, and he’s posted 16 points (including seven goals) in 14 contests to date. It’s a number that compares favourably with teammate David Krejci (10GP-7G-4A-11PTS) and it’s a good sign for Oilers fans. The last time Hemsky played for Paradubice was during the 2004-05 lockout, where he was the playoff MVP for the entire league, and he used that season to transition from a useful young player to a bona fide difference maker at the NHL level.
5. Ladislav Smid shows his offensive side. Playing for the Liberec White Tigers, Ladislav Smid’s been surprisingly offensive. He has eight points through 14 games, good for third place in team scoring. Liberec has struggled in the early going, with Petr Nedved (18 points in 17 games) their best scorer. Things might be on the up-swing, though – NHL’ers Wayne Simmonds and Chris Stewart have recently joined the team (though it hasn’t been all good for Simmonds).
6. Lennart Petrell: all goals, no assists. Petrell got off to a hot start in Finland with an opening night hat-trick, and he’s continued to rack up the goals. Through 12 contests, Petrell has scored eight times and one plus-5, but strangely he has yet to record a single assist. I know he has a good, hard shot, but it’s a little odd to see the imbalance.
7. Daniil Zharkov’s off to a poor start. Last year’s third-round pick – a Russina winger in the OHL listed at 6’4” and with a gift for scoring goals – is not having the kind of season a scout wants to see. Through 13 contests, Zharkov has managed only six points.His goal-scoring has started to come back, though – over Belleville’s last five games, Zharkov has scored three times.
8. Remember Alexander Bumagin? There’s no special reason to recall Bumagin; the Oilers took a flyer on him with a sixth round pick in 2006 after a solid year in Russia, and to date the player has shown no particular interest in coming to North America. As things have happened, the Oilers haven’t really had a lot of reason to recruit him, either. However, 2012-13 is shaping up as a career year for the 25-year old Russian – with 18 points in 22 KHL games, he’s just three points back from his best points total over a full KHL campaign. As far as I can tell, the Oilers still own his NHL rights.
9. Remember Rob Schremp? Of course, there are all kinds of special reasons to remember Rob Schremp, one of the Oilers first round picks in 2004. He too has found KHL employment, with Riga Dynamo, where he’s struggled badly with just a single goal and six points over 20 games. Former Oilers farmhand Alexandre Giroux plays for the same team – he has seven goals and nine points over 21 contests.
10. A full-season to buyout players? On Oilers Now yesterday, Bob Stauffer suggested that NHL owners might be wise to copy the NBA model and have a full season after the new collective bargaining agreement to buyout players. It makes some sense – particularly since he tied it together with the idea of a “transition year” to get down from the current 57/43 percent split of hockey-related revenue down to 50/50. He tied it together with the “wow factor” move we talked about yesterday but the most obvious application is a guy already on the Oilers roster. Shawn Horcoff makes $6 million next season; over the two following years he’ll be paid a combined total of $7 million. If there’s a full season buyout window, as Stauffer suggests, it would be a slam dunk for the Oilers to play the year with Horcoff and then buy him out in the summer of 2013.
Of course, we’re speaking entirely in hypotheticals here, but if there’s a transition window – which is one of the options the NHL and NHLPA have to bridge the gap between their respective positions – it would make a lot of sense.
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