For OKC coach Todd Nelson, this season must seem like a series of stanza’s, influenced heavily by the players flying in and out of town. It looks like the coach may finally have his horses.

(OKC photos by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).

Toni Rajala (#25) might not be the tallest recruit on the OKC roster but that young man is turning heads whenever he hits the ice. For coach Todd Nelson, Rajala is one of several players from Stockton (ECHL) who are now contributing in a big way at the AHL level. From the Thunder roster, Rajala is joined by Phil Cornet, Nathan Deck, Ryan Martindale and Kristians Pelss as notable contributors to the hockey club since the NHLers left town.

Barons GM Bill Scott has been busy too, bringing in Brett Clark and Jonathan Cheechoo via PTO’s and helping Nelson cobble together a solid AHL calibre roster.


The roster turnover has been incredible this season for the Barons. The lockout gave the club incredible riches, but also made it difficult to find chemistry when the lockout ended. The club spent much of January bleeding, as new roles for less capable players meant an adjustment period. Here’s a look at the difference between the two rosters, beginning with RNH’s final game for the Barons:

November 30, 2012 Barons GD Roster

  • L1: RNH-Hall-Eberle
  • L2: Arcobello-Cornet-Paajarvi
  • L3: Lander-Byers-Hartikainen
  • L4: Eric Hunter-Toni Rajala-Curtis Hamilton
  • D1: Marincin-Schultz
  • D2: Fedun-Teubert
  • D3: Henry-Plante
  • GOAL: Danis-Roy

February 1, 2013 Barons GD Roster

  • L1: Arcobello-Cornet-Cheechoo
  • L2: Martindale-Paajarvi-Tyrvainen
  • L3: VandeVelde-Pelss-Rajala
  • L4: Green-Byers-House
  • D1: Clark-Marincin
  • D2: Deck-Plante
  • D3: Andrew Hotham-Teubert
  • GOAL: Niko Hovinen, Olivier Roy (Danis in the pressbox)

Two months is a long time for a hockey club, but the roster turnover is incredible. From the November 30th team, the entire top line, plus Lander and Justin Schultz are in the NHL. The ECHL kids are making hay in the AHL now and of course the two Bill Scott pickups (Clark, Cheechoo) are having a big impact.


Jonathan Cheechoo tied a Barons record (held by Linus Omark and Jordan Eberle) with a 5-point game (1g, 4a) and his line (Mark Arcobello, Phil Cornet) combined for 13 points in the win over Charlotte. The ECHL kids (specifically Pelss and Rajala, along with Cornet) had an impact and the blue was solid across the board. New goalie Niko Hovinen was effective, especially in a busy third period.


The Barons have employed a total of 39 players so far this season–basically two teams. It has taken some time and a lot of miles for coach Todd Nelson, GM Bill Scott and the Oilers organization to get their house in order. Last night suggests it has been worth the effort.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    When you strip everything down, a coach is only as good as the players getting off the bus.

    Over coaching can bring the game to a standstill. Motivation moreso than coaching is the key. Coaching mostly benifits peripheral players.

    • Lowetide

      Especially considering the goal for AHL coaching staffs is development. Oilers have had some success in sending kids north since OKC era dawned, that’s the important item.

  • Lowetide

    Is’t good to see Jonathan Chechoo doing well again………you think he gets another chance in the NHL?

    I hope that Tony Rajala makes it to the bigs sometime, the kid seems to have heart, given his size.

    I wonder what happened to Marty Marincin starting so well…….and then falling off the face of the earth. I’m beginning to wonder if it has to do with something else besides hockey?

  • paul wodehouse

    …still don’t see any arrows pointing north for PRV …
    ..it’s not good that he stays on L2 from November and then again in February…to as you put it help Nelson cobble out some semblance of an AHL roster


    …y’know you’re getting old when?

    y’find out Britt Ekland is 70 years old …

  • RexLibris

    Glad to hear Pelss is making an impact this early in his pro career. His game reminds me so much of Darren Helm in junior, his motor is always running and you’ll never say “he didn’t look like he was really trying on that shift”.

    It’d be great to see Cheechoo back in the league, whether it is with or without the Oilers.

  • Truth

    The Barons can keep Cheechoo. The Oilers need Tootoo. It’s too bad he had the opportunity to go to Detroit.

    I can’t see Cheechoo being an option for the Oilers. He hopefully replaces the scoring that has been lacking since the kids went back to the NHL.

    The Oilers are still way too soft in the top 6. I’m not saying put JFJ on the top line, but a move to acquire a big talented winger would go a long way.

    Edit: Not that Tootoo is a big talented winger, the Oilers could use him in the bottom six