The young OKC Barons are now deep into the playoffs, as they prepare to play Grand Rapids in game two tonight (lost a close one in the lid-lifter Friday). As the Edmonton Oilers continue to fill holes in the roster, the question for these young Barons becomes more clear: is there ROOM at the top? And if so, which of these young men have shown themselves worthy this season?
As the Barons got ready for training camp and the season, the depth chart looked something like this:
*Taylor Hall was injured but would eventually join the group.
It’s interesting to look back on that list and then look at last night’s lineup to see which of the AHL kids have moved up the depth chart.
LAST NIGHT’S GAME
Massive change. Some of the September Barons (Dan Ringwald, Alex Plante, Anton Lander, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale, Kristans Pelss, Colten Teubert) are scratched due to injury or ineffectiveness (Teubert specifically has seen his stock fall markedly this season).
- Martin Marincin: He had a crazy season–big upswing when playing with Justin Schultz and then down to the third pairing for a time until he regained his game. Now he’s on the top pairing.
- Taylor Fedun: Major upswing here imo. This is a guy who told me on the golf course last summer he just wanted to play and have a healthy season. His position as a go-to guy represents a strong season.
- Brandon Davidson: Incredible story. He missed part of the season for cancer treatment, came all the way back and is now one of the top 6 options–same season.
- Mark Arcobello: Undrafted free agent finally got to the NHL this season. Whatever the future holds, he’s beaten the odds and then some.
- Toni Rajala: Amazing year. Moved miles up the depth chart and is now a key part of the offense in OKC.
- Teemu Hartikainen: A strong playoff perhaps helps him recover from his play with the Oilers this season (no results at evens, a sense from the coach that he’s still learning the powerforward role)
- Tyler Pitlick: Finally healthy and chipping in some on offense.
- Colten Teubert: The fact that the organization has been very straightforward about why he’s not playing is the strongest available indication that he’s sideways as a prospect. I’d guess his pro hockey career is at a crossroads this summer.
- Alex Plante: Injuries have once again impacted his season, but 200+ games into his AHL career he appears to be farther from the NHL than ever.
- Curtis Hamilton: Injuries have poked a major hole in his first two seasons, and he’s never really established himself beyond a 4line/pk type of player. It’s difficult to marry the TOI/performance with the junior stats and the WJ appearance. A mystery wrapped in a riddle.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I think players like Marincin, Fedun and Rajala have done more than anyone in OKC to increase their value, and that Hartikainen’s performance may give him another chance to make the big club in the fall. And as always, several prospects struggled enough for us to wonder if they’ll return in the fall. Perhaps Craig MacTavish’s overhaul with extend to OKC and some of these young men have played their final games in the Oiler system.
(Barons photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)