It’s been a painful off-season for fans of the Oklahoma City Barons. Losing one of their favorite adopted sons Kristian Pelss without getting a chance to say goodbye, and the steady stream of news about other Barons heading to new stops in the hockey world. Barons fans will need a program, but we can begin to see what’s heading to Oklahoma this fall and winter.


One thing is certain: the Barons organization (and the Oil Kings, too) will pay tribute to Kristians Pelss this season. The Oil Kings are planning an evening September 27th (I believe the organization wanted to pay their respects outside of opening night festivities) and will wear a patch on their helmets too.  I’ve not heard of Barons plans, but suspect we’ll get more as the scene shifts from Edmonton to Oklahoma City late this week.

The Barons will definitely be without several other starters from last year’s team, including goalies Yann Danis and Niko Hovinen, defensemen Alex Plante, Colten Teubert, Randy Jones and Garrett Stafford, plus forwards Toni Rajala, Teemu Hartikainen, Chris VandeVelde, Tanner House, Jonathan Cheechoo, Phil Cornet and Magnus Paajarvi. That list doesn’t include the "NHL kids" like Nuge, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle who also spent extended time there last fall. The biggest star in OKC last year–Justin Schultz–won’t return for a decade or more (if ever).


There will be some familiar faces for the Barons fan this winter, several of the players Edmonton currently has in camp should be heading south in the next few days. The current Barons roster looks like this:

  • Goalies (3): Olivier Roy, Tyler Bunz, Shane Madolora
  • Defense(8): Brandon Davidson, Martin Gernat, David Musil, Joey Leach, Matt Krug, Jesse Dudas, Andrew Himselson, Wes Cunningham
  • Center(7): CJ Stretch, Nicholas Tremblay, Joel Broda, Chase Schaber, Travis Ewanyk, Alex Lavoie, Preston Shupe
  • Left Wing (5): Derek Nesbitt, Austin Fyten, Kale Kessy, Kale Kerbashian, Ryan Barlock
  • Right Wing (3): Matt Ford, Erick Lizon, Cameron Abney

There are only a handful of quality prospects in the group (my list would be Gernat, Davidson, Musil, your mileage may vary) but the one thing history tells us about the AHL: draft pedigree doesn’t mean a hill of beans.


We’re not far away from a pile of players being assigned to the minor league camp (which opens tomorrow), but it’s fun to guess which players will make the grade (and then it follows the leftovers will be Barons). A guess might look like this:

  • Goalies (2): Richard Bachman, Ty Rimmer
  • Defensemen (4): Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Taylor Fedun, Brad Hunt
  • Center (4): Mark Arcobello, Anton Lander, Ryan Martindale, Andrew Miller
  • Left Wing (3): Linus Omark, Ben Eager, Curtis Hamilton
  • Right Wing (2): Mike Brown, Tyler Pitlick

I have Jujhar Khaira and Darnell Nurse returning to junior, and Will Acton, Ryan Hamilton plus 8 defenders making the team (Potter IR). Again, your mileage may vary.


The projected Barons roster looks high on prospect blue and low on goals. Depending on how many of these forwards clear waivers, the club could begin the season with 4 established offensive players: Derek Nesbitt, Mark Arcobello, Matt Ford and Linus Omark.

That leaves plenty of room for prospects play in offensive roles, but if they don’t deliver–and they haven’t yet–it could be a long winter for Barons fans.

(all Barons photos courtesy Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved)

  • Spydyr

    IMO the Oilers worry to much about losing players to the waiver wire. There are more then a few teams that will be waiving better players then the Oilers.The team should be watching the waiver wire looking for a center .

    • She puts the ho in Oklahoma.. definitely not a complaint on my part.

      On topic, I don’t see both Eager and Brown being sent down, as much as most people want that. I think I’d bet that Brown will stay up even though he doesn’t seem popular in these parts.. or at least his skillset isn’t very appreciated. And I understand that… he’s not a heavyweight goon (which I see no need for anyways), and he’s not a skill guy. But I think he’s Eakins’ kind of player.. for the 4th line. He might sit lots, but he’ll be available for the BoA’s and vs. Vancouver and such. I also think he has ability to play the PK.If that’s the case, might as well use him for that in games he’s dressed.

      As far as Eager, I’m very skeptical he has what it takes anymore (thanks to Tulupov).

  • Time Travelling Sean

    Can’t we trade for Franson? For like two 3rd round picks or something? He seems a good defensemen and Toronto is burning a bridge with him and we can give him to contract he wants.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      he is a good d-man, but we simply don’t need him. with Klefbom, Nurse and Marincin coming very soon and Petry, Smid and Ference already here, plus Belov, Larson, etc, there really isn’t any room for him.

  • DieHard

    How many more years is the agreement in place between Edmonton and OKC?

    There has to be a tipping point somewhere along the line here where OKC’s brass along with Edmontons pull the plug on this franchise. Is 4000 fans a game feasible to make money? They’ll draw fly’s this season. The economy is focused on 2 things. Rebuilding after last years tornado’s and football. I don’t see where they’ll be a lot of excitement over this years lineup. I guess if someone is willing to lose money its fine by me. Personaly though I would like the Oilers to move their franchise to a place like Kansas City.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Why don’t you think both Brown and Eager can be on the fourth line, they both can skate and be physical?
    That photo gives a pair of real good reasons to go to a Barons game.

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        That’s my point. He wouldn’t be productive here, just like Linus Omark leading the Swiss league isn’t going to translate to him leading the NHL. So Harski will likely stay where he can be productive and making a living. Just like players who succeed at the AHL level but can’t score at the NHL level. That trend is seen time and time again.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    All the finns in the Oilers organization :
    Hartikainen , Rajala , Tyravainen , Hovinen , and Petrell all dismissed or let loose from the Oilers in one summer . Even the swede with a finnish name in Paajarvi was traded . I’d like to call this the great finn purge of 2013 .

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    I was at the game tonight and Belov looked good ….even without the puck and away from the play ….played a strong positional game (except on the nucks second goal)

    Of course Hall was the best player on the ice …..Perron and Brown were also standouts…….Lebarbera was shakey for his two periods…was fighting the puck the whole time he was on the ice….Rimmer looked good for a third string goalie.

    Oilers carried the play for 70% of the night…against a Canucks roster without 8 or 9 of their top players.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Belov looks like a keeper off first impression . Nurse played well and with several others during game . Looked better with Belov than Grebs did . That Hunt sure plays well considering his size . Nurse is making a strong case to stick with club – plays well with everyone so far . Van took it to us physically , but we still prevailed where as in past we might have folded .

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Yak was strong…playing with confidence even with non NHL line mates. Also, Oilers were strong on breakouts and a few stretch type passes….and puck retrieval and possession in the offensive zone….good puck support for whoever was forechecking caused several Canucks turnovers in the Canucks zone…..looks like Eakins systems are having some positive effects already…..either that or just an illusion caused by Canucks mostly AHL roster.

    Good pace for a pre season game.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I liked Belov tonight as well, especially considering his jet lag issues, but depending on his adjustment to NA hockey, he may need a few weeks in the AHL, which would open an extra spot for a forward. With Nuge almost certainly out to begin with Acton and Lander should make the opening day roster, with one of Jones, Eager, Brown and Hamilton coming down. Right now that deserves to be Jones, who was totally listless Saturday, but is more likely to be Hamilton or Eager.

    If Belov earns a spot off the bat, they must either put Larsen through waivers or move another forward down, with another sure to come when Nuge is cleared to play, likely either Acton or Lander. Glad to see some healthy competition for spots.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Our defence looks like it has several candidates ready for that position , and one has to wonder if one will be used in a trade for a skilled big forward with grit . Does Smid , N.Schultz have enough offensive flare to remain in top 6 , I ponder ?

    • YFC Prez

      Regardless of offensive flare, or lack there of ,there are no bubble defensemen signed by MacTavish this off season that are ahead of Smid in the pecking order. Including Belov (lets just make sure we know what we have in Belov before trading away a very solid D-man)

      Trading Smid for a forward hurts the backend, badly. He is a fine D man.

      I only want too see trades that improve the oilers now.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Here’s an interesting problem – Hall looks great at center, like a young Mark Messier, so what if Eakins keeps him there when Nuge returns? Does Gagner center the third line? Not likely given his defensive liability and weakness on the faceoff. So does he move to the wing? So much for the weakness at center.

    An interesting thing in last nights game was the play of the fourth line – Brown, Jones and Acton had some incredible shifts cycling and hounding the opposition relentlessly. I didn’t see who they were up against but I know if you are being bottled up by that line you might as well buy your bus ticket to the AHL right now.

    One last observation – its one thing to draft decent talent like Shinkarauk and Horvat. They looked ok and in a few years they might be decent pros. Its another thing to draft first overall. Yak and Hall glitter and sparkle like precious jewels out there. You have to suck and endure the years of humiliation. But, man, is it worth it.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Agreed, Brown impressed the hell out of me driving the net last night. Jones took a couple dumb penalties, but that kind of comes with 4th line duties. Good on Acton for potting the empty netter, I bet his dad was proud of him.

      Yak deserved that goal he scored, he and Hall were tanks out there. What a great celly from Yak too, I love watching this kid score goals.

    • YFC Prez

      The way they both look this pre season I’m starting to feel a little comfortable with a 4th line with both of these players on it.

      IMO Brown was the second best oiler last night behind Hall and was quick to answer the elbow to Halls head.

      I Want to see how they fair when the competition is 100% NHL players, but I like what I see so far, great compete from both.

  • YFC Prez

    Several physical liberties were taken by Canucks with little to no pushback from squad other than Brown after a shift where Weise tried to concuss Hall . He should be suspended for that hit . Our division will be playing us the same way once season starts , and I don’t feel we have enough deterrents to stop it . Nor do we respond very well to our teammates getting run .

      • The Soup Fascist

        The real madjam . Comment 22 was the false one . Besides , I rather like Joensuu at this stage . Clarifying comment on trading a defenceman with little offensive flair , was something MacT. alluded to – he wanted defence to be more active in offence and transition game . I believe he stated he wanted more out of Smid , as I recall .

        I thought last nites game was Halls worst to date at center , and several poor passes .

  • The Soup Fascist

    This article was penned prior to the game last night. Lowetide , did the game last night do anything to change your mind about Brown and Eager both being OKC – bound? The Oilers were getting their show run physically and Acton, Hamilton, Jones and a few others had no interest in responding with hits of their own. Brown of course did go after Wiese and was flying around. Brown had a very effective game IMO.

    Edit: just read your latest offering on Lowetide. You answered my question there. You still have Hamilton et al > Brownie. Agree to disagree, respectfully.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      I also respectfully disagree with Lowetide here. Brown is more valuable to the Oilers than Acton, Hamilton , or Jones…and IMO…it’s not even close.

      Besides his desperately needed physical presence, his all round game is better than the other three at this point. There’s no way Brown gets sent down.

      Gagner lost a few chicklets, Hall was almost concussed, Nurse was driven hard into the boards from the side..and other liberties were taken by Canucks players…and little to no response from anyone other than Brown. And this was just pre-season.

      Before this game, I was really enjoying watching Nurse play with the big boys and was hoping to see him get 9 games in the bigs this year….NOW…I hope he gets sent back to junior before the next game….

      At 185 pounds and a lanky frame…the injury risk is too high playing against NHL power forwards and the likes of the Raffi Torres’s of the league. Protect the investment for one more year.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Not sure how many people saw it or if it made the CBC telecast, but a Canuck went to hit Nurse a little late and got a mouthful of lumber (err …. composite) for his troubles.

        Brought a little tear to my eye …….

  • The Soup Fascist

    RIP Sam Gagner’s teeth! Nasty play by Kassian there. It was a good game though, minus some shaky moments by Labarbera in the first bit, but Rimmer seemed solid. Perron is going to be gangbusters for us. Really nice game by him.

  • Thumby

    I liked what I saw from Nurse again last night. This kid seems very composed. He made several good plays under pressure and looked very solid again.

    The only concern at this point is his weight. He seemed to get rag dolled a bit on just about every hit that he took and I think he needs a year down in junior simply to beef up. Imagine him at 200 lbs plus…with his frame, he’s probably going to end up being 225 when he’s matured…scary!

    No knock on him at all as the rest of his game seems nhl ready but it would do us no good to have his 185lb frame get crunched and then see him miss a development season due to injuries.

    I think its prudent for all us fans to realize the best course of action is to send him down after a few nhl games and let this fine wine in the making “age” until its ready!

    • Coppperhead

      After a few NHL games? Heck no please….send him down now. Two reasons:

      1. We saw last night playing against the big bodies of the NHL he is a little vulnerable with his lighter frame. The last thing we need is someone to run him and have another D prospect with injury worries.

      2. Why take up a roster spot for a week to give him that taste? There are already 7 D (+ Potter on IR) likely belonging in the NHL this year. Schultz, Schultz Jr., Ference, Belov, Smid, Petry, Grebeshkov. I don’t think keeping an 8th D makes sense even for just a few games

      • Thumby

        I agree – send him down soon. I thought he had dislocated his shoulder on the one play where Smyth put the puck behind him and Nurse ended up getting pasted from behind into the plexi glass for his trouble. I think I almost vomited in my mouth thinking “here we go again…another shoulder surgery”.

        Zero upside in playing him against NHL big bodies right now.