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.
GONE FROM LAST SEASON’S TEAM
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).
THIS YEAR’S MODEL
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.
ON THE WAY
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.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
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)