BARONS READY TO ROLL!

The Oklahoma City Barons roster looks set now, and some of the things we discussed earlier (where’s the offense going to come from?) have been solved by the names who didn’t get NHL jobs. The opening night lineup has plenty of surprises and a lot of NHL experience. The quality prospects are mostly defensemen.

LINES

Lines this morning (C-L-R) courtesy Eric Rodgers

  • Anton Lander-Linus Omark-Derek Nesbitt: This should be a high end skill line if they keep it together. Nesbitt scored 26 AHL goals last season, Lander found the range offensively late and Omark is an exceptional player based on his last OKC experience. You could call this an "ideal" offensive situation for Lander.
  • Ryan Martindale-Ryan Hamilton-Matt Ford: This is an interesting line. Martindale is a 2010 draft pick who has never been able to get untracked, and Hamilton is a terrific scorer at this level (30 AHL goals one year ago). Ford had a subpar season on year ago but has scored 26 in an AHL season. Like Lander, Martindale appears to be getting a push (if this line holds).
  • CJ Stretch-Ryan Jones-Tyler Pitlick: This should be a fun line, Stretch has a lot of skill and Jones should be a productive offensive player in the AHL. Ryan Jones has played only 44 AHL games since turning pro (17-10-27). Pitlick gets a nice opportunity with two superior offensive players.
  • Travis Ewanyk-Kale Kessy-Erick Lizon: This will be the hammer line, with Ewanyk always willing to throw his weight around and Kessy bringing toughness and a willingness to fight to every game. Lizon is a pure enforcer.

Forwards on the roster and not mentioned here are Andrew Miller, Austin Fyten, Nicolas Tremblay and Ben Eager.

THE BLUE

Again courtesy Rodgers, here are the D pairings:

  • Martin Marincin-Taylor Fedun: Two of the top defenders a year ago and this makes sense as a pairing. Marincin has the draft pedigree and plenty of puck moving ability, while Fedun is a player who can be underrated unless you see him over a period of games. Both are legit NHL prospects.
  • Brandon Davidson-Phil Larsen: This could be a nice AHL tandem, but one wonders if Larsen will end up back in Edmonton sometime during the season. Davidson, like Fedun, grows on you as viewings increase, and I’m looking forward to seeing his progress this season.
  • David Musil-Martin Gernat: Bruce McCurdy from Cult of Hockey dreamed of seeing this pairing for the Oil Kings, but will have to fly to Oklahoma too see it in person. Musil has a veteran’s understanding of the defensive aspects of the game, but footspeed keeps his body from getting things done at pace. Gernat is a big, lanky kid who has top level ability but remains a raw talent. It’ll be fascinating to watch them during their entry level deals.
  • Brad Hunt-Joey Leach: Hunt has already had a productive AHL season, one suspects he’ll get plenty of PP time with the Barons. Leach was taken 73rd overall by the Flames in the 2010 Entry draft (12 spots behind Martindale) and will be the physical stay at home defender who can also handle the rough stuff.

Oscar Klefbom skated today but is going to take a little while to recover (blocked a shot earlier in the week). Goalies Richard Bachman and Olivier Roy are set.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

An AHL team is about learning how to be a pro, about grinding ability into useful role players and about waiting until graduation day comes. There’s real talent here, including quite a bit of the top level of the organization’s Top 20 prospects. From my September top 20:

  • #2 D Oscar Klefbom
  • #3 D Martin Marincin
  • #5 D Martin Gernat
  • #11 D David Musil
  • #16 D Taylor Fedun
  • #17 D Brandon Davidson
  • #18 C Andrew Miller
  • #20 L Kale Kessy

As you can see, this is a defense heavy prospect season in Oklahoma City. The Barons season gets underway Friday against Charlotte (in OKC). Photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved.