Jujhar Khaira will very likely spend his rookie pro season in Oklahoma City, with fellow newcomers Bogdan Yakimov, Mitchell Moroz, Iiro Pakarinen and others. It’s exciting for Oilers fans, who have enjoyed watching plenty of defensemen develop but not many forwards. This could be a big rookie crop of forwards in 2014-15, likely the strongest in Barons’ history.
2010-11 BARONS ROOKIES (F’S)
- Teemu Hartikainen 66GP, 17-25-42
- Milan Kytnar 78GP, 13-16-29
- Phil Cornet 60GP, 7-16-23
- Mark Arcobello 26GP, 11-11-22
- Chris VandeVelde 67GP, 12-4-16
Hartikainen and VandeVelde both spent time in the NHL, but it looks like Mark Arcobello may emerge as the best rookie from the 10-11 Barons forward group. The small center forced his way into the Edmonton lineup last fall, and has a terrific opportunity again this season.
2011-12 BARON ROOKIES (F’S)
- Hunter Tremblay 68GP, 16-15-31
- Tyler Pitlick 62GP, 7-16-23
- Tanner House 68GP, 8-12-20
- Antti Tyrvainen 55GP, 6-13-19
- Curtis Hamilton 41GP, 5-6-11
- Cameron Abney 14GP, 0-0-0
Pitlick arrived for 10 games in the NHL last season, but the rest of this group is gone from the organization (save Hamilton, who is surely on his last chance in Texaco).
2012-13 BARONS ROOKIES (F’S)
- Toni Rajala 46GP, 17-28-45
- Anton Lander 47GP, 9-11-20
- Ryan Martindale 41GP, 6-8-14
- CJ Stretch 17GP, 5-3-8
- Kristians Pelss 20GP, 1-7-8
Rajala had a fine debut, but the Oilers sent him away. I imagine size concerns dictated their decision. Lander spent too much time in the NHL accomplishing little, but has flourished over time in Oklahoma. Martindale is a big skilled C, but he never got on track and was dealt. Oiler and Oil Kings fans know all about Kristians Pelss.
2013-14 BARONS ROOKIES (F’s)
- Andrew Miller 52GP, 8-26-34
- Austin Fyten 47GP, 7-13-20
- Travis Ewanyk 68GP, 7-5-12
- Kale Kessy 54GP, 2-4-6
Too soon to tell on any of these guys. Ewanyk has a lot of things Edmonton likes but is scoring well below the Mendoza line. Miller’s an interesting sort. He’ll need to step up in a big way this fall.
2014-15 BARONS ROOKIES (F’s)
- Bogdan Yakimov 14-9-23 (khl)
- Iiro Pakarinen 15-7-22 (sml)
- Mitch Moroz 12-10-22 (jr)
- Jujhar Khaira 7-11-18 (jr)
The numbers here are NHL equivalencies. I’ve used the Rob Vollman numbers here. This group of four is very likely to play 50 or more games (each) in the AHL in the coming year. There are no first-round picks in the group, but these are some of the highest picks Todd Nelson has seen in OKC since 2010 fall.
In previous seasons, Tyler Pitlick (high second round) and Travis Ewanyk (third round) came through town, but the four new hires boast some decent draft pedigree:
- Tyler Pitlick, 31st overall in 2010
- Mitchell Moroz, 32nd overall in 2012
- Curtis Hamilton, 48th overall in 2010
- Ryan Martindale, 61st overall in 2010
- Jujhar Khaira, 63rd overall in 2012
- Travis Ewanyk 74th overall in 2011
- Cameron Abney, 82nd overall in 2009
- Bogdan Yakimov, 83rd overall in 2013
- Chris VandeVelde 97th overall in 2005
- Toni Rajala, 101st overall in 2009
- Kale Kessy, 111th overall in 2011
- Milan Kytnar, 127th overall in 2007
- Phil Cornet, 133rd overall in 2008
- Teemu Hartikanen, 163rd overall in 2008
- Kristians Pelss, 181st overall in 2010
- Iiro Pakarinen, 184th overall in 2011
The most offensive player is very likely Yakimov. He scored well in under 10 minutes a night in the KHL a year ago. Khaira’s offense is a concern, but he performed well in OKC at the end of the season, so we’ll see. Moroz will benefit from playing time and a defined role, offense should come at some point but might be in short supply in year one. A season similar to Pitlick’s as a rookie seems reasonable. The Finn Pakarinen is a little older (turns 23 on August 25) and might have more impact in year one because of it.
Edmonton is sending four prospects to Todd Nelson in Oklahoma City, and needs them to develop during their entry level contracts. Nelson has delivered Jeff Petry, Martin Marincin and Oscar Klefbom for the blue, with more on the way. Up front, it’s been a struggle, with Mark Arcobello, Anton Lander and Tyler Pitlick the best of a ragtag bunch.
The four new additions this fall should change that. The draft pedigree is superior, they have size and speed, and the Barons coaching staff is charged with playing them and allowing these prospects to develop. Up next: the defense.
Barons’ photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved.