HEAD OUT ON THE HIGHWAY

khaira ferguson2

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)

  1. Teemu Hartikainen 66GP, 17-25-42
  2. Milan Kytnar 78GP, 13-16-29
  3. Phil Cornet 60GP, 7-16-23
  4. Mark Arcobello 26GP, 11-11-22
  5. 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. 

pitlick ferguson3

2011-12 BARON ROOKIES (F’S)

  1. Hunter Tremblay 68GP, 16-15-31
  2. Tyler Pitlick 62GP, 7-16-23
  3. Tanner House 68GP, 8-12-20
  4. Antti Tyrvainen 55GP, 6-13-19
  5. Curtis Hamilton 41GP, 5-6-11
  6. 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).

rajala ferguson

2012-13 BARONS ROOKIES (F’S)

  1. Toni Rajala 46GP, 17-28-45
  2. Anton Lander 47GP, 9-11-20
  3. Ryan Martindale 41GP, 6-8-14
  4. CJ Stretch 17GP, 5-3-8
  5. 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. 

miller ferguson

2013-14 BARONS ROOKIES (F’s)

  1. Andrew Miller 52GP, 8-26-34
  2. Austin Fyten 47GP, 7-13-20
  3. Travis Ewanyk 68GP, 7-5-12
  4. 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. 

khaira ferguson

2014-15 BARONS ROOKIES (F’s)

  1. Bogdan Yakimov 14-9-23  (khl)
  2. Iiro Pakarinen 15-7-22 (sml)
  3. Mitch Moroz 12-10-22 (jr)
  4. 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.

    • Do what Weight did?

      Looking back over the last few years… Yikes! You’re at such a disadvantage if you never develop any of your own players. Hopefully one of these guys will be the first home-grown Oiler forward of the 2010’s

    • DieHard

      I like this new group coming in. Next year we could/should have Chase, Roy and Slepyshev. Those 7 make an interesting group. Someone should emerge. Hopefully more than just one.

      • Zarny

        Hayes appears to be a one season wonder ( last year only) , from riding coattails of Arnold and Gaudreau . Big , but slow apparently . Not sure Oilers all that interested in him . Who’s he going to beat out on our team ? Flames might be interested to try him out .

        • Jaxon

          The Bruins and Rangers are also interested. Boston is where he played college but they don’t seem to have the room to give him the icetime he wants and neither do the Rangers. The Flames are interested and they signed Hayes’ linemates Gaudreau and Arnold and they could probably give him some decent icetime. The Panthers could probably give him good icetime too and Hayes’ brother plays there. I don’t think Edmonton has a chance up against those advantages. He could become a good player but he doesn’t exactly fill a need in Edmonton. I do hope they are keeping their eye on RD Kenney Morrison though. He would definitely fill a need (especially if this is Petry’s or Shultz’s last summer) and Edmonton should have a good advantage in trying to sign him as he is originally from Lloydminster.

      • I agree he probably IS a player of interest for the Oil. However, he didn’t want to play in Chicago (if he did, he would have found a way to make the $$ work). I don’t think he will choose Edmonton and pretty sure the Oil will not have a chance of signing him….

        my guess would be Florida

    • No I in Team.

      Ya I think you are drastically underestimating Jujhar Khaura. You seem to place more value in the equivalencies than the exponential rate of this particular players development. Every time you talk about Khaira I think about Terry Jones eating one of his articles with sauerkraut. What would you like with your crow LT?

        • Lowetide

          LT
          Think you better check you notes about Khaira’s speed. I thought I heard a radio interview with him on 1260 a year or so ago where he said skating was his weakness.

          • Lowetide

            From the beginning, scouting reports on Khaira have mentioned power in his skating.

            Redline Report At Red Line, we believe this kid could be the biggest/best sleeper of the entire draft. Prince George is so far off the beaten path teams don’t even travel there for WHL games, much less BCHL contests, so he gets zero exposure. But this kid is big, mean, aggressive, nasty, and guess what… he can score too. Does the dirty work in the corners, bangs bodies and wins battles, and loves to initiate heavy contact. Powerful stride with great balance and gets leverage on his hits. Has surprisingly soft hands and puck skills with playmaking ability. Creates lots of space for smaller teammates and makes everyone braver. Very raw defensively.

      • Zarny

        Exponential growth in this players development?

        43 pt in 59 games. He wasn’t a pt/gm player in the WHL 2 years after being drafted.

        Compare that to Brian Bickell who had 83 PT in 67 games 2 years after being drafted and how his offense has translated to NHL.

        That’s a best case scenario for Khaira. Like the top 0.01% of scenarios.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      for a player i initially said “who?” when he was drafted, i like Khaira a lot, but his lack of offense is a concern for me too! i am hoping he finds a little more of it this season in the AHL.

    • Aitch

      If Khaira and Yakimov can turn out to be hold-your-own, take-no-prisoner centres, we may not be talking about a lack of depth at Centre for many years to come. Even if just one of them can develop over the next two years so they can be ready to replace Gordon when his contract is up, that’s all I really ask for.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        add Greg Chase into the mix, and a future with him, Khaira, Yakimov, Draisaitl and RNH would indeed actually solve the chronic center problem this team seems to always have.

    • Lowetide

      IMO .. Neither Draisaitl or Arco are penciled to make the team. So they better be ready to compete with players like Kharia and Yak. Do I expect these guys to make the team.. NO.. but ya never know look at SAAD. It does happen.. after all it is a camp where players are competing for spots. Should be a great camp this year.. Keep workin hard Boys.

    • Rusty Patenaude

      I am prepared to be trashed for this post…and quite frankly…I don’t give a damn.

      I agree with Lowetide, this group of rookies is loaded with potential and it is long overdue that the OKC Barons staff develop some NHL forwards.

      It seems that everyone loves Todd Nelson, but I am not so sold on his track record. It seems that he is very slow to allot playing time to young prospects, preferring rather to chase the Calder Cup with veteran AHLers.

      He has far too many misses on his resume for my liking (Plante, Omark, Lander and Pitlick (so far), Hamilton, Teubert)

      Not only am I not of the mind that Nelson is headed for the NHL, I think if he cannot produce a solid NHLer or better yet two out of these rookies, he ought to be shown the door. Developing NHLers is his primary job and so far, he hasn’t done that job in my opinion.

      • The players you have listed as examples all have warts. Plante was too slow for the NHL game; Teubert was drafted too high and does not have the hockey sense needed to play in the NHL; Pitlick is offensively challenged (we saw hints of this in junior when he did not produce as well as expected with the Tigers) and has a history of injuries; Lander has improved his skating but is on the small side has not shown he can contribute enough offensively to stay in the NHL yet; Hamilton does not skate well enough and does not compete at the level needed to make the NHL (he is another big Mr. Glass as well); and there is no need to explain Omark.

        As we have seen with the Oilers since the 2006 Playoff Miracle, a coach can only work with the players he is given. The Oilers have not drafted forwards well over the past few years outside of the 1st round and it is showing in their development system. Sure, injuries have hampered the development of a couple of prospects; but they have whiffed with almost all of their non-1st round forward picks. That seems to indicate the issue lies elsewhere in the organization to me………

        • I actually agree with both posts. I think Nelson, while highly touted, has not produced NHLers (yet) and the classes from ’10 to ’14 show that. (though ’14/’15 may be a different story)….

          Also agree that the Oil have drafted depth forwards poorly in the post-2006 era.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      As if any of us have a clue who’ll make it and who won’t. This is just nothing but a whole lotta wishful thinking. More propaganda in an effort to over inflate the tires of any number of these kids. This current regime of scouts are no better than the previous group of fired amateur scouts. These bozos have been at the helm most if not all of these last 8 years.

      To be still selling hope 5 years into this gong show is embarrassing.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      It does appear there is a slow progression in the NHLE of the younger prospects in OKC.

      However, we need some NHLE comparables with other AHL teams before anyone’s expectations advance too far ahead of reality.

      How does OKC compare with Abbotsford?

      Jankowski is up to 21 now. Poirier and Klimchuk trending well. Who is ahead?

      Watching Khaira play w Everett we need a conversion factor for NHLE because that team played very passively.

      • Lowetide

        I agree that’s a problem, Khaira played for an extremely defensive coach in Everett. How much of less air do we let out of his tires, though? It’s a tough call.

    • BlazingSaitls

      Realistic Expectations…

      Taylor Hall: 74gms/29/37/66pts, Hopkins: 80gms/21/42/63pts..Eberle 77gms/30/37/67pts…annnd..wait for it……Yakupov…82gms/41/34/75pts. Book it! Oh yeah and Draisaitl will end up with 58 pts..rookie of the year..Scrivens 65 games 932 save %..runner up to Vezzina. Oilers lose in 3rd round against Dallas..Oilers vs Stars rivalry is reborn
      .Seguin gains edge over Hall..Hopkins scores 12 points in 6 games in third round..future is bright..Scrivens is the new Ranford..Fasth the new Moog..J.Khaira scores 88 pts in 75 games in AHL..next Messier? Some say it is so.

            • The Soup Fascist

              So using that logic, Marcus Kruger is better than both?

              Not sure we can use playing on a very good team as the “go to” stat for measuring a player’s effectiveness.

              Maybe Seguin has turned a corner. However, if you watch “Behind the “B”, which is the Bruins equivalent of “Oil Change” (the big difference being that it is a behind-the-scenes- look at a winning franchise) there was a strong inference that Seguin’s off ice antics went a long way to hurting the Bruins in the 2013 playoffs. Despite rumblings that Hall enjoys the night life a bit, I am not sure what else the kid can do to show he is a pro and among the best in the league.

              Say what you want, Hall has been a very elite scoring machine who gives you everything he has on the ice virtually every shift.

              I will take Hall every day / all day over Seguin.

            • The Soup Fascist

              I am not saying the Oilers are a great team. Just saying that rating players by their number of playoff games is lunacy. And you don’t get better by swapping your best player for an inferior one.

              I would not trade Hall for a guy like Seguin (16 months removed from partying with his pals ’till 3 a.m. the night before playoff games) just because he played center for one year and put up very good numbers playing with Jamie Benn.

              By the comment of “your team” I assume you may not have the Oiler’s best interests at heart. If I say “trade Mark Giordano for Alex Martinez” because he has more playoff appearances and scored a Stanley Cup GWG, I could justify being just as silly.

        • Yea he might get more points but Hall has been in a 10000x more difficult situation then Seguin was in Boston.

          Seguin was brought up in a Stanley cup environment where as Hall has played and thrived under a bottom of the barrel team.

          In the end I think they will be the same calibre player but kudos will go to Hall for doing it under the circumstances in Edmonton.

    • Rdubb

      Sorry all, but I must use this to complain a little. I have said this before and will continue to complain about this every time I see it; it is when people use the word pedigree improperly, it’s meaning is:

      an ancestral line; line of descent; lineage; ancestry

      So basically, you can say “Nurse has a good athletic pedigree.” Why? Because both of his folks where high level athletes…
      But you cannot say “Nurse has a good hockey pedigree”. Neither parent played @ a high level.
      Just because a guy is drafted high doesn’t mean he has any kind of good pedigree, too many guys say that high draft picks have a good pedigree because of where they were drafted.
      It is the same for this article, where lowetide said “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.”
      Seriously, what does that have to with pedigree? Nothing, notta, zilch, zero…You can’t even use the excuse that lowetide is using the word to describe the size the new crop has inherited, but I’d say no one knows the size of their folks, for all we know all the parents could be 5’2″ @ the most…

      So, lowetide, PLEASE use the word correctly. Just because they’re drafted in the 1st round doesn’t mean they have good pedigree…
      It’d be real nice if you and your fellow writers here on ON could use the word properly when you do use it, and please use another word in it’s place when you know pedigree doesn’t fit…

      • BlazingSaitls

        I would like to file a complaint too. I’ve had enough of “pigeonhole” being misused.

        Too many people want to “pigeonhole” Yak or Eberle. It’s ridiculous because everybody knows that a “pigeonhole” is a small hole or roosting place for pigeons!

      • BlazingSaitls

        Someone needs a morning coffee. I understand it’s not the perfect use of the word, but we all know what it means and it’s an accepted use in the hockey community, so relax (or heck, chillaxe).

        I don’t like “footspeed” (I’m pretty sure foot is implied, ala tunafish vs. tuna) or “compete level” (find a way to fit “competitiveness” in there instead) but I don’t let it ruin my day.

    • WeridAl

      Khaira had great 1st game with the Barons but he seem to disappear after that. Was setup a number to times and couldn’t pull the trigger. More of a garbage collector in front of the net, often looking for the deflection. Skating seemed to be OK, and wouldn’t say it was a issue. Would say Moroz has a better set of hands by far, and better shot. Moroz is the better 2way player. Nelson will not rush these kids, meaning Khaira will most likely start on the 4th line working his way up, hopefully. Right now Ewanyk is higher in the pecking order, but things can change. The kid to watch out for will be C.Hamilton, game really turned around last season since coming back from injury. Nelson said he came back with a different attitude and you saw it in his play. Played well with Khaira, but like I said Khaira couldn’t pull the trigger when set up. The speed of the game could of been the reason, time will tell. Sounds like Moroz has recovered from his injuries, and should be a interesting season for him. He will no longer be the beast amongst kids and should be able to play at full speed. Will have to watch out for that stupid AHL 2 fight rule.

    • Building winners from prospects : Don’t coddle them or give them soft minutes . Rush them and make them play hard minutes under pressure . Those that respond well to that type of pressure , are the same ones that get to the next level and help one produce winners . The faster you respond to pressure positively , the more likely you make transition to NHL with a winners mentality . If you need soft minutes your not good enough , and will be a detriment to your club . You see how the elite clubs respond to pressure and up their games .

      Will Leon beat Selanne’s rookie totals – a paltry 76 goals and 56 assists first year ? Might he be close , or maybe even Gretzky’s 105 point first season ? How will he respond to that challenge ?

        • making the playoffs 23 years in a row? ugh….must be such a drag for Detroit fans getting to cheer in the playoffs every April…..

          I prefer the Edmonton model of sucking $h*t 8 years and watching the ground thaw in April…..so much more fun…..

          #whycanttheyfigurethisout