Since 2010, the Edmonton Oilers have been sending prospects to Oklahoma
territory in order to grind their skills into useful assets. “Iron out
the mistakes” I once heard it called, by a Triple A baseball manager,
and that seems about right. I believe we’re about to see at least two
very good rookie seasons from the current group of youngsters graduating
to the AHL.
ROOKIES WHO COULD IMPACT THIS FALL
- Bogdan Yakimov, who played in the
KHL one year ago and posted an impressive WJ’s. He’s a big center with
good hands, a perfect fit for the Barons/Oil.
- Jujhar Khaira, a big center who may be a little shy offensively but has already shown some nice things.
- Iiro Pakarinen, a Finnish winger with grit who found the offensive range last year.
- Mitchell Moroz, who has a middling LW depth chart to beat for a top 9F opportunity.
Over the summer I posted projections for the Barons, they are here.
It got me wondering about the best rookie seasons by OKC Barons over
the years. Are those impressive seasons an indicator of future success?
Let’s have a look.
5 BEST ROOKIE SEASONS BY OKLAHOMA CITY BARONS
- D Justin Schultz 2012-13 (34GP, 18-30-48). Won all the hardware despite being in the AHL for half a season. Schultz was sensational—his linemates were certainly a factor—and the time in Oklahoma with the Barons is his current pro highlight.
D Jeff Petry 2010-11 (41GP, 7-17-24).
A defenseman drafted and developed to success under the Oiler flag
happens about as often as France wins a war, but Petry was and is the
C Mark Arcobello 2010-11 (26GP, 11-11-22).
The guy has been the human lawnmower since arrival and is now a
legit member of the NHL team. From AHL contract and a wing and a prayer
to where he is today is Everest in hockey terms. You could write a book.
LW Toni Rajala 2012-13 (46GP, 17-28-45).
Undersized skill winger ripped it up and then was gone. Rajala left the
organization, had a strong year in Sweden and is off to a good start in the KHL this year.
LW Teemu Hartikainen 2010-11 (66GP, 17-25-42).
Fans didn’t really know what to expect—Harski was a big Finn but had no
draft pedigree—but the big man scored at evens and on the power play
and emerged as a solid prospect.
BONUS ROOKIES (THREE WHO WERE CLOSE)
D Martin Marincin 2012-13 (69GP, 7-23-30).
Huge defender played lights out early, struggled middle and brought it
all home at the end of his rookie pro season. His offensive ability
hasn’t come with him to the NHL (yet).
D Taylor Fedun 2012-13 (70GP, 8-19-27).
A wonderful season from a brave defenseman. Fedun is a little shy on
size and footspeed for the NHL, but that hasn’t slowed him down and at
the AHL level he is/was outstanding. A real pleasure to watch in OKC.
D David Musil 2013-14 (61GP, 2-10-12).
This may not look like an obvious choice, but Musil’s foot speed was a
legit concern entering his first year in the minors. For him to show so
well, and change so many minds, is impressive.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
There are several examples of rookies impacting the AHL and then not making the next step, but Marincin and Arcobello look to join Schultz and Petry in the coming season. The Barons have a lot of catching up to do in order to overcome the minor league chaos of 2004-09, but there are good arrows and they begin with showing well in the AHL as rookies.
For Yakimov, Moroz, Pakarinen and Khaira a strong debut season in the AHL is the goal. This is a marathon not a sprint, and a full season stumble can have a massive impact.
(All Barons’ photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)