GERNAT’S PUSH

When young men make the transition from junior to pro, there’s a period of adjustment. A player like Martin Gernat (in photo) went from being one of the oldest players on WHL ice to playing against men 15 years his senior overnight. It takes some time to work that through—sometimes an entire year—but the OKC Barons splits show some very good signs for Martin Gernat and Oilers fans.

SPLITS

  • Gernat in October-November: Bakersfield (ECHL) 3, 0-1-1; OKC (AHL) 11, 0-3-3 -4
  • Gernat in December-January: 13, 2-7-9 +3
  • WITH THE BARONS: 24, 2-10-12 -1

Gernat came from the same hometown as Martin Marincin and has some similarities in style, so the Oilers are likely to follow the same path with Gernat as they did with the other Slovakian. Coach Todd Nelson hasn’t used him on the power play as much as we’d think (Gernat got his first AHL PP assist on Friday night, all other points have been at even strength) but that is likely to come.

Earlier this season, Jonathan Willis gave us a terrific view into Gernat as a new pro:

  • Jonathan Willis: Martin Gernat’s been playing mostly third-pairing minutes (when he plays) and he’s been okay. His talent is obvious, much as it was with Marincin a year ago; he’s big and fast and gifted with the puck. With that said, he’s also a chaotic defender – again, it’s difficult not to compare him to Marincin as a rookie pro – and he’s only really shown himself ready for the minutes he’s been given, no more.

We can see that scouting report reflected in the October-November numbers: not a lot of trust from the coach, and if anyone is sent down from the big club then he’s off to Bakersfield to play. That’s completely normal, nothing unexpected here.

The surprise is the quick improvement by the player.

  • Anton Lander after Gernat’s 2 goal game last night: “He’s played in Europe and Canada but I’ve been in the same situation. Here it’s different rules, a different system. Everything is new. Everyone knows he has great hands. It was great to see him score his first goal.”

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

There’s something happening in Oklahoma City.

  • Brad Hunt: “You see them getting better every day. Guys like (David) Musil, (Martin) Gernat and (Oscar) Klefbom are doing awesome for first-year guys. Guys like (Brandon) Davidson, (Taylor) Fedun and myself, we’re second-year guys.”

Prospects never develop in a straight line, and there’s a lot of chaos to be ironed out of Martin Gernat’s game. However, one main question—will he bring his offensive game with him from junior—appears to be on a good track. If the Barons give him more power-play time, Gernat could post a dramatic statistical improvement in the season’s second half.

 Photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved

  • Spydyr

    I fear that the Oiler “Development System” is limited to delivering good, solid AHL players but can’t take it one step further: good NHLers.

    Wake me when Marincin, Nurse, Oscar, Moroz, Gernat et al are in Edmonton.

  • PutzStew

    It has been great reading about these young guys developing, especially these big, mobile D-men like Gernat and Marincin. If Hamilton is indeed emerging, and Pitlick can continue his strong play our system will be setup much better than it has in the past.

    The problem is that teams that used their system with great success are teams that play well at the professional level. Hence they can let their prospects develop, prosper and compete for roster spots. Despite all the high draft picks and roster overhaul the Oilers are a long way from that position.

    Not sure how they will be able to do it, but here’s hoping the Oilers will do right by these prospects, and the younger ones like Nurse, Chase, Khaira. Unfortunately, when you’re on a slippery slope, you grasp at anything to slow you down….

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    I’ve been watching Marincin closely and I’ve really liked his game so far. He made a lot of nice passes in pressure situations in his own end, especially in the corners using his long reach. Ya he has made some mistakes but there are so many mistakes being happening at once in our own end that its hard to point the finger at Martin. If he was sent down tomorrow I would call this latest call up a success.

  • Batfink

    This kid is in trouble as soon as he will depend on Steve Smith (Lowe’s favourite coffee delivery boy) to teach him the NHL game. Having zero quality veteran 2-way d-men to teach him doesn’t help either.

  • Keep Gernat and the rest of the d men procuring in the AHL and CHL as far away from Steve Smith as possible. Once Smith is replaced with a competent defensive coach, then and only then should these guys be asked to make the jump.

    • Lofty

      Has anyone noticed if the Barons back-up into there own zone and give up the blue line as easily as the Oilers?

      I get livid watching the oil D retreat rather than standing up at the blue line. They seem to have no problem pinching in the offensive zone but standing forwards up at the blue line entering the zone is a greater liability?

      I wonder how how many more goals our top two lines of forwards would score if they played against a D that lets them enter the zone so easily.

      • It’s much easier to stand up a forward at the blue line when your forwards are backchecking and providing back pressure. We rarely do that. Not that i’m defending the mess of a d core that is the oilers, but backchecking is just another one of many important parts of the game that is undervalued by our skilled guys.

    • **

      Amen!

      … That’s really all I have to say. I just can’t get too excited about defensive prospects when you know that them making the jump the the NHL is the equivalent of them being thrown to the wolves.

  • PutzStew

    So let me get this straight. This is a site with a mostly male viewership, and yet on the right hand and top of my screen there is an advertisement for Match.com and it is all men photo’s?

    Seriously. Did the Oilers take over this site ?

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    I for one think that the poison infecting the Oilers is thankfully not affecting the Barons.

    How ironic that the coach passed over…….. is doing so much with so little. He has been robbed by the big club over and over again but still motivates his players. No excuses from him or throwing players under the bus.

    Hint to Eakins: play to your players strengths not their weaknesses. Ramming a defensive system down their throats that only Eakins understands is just plain stupid.

    Although I have been very critical of Eakins ( right from the start) I do think he is the best candidate for drafting Ekblad.

  • Fossil

    Nothing will change with this team until it understands what a good complete player is. There have been numerous, big strong players drafted or traded to this team, that were unsuccessful do to the player as a person. When drafting high the Oilers are looking at players who have been micro managed since age 12. If any coach along the way dared try to instill defense at the expense of the kids stats, would quickly be looking for work. A high bantam draft to hopefully achieve high junior draft status is the equivalent of winning the lottery. Today players have agents, or parents that will become agents when they are in grade 8. What is missing from some of these players is proper coaching, by not having to follow the same rules, and heart. You can’t teach heart. The Oilers and Canada’s junior team, need to do a more thorough job of scouting how a player develops to determine heart and character.

  • Reading this I couldn’t help but be very skeptical. My mind was full of all the ways the kid will flop, fail, suck, lose, disappoint, choke, giveaway, fall, get hurt, beat up and crush my spirits.

    I have become incapable of optimism or any hope for the future.

  • Lofty

    Felt Gernat was gem from his first training camp. Could see raw talent and instincts. If he puts on 20 pounds and developes for 2-3 good years in OKC and turns into a player, then Stu will get his Magnificent Bastard Tag back .

    With the emergence of Gernat, Marincin, Pitlick things are looking better. Moroz and JarJar, and Simpson look solid too. Hell even Hamilton looks like a player all of sudden. The Oilers just need these guys to overrippen. The next two years after this year quality vets should be brought in OKC and a couple Calder runs should ensue. I think the depth is there.

  • Alsker

    GDB Please.

    NSOGDB – this goes to a shootout and Gagner in spite, drifts one into
    Row 34 on purpose. Yak decides he would rather shoot on Dubnyk
    and banks one of the wall to himself for a one timer beating Dubnyk of course. But the league counts it and we win 4-3.

    Seriously – The Oil will win this one, because it is just the way things have
    gone.

    Where the heck is Pitlick ? Not that he will turn this team around, but i want to see him play again.

  • Alsker

    I watched the first half of the Barons game last night. I was very impressed with Gernat. Real good skater and good with the puck. Good skating backwards and sliding to the side to defend. He did however make a big blunder getting walked around by misreading. Love the ability though.

  • Alsker

    Wow 3 bells and no GDB yet, guess its not just the players who have checked for this season. But who could blame them(ON writers that is…players make enogh $s to give a sh*t). Fingers crossed that its a huge trade announcement we’re waiting on!!!!! Our towel boy for Wpgs. Bold!!!

  • **

    I heard that ‘the Lord of the Six rings whose name cannot be spoken by mere 2nd tier fans was seen buying a hockey stick at a garage sale recently. Maybe He is planning a comeback to show mere mortals how the Gods of the Game can play. Or maybe he has rats in his man-cave? Who knows?

    Happy 2014 prez. May you be fired with haste.