The Oklahoma City Barons are blowing the doors off the American Hockey League’s goalies, having scored 32 goals in eight games. There are five forwards scoring at a point-per-game or better, and three of those players are considered legit NHL prospects. So when Taylor Hall was injured Saturday night, it meant opportunity. No one has been recalled yet, but men like Iiro Pakarinen (in photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved) are pushing for their chance.
Tyler Pitlick is off to a terrific start to the AHL season, scoring 1-5-6 in the first six games of the year. He finally made it to the NHL last season and was playing well enough to earn consideration for a recall.
Pitlick apparently took a pretty good shot and he hasn’t played since. It’s a damn shame for Pitlick, who has been in the AHL since 2011-12 incurring injuries while trying to make an impression. Offense has always been his issue—he impressed Dallas Eakins last fall and during a fall callup—but there’s a window of opportunity and once again injuries impact his progression. Damn shame. Neal Livingston from Tend The Farm tells me Pitlick will be out a week or so.
Iiro Pakarinen has exploded on the AHL scene with a monster October (7GP, 5-3-8). Scouting reports have him skating very well, scoring, and being a disturber (typical Finn, God love him). He might be an ideal recall option, but he did tweak something toward the end of the Sunday game (although it is not considered serious). His 23 shots in seven games is very impressive.
Pinizzotto was acquired by the Oilers last season in a deal that sent away Ryan Martindale. The gritty winger had a good training camp before being beaten out for a job by Jesse Joensuu (and Will Acton’s versatility). Pinizzotto is scoring well (6GP, 0-5-5) and perhaps that game against Vancouver Saturday (the Canucks were running) convinces the Oilers to bring in a gritty winger.
WHO SHOULD WE BET ON?
Luke Gazdic! He’s two games into his rehab, scored a goal and is already on the 23-man roster. The Barons don’t play until Saturday and Gazdic could be in Philly by game time. It’s the reasonable bet, and we might hear news by game time (or later in the week).
For Pitlick, Pakarinen and Pinizzotto, there will be other opportunities. I expect Gazdic is the next Baron headed out of Oklahoma City.