Tomorrow morning, the Oklahoma City Barons will play the San Antonio Rampage. Martin Marincin and Oscar Klefbom won’t be there, but perhaps they should be?
BARONS IN THE NHL, 2013-14
Last season, the Oilers dipped into the minor leagues a lot, especially for defensemen. Barons accounted 147 total games, and the blue line in Edmonton borrowed almost 100 man-games from the Barons:
- Phil Larsen 30GP, 3-9-12
- Martin Marincin 44GP, 0-6-6
- Oscar Klefbom 17GP, 1-2-3
- Steve Pinizzotto 6GP, 0-2-2
- Taylor Fedun 4GP, 2-0-2
- Tyler Pitlick 10GP, 1-0-1
- Anton Lander 27GP, 0-1-1
- Roman Horak 2GP, 1-0-1
- Brad Hunt 3GP, 0-1-1
- Linus Omark 1GP, 0-0-0
- Richard Bachman 3GP, 3.02 .916
The Oilers in 2013-14 were in crisis from the start of the year, and
experienced wobbly performances from defensemen like Anton Belov and Ladislav
Smid, and Denis Grebeshkov was unable to help at all. As shown above,
Martin Marincin, Phil Larsen, Oscar Klefbom and others occupied roster
spots at times last season, meaning fans got to see some of the good prospects perhaps
before they would have normally.
In the previous (shortened) season, none of the 49 man-games involved a defender:
- Teemu Hartikainen 23, 1-2-3
- Anton Lander 11, 0-1-1
- Chris VandeVelde 11, 0-0-0
- Yann Danis 3, 3.82 .881
- Mark Arcobello 1, 0-0-0
2014-15 BARONS IN THE NHL
So far this year, Edmonton has recalled several players in the first 15 games.
- Martin Marincin 9GP, 0-1-1
- Iiro Pakarinen 3GP, 1-0-1
- Keith Aulie 3GP, 0-0-0
- Bogdan Yakimov 1GP, 0-0-0
This season, Marincin and Aulie have played 12 games (Oscar Klefbom was on the opening night roster), but the blue line appears to be settling in now. Aulie may end up hanging around awhile and there’s a good chance one of Klefbom or Marincin is sent out. The Oilers blue has more structure than a year ago, and it appears more consistency. Barring injury, we shouldn’t see a lot of minor league defensemen in the NHL. The question then becomes “who among Aulie, Klefbom and Marincin” should be considered a minor league defenseman?
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Progress. It’s normal for a team to phase their young players in over a longer period and in a controlled way. If the club plays Martin Marincin another 45 games this season, and Klefbom 25 more, then both will have some experience next year. The club can then graduate Darnell Nurse and others only when ready.
Entering this season, it seemed almost impossible that Martin Marincin and Oscar Klefbom would spend extended periods in the minors. That seems far closer to a reality tonight: The Oilers play in Nashville tomorrow, and there’s every chance both Marincin and Klefbom will be in the pressbox.
It also serves as a reminder that prospects rarely develop in a straight line. Martin Marincin’s 2013-14 has apparently not been followed (so far) by the same level of performance.
There is no other way to frame this season’s actions by the Edmonton Oilers.