The Second Opinion

Todd Nelson

One of the interesting complications to the Edmonton Oilers’ decision to dismiss Dallas Eakins and promote Todd Nelson is that the new coach brings with him a firm understanding of what’s happening in Oklahoma City, a firmer understanding than probably anyone else in the organization.

The general manager sets the roster of the team, but the head coach has the power to influence those decisions and it’s going to be awfully hard to tell Nelson that he can’t have Player X from the farm if he thinks Player X will help the situation. Which players currently on the farm might benefit from that?

The Options: Forward

Anton Lander

The Barons’ roster isn’t likely to be the solution for the Oilers’ woes, but there are some interesting players who might play a role in Edmonton in the near future. Notable individuals currently in Oklahoma include the following:

  • C Anton Lander – The Oilers are crying for a centre, and despite repeated NHL failings Lander has done it all at the AHL level. Presumably if anyone is going to get him playing the way he needs to in the majors, it’s the guy who got his offensive game going in the minors.
  • LW/RW Iiro Pakarinen – A big, trigger-happy winger with a range of abilities, Pakarinen had a five-game cameo and an NHL goal earlier this year and must be considered one of the strongest minor-league recall possibilities.
  • LW Curtis Hamilton – One of those big forwards from the 2010 Draft, Hamilton hasn’t developed as hoped but he’s big and plays a defensive game and with 13 points through 23 contests is having his most successful AHL season offensively. Importantly, only one of those 13 points came on the power play, so the numbers probably undersell his work five-on-five so far.
  • LW Ryan Hamilton – The 29-year-old ‘tweener brings size and experience; he couldn’t stick with the team a year ago in an injury-plagued campaign but he is scoring a goal every other game. Of course, half of that scoring is power play generated.
  • C Jason Williams – The 34-year-old offensive centre is on an AHL contract and his career appeared to be fading fast when the Oilers added him this season. Of note, he has 26 points in 23 games, but it’s still a longshot that he appears on the major-league roster at some point.

    First-year professionals like Bogdan Yakimov (no goals since October), Jujhar Kharia (no points in a month) and Mitch Moroz (one assist in 20 career AHL games) are scoring at such an anemic pace that it’s hard to imagine any of them being in the conversation at this point.

The Options: Defence and Goaltending


The strength of the Barons’ roster appears to be on defence, though a lot of that strength comes from the department of youth:

  • LD Martin Marincin – Nelson has coached Marincin for 124 games now, and has a unique vantage point on the young man who he made a top-pairing player as an AHL rookie in 2012-13. It wouldn’t be surprising if he takes on look at the left side of the NHL defence and asks for Marincin; if he doesn’t it will be perhaps the most significant indicator to date that all is not well with the Slovak’s development.
  • RD/LD David Musil – Musil isn’t a popular man with a fanbase that dreams of Boone Jenner, but he did make an impression last year on the farm. The question as always is footspeed; otherwise he’s big enough and smart enough to play NHL hockey.
  • LD Jordan Oesterle – The somewhat undersized college defender made an impression in training camp and is second on the Barons’ blue line (behind Brad Hunt) in scoring. He’s 22 but a rookie pro.
  • LD/RD Dillon Simpson – The rookie defenceman’s numbers aren’t very impressive (two points, minus-seven) but as always it’s impossible to just look at the numbers and divine how a defenceman is performing. Simpson remains a prospect to watch though a recall this year seems improbable.
  • G Laurent Brossoit – Brossoit has pushed veteran Richard Bachman for playing time in Oklahoma City and as of this writing boasts an impressive 0.917 save percentage. Stranger things have happened and the Scrivens/Fasth duo in Edmonton doesn’t seem all that formidable at the moment.
  • G Richard Bachman – The nominal third-stringer looked good in a call-up last season but has been middle of the road as a starter over his Barons career.

Who Do We See?


Depending on what happens the rest of the way, we’re likely to see a lot of these players in Edmonton as injuries and trades reduce the roster of a team that’s miles from contending. 

In the short term, Lander and Marincin are the guys with the most potential to have an impact on the team. Both are established minor-league talents, both inhabit positions of extreme weakness in the organization and both have a long history with Todd Nelson. Marincin has showed well in flashes in the NHL, while Lander at this moment is a “AAAA” player, too good for the minors but seemingly incapable of making the jump to the majors.

If they are recalled, it will tell us that Nelson thinks they have more to offer than we’ve seen lately. If they aren’t recalled, that will tell us something too. 



    ‘The ONE , who is consitently throughout demise…..
    …remember, bizarre ‘seinfeld” press conference on the golf course,in the ONE’S 2nd year, when he announced “he would do the right thing” after coitus ‘accident”. Having grown up TIER 1 ( family -owned the dairy in Lachute) , blue-collar ‘HONOUR” , “INTEGRITY” , “SHAME” never had to be instilled ——-restaurant failures, nightclub closures, SUGAR -DADDY, always around.

  • Oiler Fan 16

    NOOOOOO! Please stay and share with me the virtues of playing hockey without physical contact with the other team.
    Come to think of it, we might go on a huge run now with no Oilers in danger of getting the mumps…

  • MorningOwl

    Yes, it is painful now, but when the rebuild is done and the Oil are in the playoffs for the foreseeable future, everyone will be so overjoyed that they will look back to these tough middle years of the rebuild and realize it was all worth it!

    Viva le 2020!

  • MorningOwl

    Eakins may have had a promising career destroyed in Edmonton. You have to feel for the guy. sure, he walks away with his full contract value, but that is nothing compared to the damages suffered.

    • vetinari

      Don’t feel too bad for him. As long as Lowe is here, he likes to rehire old friends (see: Howson and MacTavish) and Eakins will probably be rehired as our new director scouting within a year or two.

      *cries in the bathtub while clutching the shower curtain “can’t get clean… can’t get clean… blood on MacT’s hands”

  • A-Mc

    My original post quoted stats from 2 different seasons. My mistake! in 2012-13 season the OKC Barons were 18-12-4 with the Oilers core and were 22-13-7 without. Originally the stats were more lopsided so it was something i found interesting, but its something i was looking at incorrectly.

    Sorry about that!

    • vetinari

      Hmmm. I remember that stretch when the NHL resumed and the core was recalled to the Oilers. However, Krueger at least put together a somewhat better point per game average than Eakins in the 48 games that he had.

      I just hope that management keeps its nose out of game lineup decisions and supports Nelson if he benches guys for underperforming or making too many repeated mistakes.

      • A-Mc

        Oh bugger you know what, I think i messed that up. Shoooooot.

        Well so much for that idea. I was looking at October 2013 not october 2012.

        Thanks for catching that.

        18-12-4 with the Oilers core; 22-13-7 Without. This is fairly consistent and doesnt illustrate the point i originally thought i had discovered

  • SSB1963

    “, but the head coach has the power to influence those (roster) decisions”

    Not according to MacT. When he was head coach he had nothing to do with personnel decisions. Are you calling him a liar?

  • Jordan88

    When there is no gas in the tank, it makes no difference how well the coach knows a bottomless pit.

    The problem is the New interim coach Mac T and his trusty side kick Lowe.

  • james_dean

    The roster of a team thats miles away from contending;

    “Can you pour me another scotch Kevin?”

    “I also need another Daryl.”

    “Mm thats good 20 year old, lets give Simpson a callup.”

  • Deported to Ottawa

    Unfortunately the firing of Eakins is a case of to little, to late.

    Hopefully Dallas gets a job elsewhere. I don’t think he was ready for the NHL but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a batter coach with more experience.

    After nine years of missing the playoffs and numerous years of top draft picks the Oilers have shown no progress whatsoever. Based on the lack of results it’s pretty clear that current management needs to be replaced and the current roster doesn’t feature players that are part of the solution.

    Currently the Oilers are at ground zero of the rebuilding process. They have a few potentially good defencemen in the pipeline and a few players with adequate skills but seem to be missing the required work ethic.

    As a result no one on this team should be untouchable.

    Drai needs to be sent to junior before the Oiler experience ruins him. Let the young man continue his development, physical maturation process and regain his confidence. It’s clear to everyone playing with the Oilers is not helping.

    Eberle, Hall, RNH, Yakupov simply haven’t developed as quickly as would be hoped. At this point the collection of players is disappointing when you consider how many games were lost for the right to select them. Are any of them desired outside of the Oilers organization? If do is there any hope of a reasonable return for them? I suspect not.

    Face it fellow fans. The years of suffering have all been for nothing because the Oilers are no closer to being a good hockey club than they were when the rebuild commenced. In fact, they might just be worse.