Condors Midseason Report Card

Condors

The Bakersfield Condors passed the halfway point of their first season as the Oilers’ top affiliate and charter member of the American Hockey League’s Pacific Division with a 5-3 win over the San Jose Barracuda in Monday matinee.

It’s has been a challenging year in many ways, and result-wise, not what the new fans in Bakersfield were expecting although those hopes were based on a high-profile lineup that was laid out in September and mostly gone by early November. That’s what a top farm club, a Triple-A team, does – provide fill-ins and prospects for the big club.

The Condors will be hard-pressed to make the AHL playoffs and follow up on a short yet exciting post-season run in Oklahoma City last spring.

Here’s a mid-season review of how the players have fared: 

GOALIES

Laurent Brossoit – he and Jujhar Khaira are the top-end prospects still in Bakersfield. The netminder has been extremely good and may force the Oil’s hand next season though one more year of seasoning and heavy workload instead of sitting on the bench would be more valuable.

Eetu Laurikainen – left briefly for Finland when there was a three-headed monster between the pipes with Ben Scrivens around. Returned after Scrivens trade and is working his way into long-range future plans.

Ty Rimmer – good story on the comeback from cancer. Worthwhile to look at as a long-term back-up to Eetu if Brossoit gets full-time work in Edmonton.

DEFENCE

Brad Hunt – he’s a big shot and not much else other than experienced. He’s not good in his own zone. This may very well be his last year as a veteran gatekeeper in the organization, and would seem like a nice fit for a team in a wide-open European league.

Griffin Reinhart – not once has he had a game where you’d be convinced he’s ready for consistent NHL work. His lack of dominance at this level is very unnerving. If he doesn’t put something together after the all-star break, more in-depth concerns will immerge.

David Musil – more Clydesdale than thoroughbred, he’ll never be a nifty or quick on his feet but his effort and overall game show that he’s worth a long look at the 2016 training camp. There’s something there – maybe the next Brandon Davidson?

Jordan Oesterle and Dillon Simpson – pretty well mirror images in what they can and can’t do. It’s a shame they aren’t 6-2’’ and 225. Neither does enough of one thing (offence, physicality, etc.) well enough to warrant big consideration.

Nikita Nikitin – at this age, he’s very good at this level and seemingly done at the NHL level. If he was a moderately price veteran a la Hunt, he’d be worth re-signing for his presence. But he’s not and we’ll say goodbye in April.

Martin Gernat – ex-Oil King is done as a prospect, if he ever really was one. Can’t see why he’d be a part of next season’s group.

Ben Betker – got the deserving call from Norfolk last week. Up to him now to show he can stick. Likely ticketed for full-time work in Bakersfield next season.

Nick Pageau – AHL/ECHL tweener did decent job stepping in when needed. Possibility he might get a second contract next fall.

TOP LINE

They do what they do and hold down three of the top-four spots in team scoring.

  • Ryan Hamilton – with his leadership ability and AHL-level skills, he is a keeper for at least another year.
  • Andrew Miller – really just an emergency fill-in for Oilers and has been bypassed by as a prospect. Very good AHL skillset so he should be welcome to return more in a veteran role.
  • Matthew Ford – good shooter though he takes some undisciplined penalties. California-native is apparently eyeing retirement at season’s end.

SECOND LINE

This is a unit that has fluctuated the most during the year due to call-ups and injuries. For the most part it has featured Jujhar Khaira who has vastly improved following a lackluster 2014-15 campaign. He is a future Oiler, and would seem to be a good replacement for underachieving Anton Lander. Others on this line have included:

  • Anton Slepyshev – derailed by injury and put up only four goals in 20 games. How much of that has been an effect of revolving-door linemates and the departure of Bogdan Yakimov? Lots of eyes will be watching to see if he breaks out in the second half of the season.
  • Tyler Pitlick – has been unfortunately snake-bit by injuries again, this time lengthy concussion issues. When he’s suited up, he’s been a force with speed. The question will be do the Oilers want to give him another season or write him off as other healthier prospects need the room.
  • Kyle Platzer – a nice rookie season in the ‘A’ and there’s some indications he could be a valuable minor-leaguer, maybe a future Hamilton/Miller spot-filler with more versatility.
  • Josh Winquist – hampered by a lower-body injury, but when he’s in, he produces. Doubtful he’ll be an impact prospect but he might have worked himself into being a key part of the Triple-A future or raise his profile for some European league paydays.
  • Iiro Pakarinen – only a brief stint in Bakersfield before call-up to Oil and probably won’t be back. 

BOTTOM SIX 

Moroz

A massive mixed-bag of personnel has made up the third and fourth lines throughout the season. With all the injuries and call-ups, it’s been rare to see the same six in the same spots from one game to the next. At one point in the year, the Condors had all six spots occupied by AHL rookies.

  • Mitch Moroz – this season has been about re-inventing and developing. If he can bring that all to the table for 2015-16 then he’s back in the future watch. If he doesn’t, then he will become a case-study of a wasted second-round pick.
  • Kale Kessy – Only Ford, Miller, and Hamilton have more goals. That’s not a great sign for your team as a whole but for the player himself it’s golden, and he hasn’t let anything slip in the way of physical play.
  • Joey LaLeggia – as a defenceman he was pounded by opposing forwards every single game but he has more than enough offensive skills to play, and be better suited, up front. All in all, though, not a prospect who should be counted on to play in Edmonton.
  • Braden Christoffer – junior free-agent has been effective on some nights and rightly a scratch for others. Low production numbers but he’s feisty and combative.
  • Marco Roy – was once a failed draft pick and now a serviceable fill-in. Deservedly staying with top farm team (for now).
  • Alexis Loiseau – did his part in call-up from Norfolk and if there are wholesale departures in off-season, he could fit better in Bakersfield.
  • Phil McRae – succumbed to the nasty Valley Fever and missed two months. Good fit when he’s been in and could fill a role spot next season. 
  • Josh Currie – an ECHL call-up whose penalty-killing abilities, tenacity, and consistency have earned him a right to stay in Bakersfield. He deserves an AHL contract next year.
  • Greg Chase – Missed the boat in training camp as he was expected to be in Triple-A, but was an early send-down to Norfolk. Surpassed on depth chart but a handful of others.

Midpoint Team MVP – Laurent Brossoit

Midpoint Biggest Surprise in a Good Way – Kale Kessy

Midpoint Biggest Disappointment – Griffin Reinhart

From the nest

The Condors got a pair of goals from Rob Klinkhammer in Monday’s win and he now has three including two shorthanded tallies in two games with Bakersfield. Eetu Laurikainen won his second straight between the pipes … It was the second game of a four-game road trip that wraps with tilts on Friday and Saturday in San Antonio. Bakersfield will then play two at home against Manitoba and a take a quick trip to Stockton before the AHL All-Star Game in Syracuse.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    jeez, hardly a glowing report of our talent in the AHL ! not much there for future NHL players by the sound of it and matters were only made worse when the Oilers traded #16 and #33 for what sounds like nothing special in Griffin Reinhart. sounds like a gamble that may not pay off?

    and some of Stu’s off the wall picks also look like they aren’t going to pan out for us like LaLeggia and Moroz, who looks like he’s been passed by Kessy? on the plus side, two good picks by Stu and his staff, Khaira and Slepyshev likely have a future here as bottom 2 line players with size and speed.

    this is how bad the Old Boys Club left this team and it’s organization in….we still need to figure out how to win at the NHL level after 6 years!! of rebuilding and we have more or less a bare cupboard in the AHL, while trading a few high picks to try to win now in the NHL, we have been hurting our AHL team with a lack of good prospects for the Oilers future. thanks a lot Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish!!

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Wow. What a report card. Someone took the wrong Drafting 101 course. He could draw a really straight line with his ruler but couldn’t find a prospect in a square full of them.

  • dougtheslug

    The trade for Reinhart, without him being carefully scouted and based on memories of him in junior from two years previous, should be a fireable offence.

    Even I know that defenceman can dominate in junior based on size, but if they don’t show a development curve year over year ( like a Brandon Davidson for example) they are suspect, not prospect, as the Islanders clearly were aware, laughing all the way to the bank with a first and second round pick.

    Such incompetance! So frustrating!

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      it was at Bob Green’s suggestion was it not? i am surprised that he would recommend a trade like that from just a memory from him as a junior? not an offense to be fired for though because though Green didn’t appear to do his due diligence, and that’s what this organization has been trying to get away from with Stu and his amateur staff and Morey Gare and his pro scouting staff, the lazy scouting, Chia is ultimately to blame for giving the go ahead to the deal. Chia needs to do his due diligence and make sure not to do a deal like this again !!

    • Spiel

      Check out Barzal’s assist from the game last night (Jan.19th vs Saskatoon). He banks the puck off the back of the net to create space and feeds a perfect pass to the slot. Filthy.
      No doubt the Islanders won that trade.

      • fran huckzky

        You base your scouting report on seeing one play. I believe you may have long term career possibilities as a scout. Please send your resume to Calgary Flames c/o Saddledome Calgary Alberta

        • Spiel

          Not just one play. Barzal has had a great season, and nice career so far in junior.

          Prospect guru Corey Pronman at ESPN has Barzal ranked as the #6 NHL prospect in his latest list.
          This was rankings composed of players currently signed with an NHL team who are outside of the NHL (Less than 25 NHL games in 2015-16, less than 50 NHL games in their career and not currently on an NHL roster).

          This doesn’t even account for the other pick acquired by the Islanders in the trade that they packaged up to get Beauvillier who is ranked 26th on the most recent list.

          Searched, but could find no mention of Reinhart on the list. He was #56 in the top 100 released in the summer.

  • S cottV

    Geez Scott – tell it like it is.

    Well done and refreshing to say the least.

    Better find other ways to get inside information, because the players aren’t gonna talk to you anymore…

  • dougtheslug

    Oilers management had a crush on Oil Kings Reinhart, they didn’t see what any fan could see was below average skater and no offence in the AHL.

    These so called professionals trade away essentially two 1st rd picks because of a strong draft.

    They mask this horrible move by getting McDavid.

    Shocking people get paid to do this job.

    NYI are laughing at the Oilers we fleeced them. Guess that is why Oilers have been the worst team in the NHL for the last 10 yrs.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      I would take the best we can get right now.. which would likely be a 4th round pick for Rienhart.

      He is going to be Colton Tuebert if not worse.

      Can’t imagine what Chia was thinking…. Filitov, a 6th overall pick who had more upside than Reinhart was eventually dealt under similar circumstances to Ottawa for a 2nd round pick…. Oilers dearly overpaid here.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    I guess the questions to ask are:
    (1) Did Peter Chiarelli target Griffin Reinhart, or was it one of his guys (Bob Green, MacT, Lowe, etc.) that recommended trading for him?
    (2) If it was one of his guys, is Chia still listening to them?

    The same should also be asked for other strange decisions made in the past several months: not buying out Ference, not buying out Nikitin, sending Leon down to the AHL at the start of this year, etc.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I’ve been noticing that Nurse has been struggling at the NHL. He could have used more time in the AHL.

    Why don’t they call Reinhart up instead? Now we finally see why.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Seems like many more down arrows than up arrows. Our best players on the farm still seem to be mostly AHL veterans. The organization has talked about changing this for years but that takes success at the draft table and a willingness to follow-through on giving more ice time to prospects, even if it means fewer wins along the way.

  • Spiel

    Reinhart is a bust Oilers know it , they are just trying to package it nicely so fans will believe there is hope for him.

    I’m sure in the back room there is a lot of swearing at the person/persons who pushed this deal.

    Say McDavid a few times and you forget. That is the formula.

    Imagine if Oilers never won the lottery in the last few years. They would easily be the worst team in the NHL.

    • Truth

      Can’t blame the player for a dumb management decision. He is the same player he was when he was traded, which is definitely not worth a 1st and early 2nd round pick. If the Oilers acquired him by trading only a 4th round pick would he all of a sudden become a possible steal?