Looking Ahead at the Condors Playoff Drive

Condors

As expected, the sudden wealth in depth in paying off for the Bakersfield Condors.

With five straight wins to their credit, the Condors have passed over San Diego and San Jose in the Western Conference standings and now stand eighth. That’s still a long way off from qualifying for the playoffs, though, as they’d pretty well have to leapfrog another four teams to squeak in. Three of those teams might undergo some significant changes in the coming weeks as their parent clubs wheel and deal for their own playoff hopes at the NHL level.

There are questions those teams ahead of the Condors face much in the same way the Condors themselves have some questions to answer as the NHL trade deadline lingers in two weeks’ time.

With a nod to the TSN 1260 Morning Show, here are three questions regarding the Condors:

What’s to become of the Condors goaltending situation?

This has been an issue for much of the season beginning with the saga of Ben Scrivens’ demotion which resulted in Eetu Laurikainen being loaned to a team in his native Finland. Then Scrivens was traded and Laurikainen returned. Consensus No. 1 goalie and top-rated prospect Laurent Brossoit has been just short of brilliant all season, earning a spot in the AHL All-Star Game, and just last week getting the call to join the Oilers. Of course, ‘LB’ was great in his NHL season debut just as he was a year ago. 

Now it becomes a matter of whether the Oilers want to keep ‘LB’ but potentially only play him a handful of games behind Cam Talbot. If Brossoit stays, then Anders Nilsson, who was sent down to make room, is another heavy burden for the Condors just as Scrivens and Nikita Nikitin have been this season. If Nilsson is kept buried in Bakersfield, then there’s no point having him stagnate the growth of Laurikainen. It’s one thing for the young Finn to learn the ropes behind Brossoit. It’s quite another to have him give up experience in playing time behind Nilsson who will surely be back in the KHL come next season.

Do the Oilers give Tyler Pitlick one last chance?

There would likely have to be some room created in Edmonton for this to happen, perhaps something come Trade Deadline Day. He will get a final opportunity as an Oiler because he’s earned it or he won’t because the Oilers have decided that the breakable winger has run out of chances.

Pitlick’s speed, tenacity, and willingness to get to the net make him a valuable commodity. The problem is no secret, he’s just can’t be relied upon to stay healthy whether it’s a knee or post-concussion symptoms. Yet with the Oilers all but officially out of it, it seems like a reasonable venture to try Pitlick one last time and see if they’ve got anything left to work with or if it’s time for him to find better luck elsewhere.

Who’s going to get late-season call-ups?

From the current roster, the Oilers have seen almost everybody worth seeing already – JJ Khaira, Anton Slepyshev, Nikita Nikitin, Griffin Reinhart, Andrew Miller, Ryan Hamilton, Rob Klinkhammer and Luke Gazdic. 

Some roster spots might become available if the un-playoff bound Oilers clear house to some degree at the end of February. If not, then most of this edition of the Condors will stay where they are. The only other two players who deserve to have a look or two are David Musil and Kale Kessy. 

Musil lacks footspeed, that’s no secret. But he is rugged and a gamer, much more so than Reinhart. He’s got some offence in his game with a heavy shot and a willingness to join the rush when able to do so. Musil has had a cup coffee before and there’s no reason he shouldn’t get a thermos of it by April. 

Kessy’s shot would be a gesture if nothing else, a signal to the rest of the prospects that if you show up every night and go above and beyond when called upon, then you will get a chance. It’s a pamphlet Reinhart and Bogdan Yakimov might want to pick up.

In the nest

Condors forward Andrew Miller will be in the hunt for AHL Player of the Week after putting up nine points in the last four games … The Condors’ five-game winning streak included three in a row on the road at San Diego, Ontario, and San Jose. They’re back in Bakersfield for the remainder of February including this weekend with games against San Diego and Texas … Braden Christoffer and Alexis Loiseau scored for the Norfolk Admirals during games this week but the Oilers’ Double-A affiliate lost to both Reading and Greenville. The Admirals also acquired former Kelowna Rockets defenceman and Texas native Cole Martin in a trade with Atlanta.

  • Himynameistaylor

    If the Condors qualify for the post season, can McDavid be sent down or is that out of the question/ do the timelines not synchronize well enough to make that a possibility?

    • Seanaconda

      Hmmmm I guess technically they could if the chl season was over already. He’s too young to play in the ahl till his chl team is done playing. But they wouldn’t send him down anyways.

    • mrBacon

      Haha, it’s an interesting idea but I think ultimately the risk just too heavily outweighs the reward. We already know the kid is a gem, and playoff experience at that level wouldn’t be worth enough to chance him getting hurt. Technically though, we could once Erie wraps their season up.

  • Seanaconda

    Idk I don’t follow the ohl hahah but normally prospects only get 1 or 2 games in the ahl after their teams done playing so I’m not sure if the schedules line up well. But again they won’t send him down his off season training is more important he’s already getting enough minutes here.plus he will be playing in the canada cup in September so he will have plenty of hockey

  • Seanaconda

    Also he might get picked for the world championship too if that’s still a thing? I’m not exactly sure if they are still playing it with the whole nhl world Cup thing tho

  • XxDJ22xX

    Connor wont be sent down do to AHL rules. He is likely to be chosen for the IIHF canada team anyway. Only players who potentially could be sent down are Nurse (probably will), Klefbom (Last year of waiver exemption i believe. If he returns later in the year they could send him down just to help the team, although he also could be chosen for IIHF for sweden), and Draisaitl, but he probably is chosen for the IIHF as well. Pakarinin is also waiver exempt i believe and could be sent down.

    • Seanaconda

      No chance drai doesn’t make team Germany if they are playing this year. That’s more of a sure thing than mcdavid making team Canada. For the IIHF world championship. Nhl world Cup is less of a sure thing with the whole team Europe deal.

  • Seanaconda

    I am not impressed with Reinhart in the AHL, you would think he might stand out, he does not. He is average and seems non engaged.

    Kale Kessy sure does hustle out there and could bring some energy to the bottom six for sure.

    I’m not sure what the big problem with Nilsson on the farm is?? I think it’s a great opportunity for him to play out his issues right now. He is capable of providing exactly what the Condors need. I still think he is an NHL back up.

    If you are sick of watching the Oilers lose, I recommend watching some Condor games. Lots of hits and fights. Good hockey.

    BTW…they are in a playoff position bud, what teams do they apparently have to jump??

    • mrBacon

      I think the argument isn’t about it being bad for Nilsson, it’s about it being bad for Laurikainen. Goalies especially seem to benefit from playing time, regardless of the level. I personally like Nilsson and would have no problem going into next season with a Talbot/Nilsson 1-2, given attempts are made to shore up the defense, but I’m not a big fan of him curbing potential development of a young guy. Especially to play out his issues for a team that isn’t making the playoffs. Maybe if we were a playoff team like those 2 or 3 sweet days early in the year…..

      Otherwise I completely agree with you.