Since the day Edmonton moved their franchise to Oklahoma City, the minor league team has been producing talent for the big club. The ‘blip’ of last decade,when players were loaned to other organizations, is becoming a distant bell.
The first Oklahoma City Barons team gifted the NHL Jeff Petry, Mark Arcobello and Chris VandeVelde. What will last year’s Bakersfield Condors give the NHL talent pool?
THE 2015-16 BAKERSFIELD CONDORS
- The Condors of 2015-16 employed Anton Slepyshev, Tyler Pitlick and Jujhar Khaira, all of whom should have NHL careers in the coming years. Sometimes a player will surprise after a long period in the minors, but those three names seem obvious.
THE 2016-17 BAKERSFIELD CONDORS
- Eric Rodgers does amazing work on estimating time on ice and NHL equivalencies, they are listed here.
- Eric’s website is here.
- Anton Slepyshev, JujharKhaira and Jesse Puljujarvi are the most likely players to elevate to the NHL this fall. Similar to last year (Pitlick out, Puljujarvi out), offense may be the issue for the Condors forward group.
WHO MOVED ON?
From the forward group who played last season in Bakersfield, many are headed to very different experiences this coming winter.
- Anton Lander. After 215 NHL games, Lander has turned the page and is headed for a feature role with Ak Bars Kazan (KHL). At 26, he is young enough to have another lash at the NHL should the opportunity present itself.
- Jaedon Descheneau. He’s off to the Swiss League (HC Thurgau) after an impressive WHL career and some promise in his one pro NA experience.
- Jere Sallinen. Free-agent signing didn’t deliver as expected, he’s heading for Orebro of Sweden’s top league (SHL).
I don’t think Slepyshev, Puljujarvi or Khaira will see the streets of Bakersfield this year, but there will be a few returnees.
- Josh Currie. He’s on an AHL contract, plays an important role. It is rare for an AHL contract to be purchased by an NHL team (Charles Linglet, Mark Arcobello) but Currie has some talent.
- Joey Laleggia. A strange progression from college defender to pro scoring winger has Laleggia closer to the NHL than ever before. Still a long shot, you never know.
- Joe Gambardella. Just a cup of coffee in Bakersfield after his college career, but he’s an interesting prospect. Gambardella is an excellent forechecker and may be able to refine his skills in the minors.
- Greg Chase. Has an agitating style that should fit the Oilers style, but his first two pro seasons have been a struggle. He may get a long look with Bakersfield in the final year of his entry-level deal.
- Kyle Platzer. Similar to Chase, his pro career has been a disappointment. Came to the Condors with a reputation of being a two-way center, that’s an area of need and we’ll see if he can grab more playing time.
- Patrick Russell. Strange year. College man played in every game and posted 150 shots, should have been good for some impressive boxcars. Instead, he scored only eight goals. We should look for a spike in offense.
- Braden Christoffer. He is 82 games into his AHL career and has only six goals. No matter how much a player brings in terms of grit, energy and checking skills, there has to be a certain amount of offense.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers spent much time in free agency adding players who will spend the winter in Bakersfield. Ty Rattie, Mitch Callahan, Grayson Downing, Brian Ferlin and Brad Malone will occupy prominent roles for the Condors in the 2016-17 season. Each man will make it more difficult for the incumbents to make their way up the depth chart and into the NHL.
Meaning we may be talking about Rattie and Callahan as NHLers from Bakersfield this time next year, instead of Joey Laleggia and Kyle Platzer. Teams with booming minor league systems don’t need to sign journeyman options. That’s a goal for the Oilers down the line. Things are far more interesting on defense, we’ll have a look there next time.