OKC RE Revisited

One of the themes this blog has undertaken is tracking and projecting young players. The “first year pro” is often the most interesting, since most of the new pro’s play in leagues we have lots of history to draw information from to compare performance. I always like to do a “reasonable expectations” post on the AHL team because it’s important to take all of the bias out of things and agree on the line in the sand.


  • Tyler Pitlick RE: Rugged winger with some skill, I think he’ll resemble Hamilton in starting slow and then moving up the depth chart. Pitlick may be tougher to track, as I’m not certain he’ll get a lot of PP time. With McDonald gone, Pitlick might have a shot at being that 2-way forward with the big shot who eventually rises to the top line. Unlikely for this season, though. RE would be 12-15 goals, most at even strength. UPDATE: 35, 4-6-10 with two of his goals coming on the PP. Offensive output is off from expectations and he’s missed 9 games. As I mentioned yesterday it’s difficult to compare his rookie season to the past because the Oilers appear to be handling these new hires differently. The team overall is more reliant on AHL veterans and older prospects (than in the past) and I’m not quite sure how to handicap the loss of playing time. Having said all of that, I don’t think you can describe his first half as anything but disappointing. Coach Nelson is strong on him, saying his play away from the puck has improved and his physical style is evident every game. When you’re talking about tougher wingers who could possibly play with the really skilled guys, Pitlick may be a candidate. The question of course is will he hit enough to be in the heart of the order.
  • Curtis Hamilton RE: It might take some time for him to adjust to the AHL, but I think Hamilton will be somewhat similar Hartikainen as an AHL rookie (although he may not get the PP time). Should he spend the entire season in the minors, I think 20 goals is a reasonable number. UPDATE: 34, 4-5-9 +1 and marching in lock step with Pitlick offensively. Coach Nelson has used him quite a bit on the PK and it would appear he’ll play this season (and possibly beyond) as a role player in OKC.
  • Teemu Hartikainen RE: This is a prospect ready for graduation but pushed back by guaranteed contracts. Not the worst problem in the world and I think he could force his way back to the NHL will a strong showing. If he stays all year in the minors, 25 goals is a reasonable expectation. UPDATE: 30, 10-10-20 -2 and on track for that 25 goal season if he’d played all 80 games. Coach Nelson suggested (without naming names) that there are times when a young player has a tough time of it when getting sent down and that appears to have had an impact on the big Finn. Having said that he’s right on track, save for a flagging performance in his most recent callup.

Oilers have changed their development timeline for these three players and others.  I guess Hartikainen is probably the first player to go through this way, where his entry level deal will end up being a long audition for the NHL spent (for the most part) in the AHL. It might be an idea to do the same thing with Magnus Paajarvi for the rest of this season and next.

NationRadio hits the airwaves today at Noon Edmonton time on Team 1260. You can email comments and questions for our guests to nationradio@theteam1260.com or post them in the comments section on the blog. I’m also @lowetide_ on twitter. Scheduled to appear:

  • Terry Jones, HOF writer for the Edmonton Sun.  He’s following the Barons this week and I’ll ask him about the prospects, the suspects and the fact that this OKC team might be among the best minor league clubs (in terms of wins and losses) in the Oilers history.
  • Jason Gregor, host of the popular Jason Gregor Show on Team 1260. We’ll talk trade deadline, prospect progress and what he expects from the Oilers in the season’s final 30 games.
  • Dennis King of Dennis King scoring chances and mc79 hockey. Dennis will talk about Paajarvi’s lack of progress (Dennis worried from the start about his offense), the trade of Ales Hemsky and touch base on what this team needs for next season.
  • Jim Byers from OKC Barons. Jim is the play-by-play announcer and an astute resource for all of these Oiler prospects. I’ll ask him about Phil Cornet and his season, plus some of the “under the radar” types like Hunter Tremblay and Tanner House.
  • Dennis Murphy, co-founder of the WHA and therefore a major reason for big league hockey in Edmonton. We’ll talk about the rebel league, the importance of Bobby Hull and the larger than life figure that was Bill Hunter.

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55 Responses to "OKC RE Revisited"

  1. Lowetide says:

    I thought I would share this with you, new info I’ve never had access to previously. We moved over on January 12, which is about 2 weeks ago. Since then, the site has received 17,725 unique visitors and over 75,000 visits. 64,000 are from Canada, 6,000 from USA and about 1,000 from the UK.

    Other locations include Australia, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Taiwain, Norway, Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy, Japan. 73 countries in all. Very cool.

  2. Lowetide says:

    That’s on track with the old blog btw, meaning pretty much everyone has come over. On the old blog, in the 16 days before converting, there were 151,384 pageviews. I’ve had 166,838 since coming over (so slightly ahead at the new site).

  3. FastOil says:

    Congrats LT. I am not surprised everyone came, you are a fine writer and have created a blog that stands out. I appreciate your patience and class. Things can be a liitle more rough elsewhere.

    I agree with your take on Pajaarvi. To my way of thinking a player should stay there until he is dominant over a good run, as in a whole season. I think it would lead to more development if players knew that was the case, they would really want to focus on their weaknesses. We have seen a lot of players show well for a bit down there and drown once up.

  4. spoiler says:

    I would pepper Dennis with a steady diet of questions about the Habs.

    20 goals for Hamilton, a passer not a shooter? I said that number was unreasonable at the time and I stick by it. He looks like he might be a Radek Dvorak type though… Solid two way winger-forechecker-pker.

  5. Lowetide says:


    Yeah, that’s fair. However, I was basing the estimate on the Oilers age old tradition of placing their best prospects on a skill line and feeding them PP minutes. I bet a 2-4 that’s part of the reason this team is performing so well.

    I give Nelson credit, though. He was frank about the kids when I talked to him and clear about what they needed to work on.

    As for Dennis, I’d be too afraid he might bring out his special pronounciation of Montreal. :-)

  6. Chris Hext---formerly EasyOil--- says:


    I’m pretty sure that at least 10% of those UK page views are from me LT. Maybe more. Seriously. Yours is always the first of the blogs I visit everyday, your readership is much deserved so keep it up. Any idea how many listeners the ON show gets? (including podcast downloads)

  7. spoiler says:

    I think even if they had given Hamilton the PP time 20 goals would’ve been a bit much. He’s not a. finisher although he will get his fair share of bang in goals from rebounds. He wasn’t the finisher. At the Jr level and I think to expect such is round-holing a square peg.

    But his +/- has always been strong, he’s great along the walls, and he’s always had a good. Assist number… To my eye this is the kind of player that forechecks, digs out pucks and makes great centering passes. Winning puck battles is key to his game, so it’s nice to hear he’s improving in. That respect. IMHO, he’s meeting RE.

    It’s also nice to hear that the kids aren’t being gifted PP time… That’s a step in the right direction, closer to the Detroit philosophy.

    I think it would be hilarious to hear Dennis either struggling to restrain himself or a constant stream of “BEEPtreals”. The station manager would likely not agree though.

  8. spoiler says:

    These random periods drive. Me nuts.

  9. stevezie says:

    Happy to help out on the Sweden end of things. I wonder if Byers think the Barons miss Brule at all? There’s always a lot of give and take between a far and a big, but that’s one pretty good player (in the AHL at least) who is just gone. Who profits from that?

  10. DeadmanWaking says:

    Here are two recent ditties by Terry Jones. To locate the second I searched on “Terry Jones Maricin” with my fingers skipping an N. Google suggests “Terry Jones moron”. Bad Google, bad—though I have to confess, accomplishments aside, TJ is not my favourite writer in the present tense.

    OKC: From worst to first
    Oilers plan to grow own success

    In the second piece, an unusually detailed look under the procurement hood for a Jones piece, he throws this quote out without providing quite enough context:

    “We found two ladies in Prince George, Teresa and Linda, and they made some real good gains. We went to his billet with a nutritional program we felt he needed. They were wonderful. We met with his junior coach and set up a strength and conditioning program he needed,” said Moores of the player recently traded to Regina.

    Normally I’m cool about the passage of time and all that it implies, but TJ finds a way to make me wince. It’s all there. Almost. The years or the pints or hypoxic cabin conditions have taken a toll on his mainspring. His last device, tacking on “of the player recently traded to Regina” is so journalistic in style it makes me giggle. Yeah, they used to teach that. It’s the compositional equivalent to one of those old games in the seventies where the objective is for each player to add yet another bobble to some tiply-toply house of wires and dominoes, until the whole edifice goes capice, and the clumsy chump responsible swims with the fishes. I mean, he’s not interviewing The Walrus here and footnoting pertly “he said of cabbages and kings”. (Someday if the worst comes to pass with my own cognitive decline I’ll compose a dialog between Yoda and The Walrus. There’s some demented fun to be had there.)

    I always like to visit the Game Grades where mostly Bruce presides. On the whole it achieves a fairly level effect considering how often the judges pass the baton. I detect small differences in the win/loss bias (how much the game outcome bleeds into player assessments) and the psychology of punitive/positive adjustment when a player’s performance falls in the gradation cracks, or triangulates inconsistently, necessitating an extra plea to discretion.

    One thing, though, that stands out quite strongly is a difference in the tone of Bruce’s writing from all of the rest. You can’t point to anything as lacking in subtlety as a prepositional phrase tagged on because “it goes there” as I once heard a person defend an adventuresome sex life (he appends gratuitously). What makes Bruce different is something subtle about tone.

    Then one morning suddenly the penny dropped: it’s the same with Roger Ebert’s movie reviews. Ebert’s subtle command of tone is not to be underestimated. We’re entering into the territory of “things you can’t teach”; chapters not found tacked onto the end of Teaching the Slow Learner.

    The problem with TJ at this point is that he no longer seems to know the difference between himself and his horse. He ambles to the stable, selects his steed for the day, stretches his leg up to the stirrup as he’s done so many times before (now much higher than it used to be), and hops aboard. Once aboard, he commands all the same fancy moves he ever did, on the horse he’s riding. On the horse he is the horse and it’s all there. Whatever that horse exactly is.

    Hockey has changed a lot over three decades, and I think so has journalism. It used to be a writer had his horses: the Magic Flute horse, the Calgary Stampeder’s horse, the Jutlands brewery horse, and for sports journalists especially, the glue factory horse, creaking damnation from a rope in the rafters upon the listless and forlorn morning-after bag skate. Each horse was a distinct performance, like choosing a key or a style to begin a melody. Many are the talented musicians who dissolve into their style of the moment, destined to approximate greatness.

    ………. | Masculine Feminine
    Singular | Elvis Elvira
    Plural | Elvii Elviras

    To go to the far opposite extreme, you have Pablo Picasso. He rode many horses, in each case so uniquely and with such personal flair, that never the horse mattered one whit. Every Picasso is exactly Picasso, brew-horse or Magic Flute.

    Old Lowetide, new Lowetide, makes no difference to me.

  11. Woodguy says:

    Good Morning LT,

    Can you ask Jones what made him decide to spend a week covering an AHL team?

    Like Tyler mentions in his post, its interesting that a journalist who covers Olympics, World Championships, Stanley Cups, Super Bowls etc, usually doesn’t spend a week covering a lesser league.

    Like other who complain about v3.2, I’ve always given him his due for creating an actual development program. It was long overdue. However I don’t think it should be a cornerstone reason for keeping him employed as a NHL GM.

    His body of work at the NHL level is poor and that is what should determine his future employment.

    The whole Jones series of articles looks like Kevin Lowe begging for good news to point to when he re-news Tambellini’s contract.


  12. DeadmanWaking says:

    Lack of preview messed up my little table. WTF is “code” markup for if it vaporizes white space? After missing a couple of cross-crease passes, I slammed in the dots and vertical bars with one second left on the game clock.

  13. Lowetide says:


    WG: Sorry, I pre-recorded the interview and didn’t see your question. I would think it was due to the All-Star break, but it appears Tyler and others believe something else.

  14. Woodguy says:


    WG: Sorry, I pre-recorded the interview and didn’t see your question. I would think it was due to the All-Star break, but it appears Tyler and others believe something else.

    No worries LT.

    Given that this is Jones’ 30th or so All Star break and this is the first time he’s gone in depth about the farm (as far I know), there might be something to it.

  15. Woodguy says:

    It sounded like Jones has become an Oiler True Believer now that he has seen their development program up close.

    Its good that the Oilers have a development system, but its not like they have re-invented the wheel, but rather caught up to where most other teams have been for decades.

    When they take the developmental system from horrible to average/adequate, it’s hardly a reason to break out the party hats.

    I’ll give Lowe a pass on that during the EIG years as money was super tight for most of them, but since Katz took over there’s no excuse other than incompetence/lack of knowledge.

    When Lowe became GM it was directly from being Head Coach. He had no experience working in management in a good organization. It was a poor hire by the EIG as you’d hope for some experience in your key hockey person other than 6 rings. (6!!) Perhaps he just didn’t know how important a development system was, even when he had Katz’s bank account to use.

    So Jones pointing at the creation of a something most organizations have had for decades as a reason to believe in Tambellini/Lowe while he still has reservations about their performance at acquiring NHL level talent, rings hollow.

    Perhaps covering only the Oilers for 30 years and not seeing the professionalism of a lot of NHL organizations hasn’t given Jones the experience to really judge Tambellini and Lowe.

    Either way, going from horrible to respectable in player development and going from horrible to horrible (outside of 1st round picks) at the NHL level is no where near a pass.

  16. Lowetide says:

    The frustration for me is that a guy like Marc Pouliot walks out the door and NOW they are doing this stuff. I’m all for any improvement and maybe this was about money (Sillinger, Serdachny, etc) but Pouliot should have made the grade imo.

  17. "Steve Smith" says:

    LT, you are to Pouliot exactly the opposite of what Traktor is to Horcoff.

    (And Pouliot, actually.)

  18. Lowetide says:

    SS: I’m very loyal. :-)

  19. lazerguidedmelody says:

    Off topic, but I see that The Toronto Sun have Burke fishing for a top 6 forward, and may be willing to part with Luke Schenn. Can’t see Burke being that batshit crazy to pull the trigger, but the prospect of Hemsky + would be a deal I’d make in a heartbeat.

  20. TheOtherJohn says:

    Let’s see if I get this right: Oilers sign a bunch of career minor leaguers (or soon to be career minor leaguers, see Alex Plante) , play them in preference to their prospects and the suggestion is that the successful OKC record is a sign of developmental progress?

    Isn’t it really evidence that we signed a real solid roster of AHL players?

    But they did renovate the OKC arena: kudos Steve!

    Kinda sad to see the Sun/Jones junket to OKC to trumpet that we have a winning AHL team but that the teams success has little or nothing to do with the Oiler prospects. Would love to see a week long series of articles examining recent trades by the Oilers; why we had no back up plan if Whitney could not play 65 games this year? Etc. Although the weather in OKC is better than in Edmonton and they do win the odd game

  21. Lowetide says:

    I’m shocked at how quickly people are writing off Hartikainen and Omark. AND half a season into Pitlick/Hamilton’s pro careers they are np’s? Come on, guys. This isn’t reasonable, this is framing an issue.

  22. Traktor says:

    Let’s see if I get this right: Oilers sign a bunch of career minor leaguers (or soon to be career minor leaguers, see Alex Plante) ,

    Plante is 22 and was named to the AHL allstar game.

    When Tom Gilbert was 22 he put up 17 points in 41 games in the NCAA and still needed another year in college before he would turn pro.

    Pretty early to be writing Plante off as a career minor league player imo.

  23. godot10 says:

    OKC has kept rocking and rolling, often with three tryout defensemen in the lineup, because of all the call ups and injuries, and without Hartikainen and Omark for extended period of time.

  24. TheOtherJohn says:


    Not writing those 4 off, at all. God I pray they become real players. Because if one or two of them aren’t real contributors, the rebuild will take 10 years.

    Nelson could not be clearer. They are playing less than 14 minutes a game and only some PP. That is definitely a way to develop. But saying we are winning in OKC as if that is tied to draft picks is a real stretch. Helmer, Plante etc may help you win the AHL those guys are not going to play 200 games for the Oil

  25. Traktor says:

    Over 80 games Plante is on pace for 33 points, 184 PIMS, +38

    Plante season 1: -17 over 80 games
    Plante season 2: +12 over 80 games
    Plante season 3: +38 over 80 games

    Plante PPG season 1: 14 points over 80 games
    Plante PPG season 2: 18 points over 80 games
    Plante PPG season 3: 33 points over 80 games

    Seems like he is getting better every year.

  26. TheOtherJohn says:


    If you think Alex Plante and Tom Gilbert are similar players in any way, at any comparative age, we agree to disagree. One of those two makes Strudwick look quick and it is not 77

  27. "Steve Smith" says:

    I’m shocked at how quickly people are writing off Hartikainen and Omark.

    To say nothing of Pouliot!

  28. Traktor says:


    If you think Alex Plante and Tom Gilbert are similar players in any way, at any comparative age, we agree to disagree. One of those two makes Strudwick look quick and it is not 77

    I doubt anyone here thought Gilbert was a player when he was 22. Congrats on missing the point though.

  29. Woodguy says:

    Bob McCown broke the story on that Crosby has “problems” in his C1 and C2 vertebrae.

    Sportsnet story here.

    It was missed by the Pens doctors.

    No comment from the Pens yet.


    Good point on Plante. I’m in the camp that has written him off as a NHL player, but there is lots of time for him to continue to develop.

    He just looks so damn slow in the NHL.

  30. Lowetide says:

    “Steve Smith”: To say nothing of Pouliot!

    Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. Touche. :-)

  31. Lowetide says:

    I wondered where the Mandelbaums went after Edmonton.

  32. ASkoreyko says:

    I don’t understand the judgement of Plante already, the guy is 22 and improving every season (as Traktor has pointed out). It is not Plante’s fault he was picked as high as he was by the organization and he was labeled a project from day 1.

    What is the timeline people are thinking is appropriate for a ‘project’ dman? 2-3 years? Seems a little short-sighted to me. I really see Plante projecting as a John Erskine type player. Bottom pairing guy that you can move in and out of the line-up and will be a physical force that every team needs to win. Sure he has foot-speed issues, but all prospects have something they need to overcome to be a NHL regular.

    As long as Plante keeps showing progression I see no reason to be down on him at all.

  33. Lowetide says:

    I think the problem for Plante is footspeed. Jim Byers told me today he’s slimmed down and quicker this season and he did make the All-star team, but ther other problem is a year from now he’ll be waiver eligible. Now, that may not be a big deal but hell Taylor Chorney got plucked so you never know.

  34. Jordan says:

    “Steve Smith”: To say nothing of Pouliot!

    I hear that Alan Mitchell guy wrote off Pouliot publicly once, here in the comments section.

    LT not only managed to get all traces of the comment erased from the blog, but he also managed to completely remove all of Mitchell’s access to any blog on the internet. Ever.

    He also stole Mitchell’s identity and usurped his life, all while creating a false identity for him as his indentured slave.

    He hacked the U.S. Government mind control ray over the magnetic north pole to erase all our memories of the comment ever having exis….

    What was I talking about again?

  35. "Steve Smith" says:

    JordanWhat was I talking about again?

    I couldn’t say for sure, but you were certainly saying nothing of Pouliot.

  36. ashley says:

    Chris Hext—formerly EasyOil—: Yours is always the first of the blogs I visit everyday

    There are other Oiler blogs?

  37. Woodguy says:

    A quick look at PHX TOI, and Brule may have eaten Poo’s lunch.

    Mind you, doesn’t look like Brule’s been playing C, while Poo has some faceoffs.

    Brule’s TOI/gm passed Pouliot fairly soon after he joined them.

    Poo was HS in the last game before the break.

    Brule has 3g 1a 4pts +1 in 7 games since joining PHX.

    Good for him, hope he can figure out how to have a career in the NHL.

    In 9 games Poo is 0g 2a -3.

  38. Lowetide says:

    Fast start, big whoop. My guy is built for distances.

  39. Woodguy says:

    PIT statement on Crosby (from penguins.nhl.com):

    Pittsburgh Penguins Statement on Sidney Crosby
    Saturday, 01.28.2012 / 7:43 PM / News

    The diagnosis of Dr. Robert S. Bray, a neurological spine specialist based in Los Angeles, is that Sidney Crosby had suffered a neck injury in addition to a concussion. Dr. Bray reports that the neck injury is fully healed. Those findings will be evaluated by independent specialists over the next few days. The most important goal all along has been Sidney’s return to full health, and we are encouraged that progress continues to be made.

  40. Woodguy says:

    Fast start, big whoop. My guy is built for distances.


    I hope Poo finds a way to get a career as well. Not sure he’s doing it yet.

  41. Lowetide says:

    I just need him to get to 200 games. After that, he’s a successful Oilers draft pick. You could look it up!

    As an aside, Jordan Eberle should be featured more. Scott Hartnell gets camera time while our guy chases pucks.

  42. LMHF#1 says:

    Watching the skills comp and they’re doing the SO challenge. It is amazing how bad some of these stars are at making a decent move/shot. Almost as though they need the game situation rather than all the time in the world.

  43. Smarmy says:

    Is there a reason Eberle hasn’t done anything in the competition. I’m watching second rate flyer and sen rookies doing stuff.

  44. DSF says:

    I just need him to get to 200 games. After that, he’s a successful Oilers draft pick. You could look it up!

    As an aside, Jordan Eberle should be featured more. Scott Hartnell gets camera time while our guy chases pucks.

    Ahhhh….the Semenov Rule.

  45. Lowetide says:

    He’s still getting 2 assists a year in St. Petersburg buster!

  46. DSF says:

    Something for Pouliot to look forward to when he hits his prime. :)

  47. DSF says:

    Barons win 3-1.

    Paajarvi – 0G 0A 0P Shots: 3


    12GP 1G 8A 9P
    Shots: 31
    Shooting% 3.2

  48. oilersfan says:

    With all my own dreaming about getting Grigorenko, LT woke me up as I saw the long list of players Carolina will be trading away. I think the OIlers will be hard pressed to finish lower than 28th. So I think I can live with Ryan “Scott Niedermayer/Brian Leetch” Murray at number 3. Number 4 for me will be Alex Galchenyuk. A new write up today from Dobber Hockey for those interested:


    Oh and DSF go piss off I am already pissed at MP. Looking like a third liner more and more. Not sure why the scouts had him ranked so high with no apparent high end offensive skill. Probably still better than Scott Glennie but how he got picked ahead of Ellis, Rundblad or Kulikov I have no idea.

  49. Ducey says:

    Barons win 3-1.

    Paajarvi – 0G 0A 0P Shots: 3


    12GP 1G 8A 9P
    Shots: 31
    Shooting% 3.2

    The box score now says five shots for MPS

  50. DSF says:

    Shooting percentage down to 3.0

  51. Lowetide says:

    Well, he and Cornet can graduate to the mean together.

  52. Yeti says:


    And India now!

  53. knighttown says:

    Traktor: Plante is 22 and was named to the AHL allstar game.

    When Tom Gilbert was 22 he put up 17 points in 41 games in the NCAA and still needed another year in college before he would turn pro.

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t get past the skating. Plus 11 in the AHL could very easily be the result of playing easy comp on a terrific team. In a world of unknowns you’ve got to make some assumptions and mine is simply this. Anyone who skates like Alex Plante cannot be a solid Top 6 defensemen in the NHL.

    There are other characteristics that you put in his “pros” box but it’s like a cornerback running a 5 second 40…it’s a fatal flaw.

    Pretty early to be writing Plante off as a career minor league player imo.

  54. knighttown says:

    Sorry…that quote of Trak’s was not all his. My message is in the middle of his quote. Christ SS, help me out here, I can’t afford another libel suit (or is it slander?)

  55. Hack says:

    As much as Reinhart and Murray seem like good bets for the Oil, I was intrigued by a profile I was reading on Brendan Gaunce who is slotted in the top ten picks by some right now. Has anyone here seen him or know if he could be a good choice? From what i read he’s a big (6″2) center with hands and a gritty streak that have really developed this year.

    I hate talking draft eligible players in January.

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