Farm Workers

There are certain truths about a minor league team: the truly gifted players spend little or no time there; any prospect still in the minors after his entry level deal lives in a world where “waivers” and “not tendered an offer” are more likely than a callup and 500 at-bats. How did this year’s group fare?

A couple of years ago I used Brian Conacher’s book to give us a guideline for minor league players and their development timeline. That post is here. Let’s have a look at the rules laid down there and see how they apply to the 2011-12 OKC Barons.

  1. Men who are over 30 and come out of the minors to establish (0r re-establish) themselves are pretty much a thing of the past. You’ll find the odd goalie or defenseman but unlike the orginal 6 era very few teams have enough depth and free agency makes it impossible to keep them on the farm. Which is a good thingBARONS 11-12: Josh Green (33) did get some NHL time (7 games) and so did Yann Danis (30 years old, 1 game) but those games could very well be their last in the NHL.
  2. Pretty much everyone who is in the AHL past (say) 21 has some issues and is going to do some meandering (this is universal from 1965 through 2009). Barons 11-12: No argument here. Paajarvi is the best prospect on the team and he certainly has issues. The newest pro’s (Pitlick and Hamilton) look like they’re going to be spending most or all of their entry level deals on the farm.
  3. We shouldn’t expect Rob Schremp to play more career games than Sam Gagner or Andrew Cogliano. Whatever that line in the sand is, that line sticks. BARONS 11-12: Paajarvi’s stint in the minors–and Lander’s too–shouldn’t be viewed as an extreme negative, although the only way either of them catch Hall/RNH is injury to the two number one’s. Paajarvi turns 21 in August and has played 121 NHL games. I have no evidence but that seems like a pretty good foundation for a long career. Lander’s situation is similar but he’s a step behind MP.
  4. No minor league regular is likely to do anything incredible like play in 1,000 NHL games. It is a rare thing for a player to spend a couple of seasons in the minors and then go on to a 1,000 NHL game calibre career. Barons 11-12: Hartikainen has played over 100 AHL games to this point and I’d say he’s a good bet to have a solid NHL career. 1,000 games? Seems like a distant bell. Paajarvi’s quick start means he’s in the conversation for 1,000 until he spends a complete season outside the league.
  5. If you haven’t established yourself as a prospect of interest by 22 you are in trouble. The players who have graduated to useful NHL careers have at least played some NHL games by the end of their entry level deals. Barons 11-12: Pretty long list of possibles, including Paajarvi, Lander and Hartikainen. I’d also include as possibles Plante, Chorney and Teubert. Linus Omark had established himself as a prospect by 22, but not in the AHL. Same rule applies. Phil Cornet got in just under the wire, by the way.
  6. Exceptions are college men. Playing 4 NCAA seasons means turning pro at 22, meaning a “late start” for some quality prospects. Barons 11-12: The obvious recent example is Jeff Petry, the poster boy for Oiler college picks over the past decade. Chris VandeVelde still has some time as a prospect, and Hunter Tremblay has done some nice things despite advanced age for a prospect. Tanner House also got a look, but appears to be lagging behind the others.
  7. The few college men on this list show very well.NHL teams should treat the college signing season as extremely important. Barons 11-12: Oilers under MBS haven’t spent a high number of picks on college players (Pitlick, Simpson) and one hopes there isn’t a built-in bias against the college player. I am encouraged by their renewed aggression in signing graduating college men.
  8. A large group of players on the current team could be described in the “tweener” division. History tells us we’ll have our answers on men like Schremp, Spurgeon, Roy and Reddox very soon. It also tells us we already have our answer on Colin McDonald. Barons 11-12: Still true, the crossroads players for Edmonton now are Plante, Chorney, Hartikainen, Omark, VandeVelde. I’d bet good money on the Finn and the Swede, and am intrigued by Plante’s progress.
  9. If we make a list of the minor league RFA’s each summerwe can probably as a group pick the cuts and be fairly close. That 50 man list gets a haircut every summer.Barons 11-12: Linus Omark heads the list, although he’s a major league player. I still can’t really believe they’ll flush him, but it sure looks dire for the gifted winger. Alex Plante is also RFA, I think the Oilers will sign him again. VandeVelde, Chorney, Hunter Tremblay and Milan Kytnar are also in this group. With so many defensemen on the way, Chorney may be vulnerable but I’d guess Edmonton will retain him and attempt to clear him through waivers again in the fall.
  10. As much as we talk about men like Dan Lacouture and Brad Winchester as disappointing, they were able to find a role and survive. Impact offensive players aren’t in the AHL as a rule, it’s the ones who go to the AHL and learn how to shape their skills into a useful mold. Barons 11-12: I think a guy like Plante would fit this description, and maybe Teubert and Tyrvainen too.
  11. Daniel Cleary, Fernando Pisani and Jason Chimera became productive players in the toughest league on the planet.THEY are the stars in this study. Barons 11-12: This is the group that is currently represented by Hartikainen, Paajarvi, Lander and possibly Pitlick and Curtis Hamilton if they develop as hoped. These are the players Edmonton needs for depth and in my opinion there’s a lot of quality here. The next Pisani, the next Cleary, this is an important area of development.
  12. For Rob Schremp fans, there’s exactly ONE pure offensive player who made it:Mike Walton. Barons 11-12: This is the Omark category, and I think he’s miles better than Schremp. Omark isn’t perfect, he cheats for offense and is sometimes slow to abandon sorties and get back to where he once belonged, but hell man the hard part of the game is getting it done in the other guy’s back yard. Omark? This dog will hunt.
  13. The future NHLERS are……..If I’m a betting man, these are the winners from the current group to be the new Cleary and Chimera. Barons 11-12: My money is on 5 players: Omark, Paajarvi, Lander, Hartikainen and Pitlick. That’s a lot for one AHL team (the 09-10 group brought Dubnyk and Peckham only, as an example) but the organization is drafting talent and that’s reflected here.

I think the 11-12 Barons will give the future Oilers some very good Cleary’s and Pisani’s.

Nation Radio hits the airwaves today at noon on Team 1260. Among the guests scheduled to appear:

  • Jason Gregor host of the Jason Gregor Show on Team 1260 each weekday afternoon 2-6. We’ll discuss the Oilers and some of the things we might see over the summer, and touch base on the Oil Kings and what a winning hockey team means to this city.
  • Kent Simpson, color commentator for the Edmonton Oil Kings. They won last night and had an amazing season. I’ll ask Kent how far they can go and we’ll discuss young Martin Gernat and his future.
  • Cam Moon, Red Deer Rebels play by play man. We’ll talk about RNH’s terrific season and I’ll ask Cam about the latest phenom from the Rebels–Matt Dumba. He might be the first player taken from the dub, and we’ll get a scouting report and profile from Cam.
  • Kent Wilson from Flames Nation. Calgary has had a tumultuous week and face a must-win situation this afternoon. We’ll set the stage with Kent off the top of the show.
  • Peter Loubardias will help us set this year’s WHL playoffs and offer some insight into the WHL defensemen eligible for this year’s NHL entry draft. Murray, Dumba, Reinhart, Reilly–the list is long and impressive.
  • Robert Cleave from Jets Nation. Robert is a clever and funny commentator on the Jets, Flames and others. We’ll talk about winning on the road versus domination at home and what kind of impact it has had on the Jets season.

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17 Responses to "Farm Workers"

  1. Zack says:

    A little off topic but Ryan Murray had a goal and assist last night against Tri City. He had an even plus minus on the night even though Tri City outscored Everett 7-2.

  2. Bos8 says:

    OKC team has a 40 win season – impressive.

    Last night – Lander, Paajarvi, Pitlick a point each.

  3. gd says:

    Zack,

    For me Murray’s stat line is about as impressive as you can get considering how much worse his team is and I’m assuming he played around 30 minutes. My biggest concern with him is how bad his team is, but to see him play that well against an elite team with a lot of 19/20 year olds has moved him to the top of my very uneducated list of who I want the Oilers to draft.

  4. godot10 says:

    gd:
    Zack,

    For me Murray’s stat line is about as impressive as you can get considering how much worse his team is and I’m assuming he played around 30 minutes. My biggest concern with him is how bad his team is, but to see him play that well against an elite team with a lot of 19/20 year olds has moved him to the top of my very uneducated list of who I want the Oilers to draft.

    Paul Coffey played for an absolutely horrid junior team in his last year.

    I want Murray or Reinhart. And then package the 2nd and one of the 2nds from next year or a current prospect to move up to grab Galchenyuk if he slides in the first round.

  5. Ribs says:

    Oilers have recalled VandeVelde. I was just thinking that I’d like to see him again for a cup of coffee.

  6. Billy Boisey says:

    gd,

    I mentioned this in the other thread, but this year’s Tips roster is biblically horrific. Murray makes a huge impact on the fortunes of the team. If he had been healthy the whole season, the team likely would have finished noticeably higher in the rankings.

  7. hunter1909 says:

    Ryan Murray for the 2012 1st round pick is my choice. Ryan Murray’s being compared to Mark Howe, probably the most under-rated NHL player in history, ffs.

    Yakupov they can’t pass on in case they win the lottery, but the way they manage the kids right now, you wonder how many or few games Nail’s going to play before his first big injury, like we already get with Hall+RNH.

    TANK UPDATE: Last night’s terrible OT win thankfully offset by a Hab’s win, plus other potential lottery candidate teams winning.

  8. sliderule says:

    The main problem I see in Murray is his age.If he was 12days younger he would have been in the 2011 draft.
    Almost all the defencemen taken in last years first round have had better boxes than Murray.

    The oils two selections Musil and Gernat who played in WHL had as good or in gernats case much better boxes.

    Klefbom played great in WJC and earned all star selection.Musil played very well in the same tourney.I didn’t see Gernat play but from all reports and boxes he played well.Murray had a decent tournament but he didn’t dominate like Klefbom or even at times Musil.

    If we draft Murray we will select a player who is not showing as well as the three defencemen we selected who are all about his age.

  9. Bos8 says:

    .If we draft Murray we will select a player who is not showing as well as the three defencemen we selected who are all about his age.

    QFT

  10. jake70 says:

    “but the way they manage the kids right now, you wonder how many or few games Nail’s going to play before his first big injury, like we already get with Hall+RNH.”

    This is the exact reason I am leaning toward one of the russians, more specifically, a forward, as some injury insurance for the two #1s (that hit on Hall by Sarich was not pretty) and PRV, who may not find a scoring touch. Grigorenko won the Michel Bergeron trophy for top offensive rookie in the Q this year, and this article talking about his transition to North American hockey and life (takes english classes 5 times a week, sign Omark up…)……6’3″ and 200pound at 17 is welcomed also.

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=623059

  11. godot10 says:

    Murray was top four on Canada’s World Junior team as a draft eligible. Draft eligible defensemen rarely make the team, and if they do, they are usually the 7th guy.

    Last draft eligible defenseman with a major role on Canada’s World Junior team was Drew Doughty. Ryan Ellis was only a power play specialist.

  12. gd says:

    Rob Brown (whose dad is an Oiler scout) mentioned he thinks the Oilers have the two Russians way ahead of everyone else. I still worry about loading up all the elite talent at forward, from pp time and future salary cap point of view. The only reason Pittsburgh can do it is Staal is only pd $4Mill which I think is at least $1.5 below mkt.

    I keep hearing Murray is the safe pick, and my feeling is with the Oilers existing young talent this is the time for a safe pick. After watching Schultz for the last month, I feel I’ve underestimated the value of steady, smart defensive zone dmen and I’m not sure any stat, other than wins/losses properly measures steady dmen. My worry with Murray is he is slotted all over the top 10 on various list, and the fact that the last 20 years are littered with disappointing top 3 pick dmen. I think a legitimate question is maybe the Oilers already have a few legitimate top 4 dmen in their existing prospect pool.

    All I know, I think this pick will decides Stu’s legacy, and the pick, plus whatever is done with the coaching should be the final measurement of this management.

  13. "Steve Smith" says:

    Anybody know if there’s some way on BTN of looking only at a player’s performance with a particular team in a given season? I’d like to have a look at how things have been going for Schultz and Gilbert since the trade.

  14. spoiler says:

    “Steve”

    I think you’d have to use Vic’s tool, Time on Ice to isolate that data.

  15. stevezie says:

    godot10: Paul Coffey played for an absolutely horrid junior team in his last year.

    Vonnegut and Goldman are my two favourite writers, and they can both be summarized witht he following quote: “Nobody knows anything”.

    Drafting is such an inexact science. The confidence with which some people make declarations baffles me. When it comes to the fate of seventeen year olds, certainty reveals oneself as a fool, as am I, and as is anyone who thinks he sees what God is doing.

  16. hunter1909 says:

    Those idiots are winning so many games lately that 7th overall is not impossible by any stretch.

    Just think: another virtual last place season, punctuated at the finish by a flourish of AHL Lifer’s, all playing above their worthless heads.

  17. hunter1909 says:

    “Steve Smith”:
    Anybody know if there’s some way on BTN of looking only at a player’s performance with a particular team in a given season?I’d like to have a look at how things have been going for Schultz and Gilbert since the trade.

    That’s easy, Steve. Shultz has been solid, and Gilbert’s been weak.

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