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.
- 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 thing. BARONS 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.