It was an outstanding year for the OKC Barons. Oiler fans can expect to see the results in our town beginning this fall and spreading out over the next several seasons. Who were the big winners and losers?
- Phil Cornet. Expectation: 60+ games and 30+ points in OKC. Delivery: 67, 24-13-37. Cornet was the biggest surprise in OKC this season, and there were a lot of contenders. Cornet’s very fast start (15 goals in his first 23 games) earned him an NHL callup. His chances of making the Oilers on a skill line are not high, but no one in the organization did more in the minors to improve their standing on the depth chart.
- Teemu Hartilainen. Expectation: If he stays all year in the minors, 25 goals is a reasonable expectation.Delivery: 51, 14-18-32. Hartikainen was on pace for 20+ goals despite injury and callup, and he closed well enough to have earned strong consideration for the NHL next year. Jim Byers (OKC pbp man) told me yesterday the Big Finn was Paajarvi’s equal based on performance.
- Hunter Tremblay. Expectation: 50+ games.Delivery: 68, 16-15-31. Tremblay is an older prospect but certainly put himself on the prospect map with a strong 2-way season. His 5 shorthanded goals are impressive, and his injury during the playoffs coincided with the club’s first three game losing streak in ages.
- Magnus Paajarvi. Expectation:NHL all year.Delivery: 34, 7-18-25. Paajarvi’s best arrow this season was his attitude. Lost in the NHL shuffle and losing confidence, he embraced the demotion and played his best hockey in the final 10 games of the playoffs (10, 2-8-10). Very dangerous because of speed and with good passing skills, Paajarvi’s shot and release will need work if he’s going to play on a scoring line in the NHL.
- Lennart Petrell. Expection 40 points in a full AHL season. Delivery: 9, 2-2-4. Petrell was so impressive to the eye on the penalty kill and forecheck the club kept him in the NHL all season. I’m not certain how much he helped–math suggests a mixed result–but Petrell got a tremendous amout out of his season.
- Ryan Keller: After topping 30 goals two years in a row, Keller’s total fell to 21 but he led the team in scoring. After being captain of the 2011 Calder Cup winning team, his post-season in 2012 was well off his previous levels. However, he is certainly a quality player at this level.
- Antti Tyrvainen: Tyrvainen started slowly but came on strong as the year wore on. Todd Nelson: “From the start of the season, we knew he (Tyrvainen) had the skills. He plays an abrasive style. He’s playing with confidence now and has good chemistry with his linemates (Lander and House).”
- Tyler Pitlick: I had him pegged for 12-15 goals and he fell below it. However, as spring arrived Pitlick’s play improved and he was outstanding for the first four games of the postseason. Jury is still out, but he showed enough this season to be considered a quality prospect for NHL play.
- Cameron Abney: In the RE series I suggested any AHL games for Abney would be progress and he made it into 14 of them. His 24pims are worthy of note, and -1 is also a pretty good number for his player type. I have no idea how the Oilers feel about his progress.
- Curtis Hamilton: I suggested 20 goals in a complete AHL season would be reasonable. Hamilton was injured for much of the season, but 5 goals in 41 games is disappointing. Without having seen him play it’s difficult to identify the problem, and maybe he could have turned it around ala Pitlick if he’d been healthy all year. All that said, whatever his issue the 12-13 AHL season will need to be much better if he’s going to regain his status as a quality NHL prospect.
- Oilers: For not showcasing Linus Omark in the NHL–or even better for not giving him a legit shot–they are now left to watch him walk away for a depth pick or less. Awful, awful asset management. Just putrid.
- Ryan Martindale: I had him as a player to follow this season, but 16, 0-2-2 wasn’t much to follow. Martindale is well off the pace and there were some warning signs in his draft bio. Like Hamilton, a strong second pro season will be vital.
Up next in the series: Centers.