The Edmonton Oilers have renewed the contracts of Todd Nelson and the entire OKC Barons coaching staff. It’s an important job and one the Oilers often overlooked during their “shared” AHL teams and orphan prospects of the early ’00s under the EIG.
The job of the AHL coaching staff is the following: developing talent, grinding quality prospects into useful NHL players by preaching consistency, intelligent play and making sure you’re in the right place on the ice. Sounds simple, but the Oilers own draft history is full of names unable to develop in this way.
Since taking over the coaching job in fall 2010, the following OKC players have received callups under Nelson and made their NHL debuts:
- Jeff Petry, 108 NHL games and a bona fide NHL player whose time with Nelson as coach was important to his development.
- Linus Omark, 65 NHL games and a lot of offensive success in the AHL.
- Teemu Hartikainen, 29 NHL games and a strong chance to make the roster as a regular in 12-13.
- Colten Teubert, 24 NHL games and developing.
- Chris VandeVelde, 17 NHL games and plenty of time learning the defensive aspects of playing center at the pro level.
- Alex Plante, 10 NHL games (6 since Nelson arrived) and his two best AHL seasons.
- Colin McDonald, 7 NHL games (5 since Nelson took over) and a career season that allowed him to get a very good contract from Pittsburgh summer 2011.
- Phil Cornet, 2 NHL games and a giant leap forward offensively under Nelson.
- Milan Kytnar, a 1 game cup of coffee before heading back to Europe.
Anton Lander, Magnus Paajarvi, Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, Kirill Tulupov and others are in the pipeline and we should expect more success from the AHL players knocking on the NHL door.
Is this a good resume after two seasons? It looks like it, Petry’s development has to be shared with his NCAA team but in interviews he’s given credit to the things learned in the American Hockey League. I think we can safely say that the Nelson OKC resume is miles beyond the EIG shared group of last decade. Whether the Barons template provides “average” or “above average” production is something we can look at in a couple of years.
It’s too soon to know how well they’re doing compared to league average.