This time next week, reports will be coming our way from Oklahoma City on what should be the most talented minor league team in Oilers history.
The Barons will have NHL players (Nuge, Eberle), good prospects looking to make the grade (Hartikainen, Paajarvi, Lander, Teubert) and one new pro destined to have a major impact on the Barons and the Oilers in the coming years (Justin Schultz).
Those men will get lots of coverage on this blog over the coming months. The main thrust of the OKC coverage here will focus on the following:
- The stars and their boxcars (plus their health).
- The prospects who have a legit chance to play in the NHL (Hartikainen, Paajarvi) when that league returns.
- The prospects who still have work to do (Lander, Pitlick, Teubert).
- The prospects who may be in a little trouble (Hamilton) depending on what happens this season.
- Todd Nelson and how he handles the challenge of crazy talents versus getting prospects their icetime.
Jason Gregor’s interview with OKC coach Todd Nelson sets the stage nicely on a number of issues. Please click through and read the story, there’s a lot covered that I won’t quote below. However, I did want to have these quotes from the coach close by for future reference.
- Nelson on Justin Schultz: “I think it’s always an adjustment. There is always a period of adjustment. It’s excellent for him to come here and start playing pro. Just to play against older guys that are men, it’s a bit more competitive. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to make time for him on the power play.“
- Nelson on Tyler Pitlick: “He has to play in a top-six role, that’s where we have him slotted. He might play in a line with Josh Green. I see him as a winger right now. I used him both as a centreman and as a winger last year. He said that he felt more comfortable on the wing and he has tremendous speed as we all know, so to have him flying down the wing has been a sight to see. I think the biggest thing with him is just like with a lot of players, he just has to work on his consistency; always finishing your checks game in and game out.”
- Nelson on Curtis Hamilton: “Curtis Hamilton is entering his second year. Guys like him and Pitlick are going to be relied on a lot more. I watched some game tape last summer when Curtis played in the world juniors and he played the penalty kill very well. He’s certainly a very smart hockey player and he’s going to be one of our go to guys on the PK.”
- Nelson on Taylor Fedun: “I’m very excited to see him playing this year just based on how he looked in development camp. He has a very bright future ahead of him and he’s a very smart hockey player. I like the way that he moves the puck, so I’m very excited to see him skating well and from all of the indications that I’ve been given, he’s ready to go.”
I think it might be wise to begin with our expectations. What would be a good outcome from this season in OKC? Would Paajarvi, Schultz and Lander developing into NHL players be enough? If Schultz makes a smooth transition to NHL hockey after player 40+ games in the AHL, how much credit do we give?
What say you?