Despite the lockout, this could be a very worthwhile season for the Edmonton Oilers. If they can find two or three usable parts in the OKC lineup that can be plug and play solutions at the NHL level when they turn the lights back on, well that’s one useful winter.
Here’s my list–in order–of the players who have advanced their cause this season. Obviously NHL regulars aren’t on the list.
- Justin Schultz: Who knew? Ridiculous season. Just off the rails. Lordy.
- Teemu Hartikainen: 21, 6-11-17 and he’s been able to sustain the offense even during periods when the big three play together. He drives to the net, is very physical and is using his size well. Hartikainen still lacks consistency but I think they’ll punch his ticket to the NHL when the lockout ends.
- G Yann Danis: 16, 2.70 .913 and trending up after a very poor start to the season. Danis is in a very good spot for a roster spot, what with Nikolai Khabibulin falling apart piece by piece and the organization having done absolutely nothing to protect themselves. I think he’s probably already penciled in as Dubnyk’s backup.
- Magnus Paajarvi: 21, 3-12-15 and I’m hoping he ends up being that 2-way winger we always talk about the Oilers needing. Paajarvi has his issues–he does play on the outside and it does appear he fades if he gets hammered enough–but that footspeed is a marvel and I think he’s been driving to the net pretty well. A smart player, man you can see it even on the hazy video.
- Colten Teubert: 20, 1-1-2 Tuebert is gaining the reputation for being the guy who will absolutely come to the aid of his teammates–no matter the score, the point in the game, the wisdom of the move–and Oilers management believes heavily in the value of that kind of player. He’s also won some fights, and that’ll help him too. I think he might be close to taking over from Theo Peckham, although I remain convinced Peckham is the better player.
- Martin Marincin 19, 3-9-12 and he’s the first of the group I believe has advanced his cause but won’t play much if at all in the NHL this season. Marincin has all kinds of good arrows but makes the mistakes we associate with young defensemen. The Oilers have been moving these guys up the system no matter the inexperience level, but with Marincin I suspect they’ll feel patience is the better plan.
- Taylor Fedun 19, 2-5-7 and I think he’s done some nice things so far this season. Footspeed is a concern but he is looking more comfortable as the season rolls along. Could he move ahead of Teubert as the first callup? Don’t know. He’s been good, though.
- Chris VandeVelde 18, 1-4-5 he’s probably the first center callup ahead of Anton Lander and he certainly spends a lot of time on the PK. VV isn’t going to bring a lot of offense–he doesn’t bring much in the AHL.
Last night the OKC Barons lost on a late mistake involving rookie defensemen Martin Marincin and Justin Schultz. Like everyone else, I’m not fond of the timing but this is what happens when you run rookies out there so much. The Marincin-Schultz pairing is the #1 group, and they must play 25 minutes a night. The second pairing features another rookie in Fedun and an AHL veteran in Teubert, and the third pairing has Alex Plante and last night Nathan Deck playing his first AHL game.
For your reading pleasure, here’s a list of AHL-NHL games played before this season by the six men from the blue:
- Alex Plante 180
- Colten Teubert 150
- Martin Marincin 7
- Justin Schultz 0
- Taylor Fedun 0
- Nathan Deck 0
Experience. It’s pretty fucking handy, people.