In all the fuss over the big league roster it’s easy to forget many of the summer’s transactions will have a major impact on the fall Barons. Aside from lefthanded defenders–there are 60–what DO the Barons look like ? Well, like the major league team they’re experiencing a period of transition.
It’s also true that some of the Barons–Taylor Fedun, Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale, Cameron Abney–are looking at either getting buried despite their best efforts, or looking at professional extinction due to poor performance and injury. This coming season may be their last chance Texaco. And that can come very quickly–ask Teemu Hartikainen.
It was a short season for the Oilers (48 games), but the Barons didn’t really give a lot of useful at-bats to the big team when the opportunities came.
- Teemu Hartikainen 23, 1-2-3
- Anton Lander 11, 0-1-1
- Chris VandeVelde 11, 0-0-0
- Yann Danis 3, 3.82 .881
- Mark Arcobello 1, 0-0-0
The way Craig MacTavish is setting up his roster this summer, I’d expect we’ll see several NHL debuts for prospects in 2013-14. Ranging from most likely (Oscar Klefbom) to long shot (Tyler Pitlick) a new coach means everyone gets a look. Come ready from the opening whistle and get noticed!
OILERS ESTIMATED OPENING NIGHT LINEUP (23)
- Goal (2): Devan Dubnyk (starter), Jason LaBarbera
- Defense (8): Ladislav Smid-Jeff Petry; Andrew Ference-Justin Schultz; Nick Schultz-Anton Belov; Phil Larsen, Corey Potter.
- Center (4): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins; Sam Gagner; Boyd Gordon; Anton Lander.
- Left Wing (5): Taylor Hall; David Perron; Ryan Smyth; Ryan Jones; Jesse Joensuu.
- Right Wing (4): Jordan Eberle; Nail Yakupov; Ales Hemsky; Mike Brown.
I’m estimating 8 defensemen because the roster kind of sets up that way. I expect MacT will add a Smithsen or Reasoner at some point down the line but for now this looks about right to my eye. Arcobello may be an opening night replacement for the Nuge.
BARONS ESTIMATED OPENING NIGHT LINEUP (26-ish)
- Goal (2): Richard Bachman (starter), Olivier Roy
- Defense (8): Martin Marincin-Taylor Fedun; Brandon Davidson-Oscar Klefbom; Brad Hunt-Martin Gernat; David Musil-Joey Leach
- Center (5): Mark Arcobello; Andrew Miller; Will Acton; Travis Ewanyk; CJ Stretch
- Left Wing (6): Toni Rajala; Ryan Hamilton; Ben Eager; Ryan Martindale; Curtis Hamilton; Kale Kessy
- Right Wing(5): Derek Nesbitt; Matthew Ford; Tyler Pitlick; Erick Lizon; Cameron Abney
There’s usually someone missing when I do this, so speak up please and I’ll correct the list. The likely NHL cups of coffee (and you may see them in the RE series ahead) follow.
LIKELY BARON CALLUPS (in order)
- Oscar Klefbom: I’m not certain he starts in OKC, suspect the Oilers will try to make room for him if he plays well in training camp. Klefbom’s SEL experience likely puts him ahead of Marincin and others in the group. All of his arrows point in a good direction, I’d say it’s about 50% that this coming year turns out to be his rookie NHL season.
- Mark Arcobello: As things stand, he’s pretty much a lock for opening night with RNH’s recovery estimate. The Oilers may sign another center and that would impact his chances but right now this is pretty much a done deal until the Nuge returns.
- Ryan Hamilton: Has a nice chance in training camp and then beyond that he’s 4th in the pecking order that includes Smyth, Jones and Joensuu on the 3 and 4 line wings. A very strong chance he plays in the NHL at some point this coming season. Hamilton’s size, grit and willingness to play a physical game will get noticed. If I were his agent, I’d tell him to run over someone 8 seconds after the coaching staff hits the ice; just make sure it isn’t a guy making $6M.
- Richard Bachman: I think he has an outside chance of beating LaBarbera for the backup NHL job, but even if he doesn’t make it out of camp odds are a callup will occur sometime this season. It’s been years since the Oilers employed just two goalies in a season.
- Martin Marincin: LH D like Klefbom, but Marincin is more of a puck mover with some chaos and coverage issues that will be improved by experience. Still, since his skillset is not completely similar to Klefbom’s, he could see NHL action to replace Belov, Petry or Potter.
- Toni Rajala: I’m really looking forward to seeing him at training camp, suspect the Oilers will be able to play him in a couple of pre-season games with skilled men. Rajala’s a terrific prospect, the new coach is looking for people who can do good things and given an opportunity Rajala might just put himself in the mix.
- Andrew Miller: He has a nice NCAA resume and the Oilers C depth chart is rail thin. A strong early season in OKC could get move him above the event horizon, and MacT will be looking for troops to improve the lot of the club should things start slowly.
- Taylor Fedun: The problem is that Fedun’s window of opportunity is closing. This season, he begins with Klefbom, Marincin and 8 NHL guys that he has to climb over and after that there’s a bunch below trying to run him over. He’s the only RH D in the OKC mix, and for that alone he likely plays the entire Barons schedule. He hasn’t signed his qualifying offer yet, if I were him I’d have a look around.
- Will Acton: He’s on the list because 4line C is such a weak spot and he has his uses, plus is well known to the new head coach. Eakins: “We always know he’s always going to fore check hard, back pressure hard, block shots, and kill penalties.” That’s a very good description of what the Oilers need from their 4line C, and with Acton’s weakness (offense of any kind) matching Lander’s (very poor NHL boxcars) the opportunity for callup exists via injury or poor performance from Lander.
- Tyler Pitlick: This is his last Chance Texaco. A year ago at training camp he was going to get a shot. Todd Nelson: ”Tyler Pitlick, we feel that he’s a top-six guy and he’s going to get an opportunity to prove that and play in that role.” He has a career shooting percentage in OKC somewhere in the 5′s and he’s been terribly unlucky with injury. However, the opportunity remains, and in fact may be better than ever: the Edmonton Oilers don’t have an exceptional RW depth chart below the electric top 3. There’s a nice window here.
(Marincin photo by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).