When I was a kid, I would read through the Hockey News about this time of year to see who was really lighting it up in junior and the minor leagues. The Bruins would always have a Gregg Sheppard or a Daniel Bouchard to get excited about, and the Habs, hell those Habs AHL teams in Halifax could have made the playoffs every damn year and that’s for sure. If you look at one of those old seasons, it’s easy to see the successes now, but back then, before people used their brains for more than a hat rack, we just read the damn paper and waited for the cream to rise to the crop. (Barons photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).
THE 1971-72 NOVA SCOTIA VOYAGEURS (regulars)
- 21 and under: Larry Robinson (1384 games); Yvon Lambert (683); Chuck Lefley (407); Chuck Arnason (401); Murray Wilson (386); Randy Rota (212).
- 22 to 24: Bob Murdoch (757); Rey Comeau (564); Michel Plasse (298); Germain Gagnon (259); Wayne Thomas (243)
- 25+: Germain Gagnon (259)
Would you look at that? All the kids who were regulars that season (or so) and ended up being NHLers (some just for a couple of years, others HHOFers), and they were all doing great things in the minors 24 or earlier (Gagnon caught on late, complete outlier).
THE 2013-14 OKLAHOMA CITY BARONS (regulars)
- 21 and under: Oscar Klefbom, Kale Kessy, Travis Ewanyk, Martin Marincin, Tyler Pitlick, Martin Gernat, David Musil, Laurent Brossoit
- 22 to 24: Anton Lander, Roman Horak, Brandon Davidson, Andrew Miller
- 25+: Taylor Fedun, Linus Omark
I’m not suggesting there’s a Larry Robinson in there (or even a Bob Murdoch), but there’s a very good chance that the 21 and under group will give the Oilers more good hockey players than the second group; and we can be absolutely certain that the 21 and under will give them more NHL players than the 25+ group.
Now that’s progress in a season and a half of AHL action. Robinson would have been in the minors for 18 months in only one system, and that was the Canadiens of that era. I remember when he came up to the NHL, Robinson was a splendid young defenseman who had a brilliant mentor in veteran Serge Savard. Robinson was the 5th defenseman selected in 1971, the odds of his success were pretty good, although betting on the career he had would have been folly on draft day.
BARONS WHO’LL MAKE IT! (400 NHL games)
I’ll bet on Klefbom and Marincin. That’s two defensemen, not a goalie nor a forward but this Barons team is heavy on blue and light on every other color. Your picks? How many of the current Barons prospects do you think will play more than 400 NHL games?
A few comments about Mark Arcobello in the Top 20 series, a lot of folks would have had him earlier in the ranking. I understand that, Arcobello is having a very good rookie season and he’s already beaten the odds. However, like the ‘reasonable expectations’ series, the idea here is to place these players in a logical order based on several things we know we know.
One of the things we know is that it is rare (as shown above) for 25+ minor leaguers to emerge as NHL regulars for a long period of time. Rare rare rare. And it’s especially rare that it happens during an era without expansion (new teams often borrow talent that is established in the minor leagues and knocking on the door).
Mark Arcobello’s progress has been exceptional, and this season outstanding so far. It’s 20 NHL games and he’s 25. He’ll be along shortly in the series.
Rusty Klesla is on waivers this morning, he’ll clear or get plucked at around 10 Edmonton time this morning. A lot of smart people believe the Oilers should stay away and that’s probably the right call, but for me bringing in a veteran who might have value at the deadline makes a lot of sense. The Oilers clearly feel that the kids on the farm need more time, so if that’s the case you’re taking Klesla to replace Corey Potter—or Grebs or Larsen—and Klesla probably has more value as a trade asset at the deadline (in my opinion).
Klesla is no screaming hell, mind you. OEL doesn’t look good down there CorsiON but he’s playing the toughs and Klesla is playing the sisters of the poor but is closer to a blue bubble:
He’s playing middling competition and his zone start isn’t severe, plus Klesla’s salary (close to $3M) isn’t too dear. I’ll be very interested to see if a team picks him up, and to see if that team is Edmonton.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Today on the show, a wide variety of chatter on all things Oil, Canucks and others. 10, TSN 1260, scheduled to appear:
- Michael Parkatti, Boys on the Bus. We’ll talk about this Oiler team and what they’re missing, the value of that first round pick and his brilliant shot quality metric.
- Sean Bissell, Campus Director of Donnan Hockey. We’ll have our ask the coach feature and focus on the best way to develop younger players.
- Harrison Mooney, Puck Daddy and Pass it to Bulis. Mooney’s becoming a pop icon on the left coast, with music and mirth his calling card. We’ll talk Canucks (I’m not hating them like I used to, it’s a concern), who can score for the team, and I’ll ask if they are a playoff team.
- Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. This new lawsuit by some old timey hockey players like Curt Bennett is likely to be a big story for some time. I wonder if there’s a smoking gun from way back when, because I lived through that era and don’t recall anyone talking about concussions beyond ‘got yer bell rung’.
10-1260 via text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. See you on the radio!