I spoke to Neal Livingston this morning about the OKC Barons, and it struck me how quickly the attention shifts from one generation to the next. Neal and I have spoken many times over the last few seasons, and there’s rarely a segment that passes without me asking after Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton and Ryan Martindale. Except Pitlick is in Edmonton, Martindale is in San Antonio.
The new questions? Khaira, Chase, Oesterle.
Neal told me that Oesterle was paired with David Musil (and that Musil typically gets the new hires, encouraging in and of itself). He told me Oesterle looks well ahead of the curve, and this his foot speed and stickhandling are good, but he’ll need to work on decision making and knock off some rust. As with all kids moving to pro, strength and winning battles is going to be an issue. In two games, he has no points and is -1.
Livingston describes Greg Chase as a pesky, big bodied forward. “To use a basketball analogy, if there was a screen he’d drive right through the pick” Neal told me, and that’s an excellent description of the player I’ve seen play for Calgary.
On Khaira: “I see him as a Hartikainen 2.0. If you were concerned about Hartikainen’s foot speed, Khaira has no problems. He’s a quick skater, he’s very fast and good on faceoffs.” Livingston also talked about his ability on the PP to stand in front of the net and shield the net. “A really good centerman” as Neal describes Khaira. He suggested Khaira might be a good 2C option next season in Oklahoma City.
We also talked about coach Todd Nelson. It’ll be interesting to see what Edmonton does this summer with the head coach of the Barons. He’s already been an assistant coach in the NHL, but I have to believe Nelson could be an enormous help to Dallas Eakins next season. His knowledge of these young players and how to use them would make for a quick transition.
I have no idea if Nelson would be interested in the role.
(all photos by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).