THE PEOPLE TRAIN DON’T RUN THROUGH WICHITA

The 2013-14 season reminded Oilers fans about the importance of a strong minor-league team. When the starting six on blue were found wanting, Martin Marincin was recalled and delivered impressively during the last half of the season. These Barons teams have miles to go, and we don’t know the entire success story of each season in Oklahoma. What we can do is begin comparing Todd Nelson’s Barons to the best Edmonton minor league teams of the past.

moog2

BEST TEAM EVER: WICHITA WIND

I count the Oilers best all-time farm team as the 81-82 Wichita WInd. They didn’t win the Calder Cup (the 92-93 Cape Breton Oilers won the Calder) but it was a fine team and delivered a bounty to the NHL team. Here’s a list of NHLers the Wichita Wind 81-82 team graduted to the world’s best hockey league:

  • Andy Moog, who had a couple of cups of coffee before and during 81-82 but established himself as a quality NHL prospect during this season. The Oilers would eventually deal Moog, but he was certainly one of the finest goaltenders of his era.
  • Charlie Huddy, who would be a strong contributor to the best Oiler teams in history and play in over 1,000 NHL games. Huddy was not drafted, rather he was signed by the Oilers and spent parts of three seasons in the minors before graduating to the show. His development should serve as a strong reminder that good defensemen often take some time to develop. A splendid player.
  • Walt Poddubny, who would flourish in the NHL. He played 468 games and scored 184 goals, 116 of those in a stunning three season run from 86-89.
  • John Blum, who would play 250 NHL games (most with Boston) was signed by the organization from Michigan (NCAA) after his graduation from college.
  • Don Jackson, who rescued his career in Wichita and performed well for the Oilers during the first portion of the Stanley runs (dealt Oct 86). He was a solid role player for the Oilers during those years.
  • Tom Roulston, who played 195 NHL games (and 47 goals) for the Oilers just before they started bagging Stanley’s every spring.

And there were a few cups of coffee, including Ray Cote who old timers like me will remember. That’s an outstanding return from your farm team. Lordy. I don’t think we can expect that kind of graduation from the current Barons, the two best players in that group (Moog and Huddy) are stunning representations of players who began their careers in the minors. Expecting one of those is a bad idea, two (in Oilers’ history) isn’t reasonable.

pisani ot

BEST TEAM OF THE CENTURY

The 2001-02 Hamilton Bulldogs are long forgotten, but they graduated a ton of talent to the big leagues and much of the talent produced came well below the first round picks.

  • Coach Claude Julien guided the team to a 37-30-13 record and a deep playoff run. He would get his NHL chance and has delivered.
  • Leading scorer Jason Chimera (5th rd pick) has cleared 792 NHL games and 136 goals.
  • Fernando Pisani (8th rd pick) scored 102 NHL goals–regular season and playoffs combined–and one of them is an all-time goal deep in the heart of the Stanley cup finals.
  • Marc-Andre Bergeron (undrafted) was a minor league free agent signing who made all the experts look foolish by enjoying a solid NHL career. He is still active (in Europe) and played 490 NHL games between 2002-2013.
  • Ty Conklin (undrafted) was a much sought after free agent and has had an NHL career of note (215 games).
  • Jussi Markkanen (5th rd pick) was a Finn Oiler, the absolute top drawer. He also played in net for the most important game since 1990, and performed in 102 NHL games.

That’s a pretty nice haul for one minor league club. The fun part is looking at the failures. I’ve always stopped short of saying “if your first round pick has to play in the AHL for a year that probably means he’s not good enough” but logic and common sense suggest otherwise. It might be a rule that works for the Oilers, however. Consider the failures–1st rounders Michael Henrich (1998) and Jani Rita (1999), along with Chris Hajt (2nd rd pick, 1996), Alex Henry (3rd rd pick, 1998), and Alexei Semenov (2nd rd pick, 1999). That’s a lot of fail.

I should note here that the lockout teams (2004-05, 2012-13) were excluded for obvious reasons, and I also excluded the ‘shared’ teams with Montreal. The 2002-03 Hamilton Bulldogs housed Jarret Stoll and most of the players above, and were clearly an incredibly AHL team.

klefbom screen capture

THE BEST BARONS TEAM

I’m going to pick last year’s team, with respect to Jeff Petry and the group who played for the first Barons team. Among the players who I believe should or could have NHL careers of 200 games or more:

  • Martin Marincin, now at 44 NHL games and seemingly secure for NHL employment in the coming season.
  • Oscar Klefbom, a rare first-round selection the Oilers placed in the AHL who should deliver a quality NHL career. May spend another year in the minors. Klefbom photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved.
  • Anton Lander, whose entry-level deal was a mess because the organization refused to get out of its own way. Lander earned a one-way contract and could find an NHL career from here. It should be noted that false-start careers do happen, Daniel Cleary being an Oilers example from late last century.
  • Roman Horak, who looked like a really nice prospect before bolting, one hopes he returns.
  • Tyler Pitlick, who played his first NHL games in 2013-14 and may find a career in Edmonton.
  • Martin Gernat, who had a nice season in OKC and has some miles to go.
  • David Musil, who delivered an impressive first pro season and helped his career doing it.
  • Brandon Davidson, who had a very nice second half and has an outside shot at a career.

There are others too (I’m not including Mark Arcobello, he played fewer than 20 games), and for me the combination of Marincin and Klefbom makes this the best candidate (so far) for best Barons team (in terms of development). The forwards in 2014-15—including Yakimov, Khaira and Pakarinen—may emerge as a better candidate, especially if Klefbom spends substantial time in the AHL.

That’s how I see it, how about you?

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

hurdle gif

FRIDAY! 10 this morning, TSN 1260. Steve Lansky gets things rolling at 10:05, and will be followed by Kent Ridley from Ridley Scouting to discuss the CFL weekend. Rob Soria from Oil Drop will discuss tennis and the Oilers at 11, and then Corey Graham gives us an Oil King update as well.

Weekend!!! @Lowetide_ or 10-1260 via text. Talk soon.

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33 Responses to "THE PEOPLE TRAIN DON’T RUN THROUGH WICHITA"

  1. Ducey says:

    I must be old. I remember Ray Cote.

    In other news, the Condors have hired Bruce Boudreau’s son as an assistant coach. The way the Oilers keep it in the family, he might show up on the radar in a few years.

    http://www.bakersfieldcondors.com/news/ben-boudreau-named-assistant-coach/

    They also signed Colin Joe, who played for the Golden Bears last year.

  2. papa96 says:

    That’s good news about Colin Joe, five year Golden Bear, Edmonton boy and a real character player.

  3. RexLibris says:

    Terrific article by Scott Cullen about East Cost blogger Corey Sznajder researching ZE with possession.

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=459985

  4. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    “Andy Moog, who had a couple of cups of coffee before and during 81-82 but established himself as a quality NHL prospect during this season.”

    Didn’t Moog drive the playoff run in the 80-81 season?

  5. Lowetide says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    “Andy Moog, who had a couple of cups of coffee before and during 81-82 but established himself as a quality NHL prospect during this season.”

    Didn’t Moog drive the playoff run in the 80-81 season?

    Yes. But he didn’t win an NHL job.

  6. Hammers says:

    Makes me weep thinking of those years with no team and the lack of development . A player like Dubnyk may have become a good goalie if he wasn’t shuffled off hoping to get games with other organizations AHL teams . Not sure I can ever forgive a guy like Pocklington who had a great team & an AHL team supplying actual players and then running it into the ground . WE have seen the best and unfortunately the worst ( from the early 90′s with a blip in 06 ) .

  7. thejonrmcleod says:

    If anyone’s interested, I started writing for The Oilers Rig. Here’s my first post: http://www.theoilersrig.com/2014/08/season-review-disasters-averted/

  8. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Lowetide: Yes. But he didn’t win an NHL job.

    wasn’t that because Fuhr came in and stole the show as a rookie in 81-82?

    memory of Gzowski’s book is all I have here… I was 2 when this happened.

  9. Lowetide says:

    Romulus Apotheosis: wasn’t that because Fuhr came in and stole the show as a rookie in 81-82?

    memory of Gzowski’s book is all I have here… I was 2 when this happened.

    Sure. The Fuhr-Moog battle divided fans pretty much until Moog was dealt. And I think we all felt Moog was capaple after the Montreal series. However, he was not a first round pick and was a relatively new pro.

  10. G Money says:

    Romulus Apotheosis: wasn’t that because Fuhr came in and stole the show as a rookie in 81-82?

    memory of Gzowski’s book is all I have here… I was 2 when this happened.

    Man, you’re just a baby! I had no idea.

    How on earth do you type all those articles with those tiny chubby baby fingers?!?!

  11. RexLibris says:

    thejonrmcleod:
    If anyone’s interested, I started writing for The Oilers Rig. Here’s my first post: http://www.theoilersrig.com/2014/08/season-review-disasters-averted/

    That’s some nice work.

    Reminding people of the Chicken Little plot lines we’d all created in our minds can help us learn for the next time. It also serves to insulate oneself against the pessimistic trolling one inevitably encounters as the season progresses.

  12. oilgreg says:

    Lowetide: Sure. The Fuhr-Moog battle divided fans pretty much until Moog was dealt. And I think we all felt Moog was capaple after the Montreal series. However, he was not a first round pick and was a relatively new pro.

    And let’s not forget that Fuhr was,arguably, the best goaltender of his generation. Or, if one is to believe Gretzky, the best period.

  13. commonfan14 says:

    “David Musil, who delivered an impressive first pro season and helped his career doing it.”

    Musil has a chance to have one of the greatest career arcs ever in terms of his relationship with Oiler fans:

    Stage 1: Welcomed With Open Arms – “Makes sense to take a D there. And hey, Frank’s boy!”

    Stage 2: Mild Trepidation – “What do you mean, he can’t skate?”

    Stage 3: Exasperation – “Can’t skate, no offense, taken too high, classic Oiler nepotism… Freakin Tambo!!”

    Stage 4: Outright Hatred – “Jenner, Gibson and Saad ALL LEFT ON THE BOARD??!!!! FREAKIN TAMBO!!”

    Stage 5: Stubborn Dislike – “I don’t care if he’s coming along. Jenner, Gibson and Saad All Left On The Board!”

    Stage 6: Grudging Intrigue – “Still the wrong pick, but nice that he’s keeping his head above water in the A”

    Stage 7: Grudging Acceptance – “Wow, crazy that he made the team. Tambo got lucky.”

    Stage 8: Mild Appreciation – “You know who does a lot of the little things for this team? David Musil.”

    Stage 9: Genuine Appreciation – “Musil is such a beauty – we need a nickname for him.”

    Stage 10: All-out Love – “Screw nicknames – ATTABOY MEW-ZER!!!!!!!”

    I think the fanbase at large currently averages out to Stage 5, with a few people stuck in Stage 4 and a few coming around to Stage 6.

    It’ll be amazing to watch if he can knock off a few more.

  14. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    G Money: Man, you’re just a baby!I had no idea.

    How on earth do you type all those articles with those tiny chubby baby fingers?!?!

    in normal human years, sure I’m fairly young.

    but in body, mind and temperament I am probably one of the oldest folks here.

  15. G Money says:

    Romulus Apotheosis,

    It’s all good as long as you stay off my lawn!

    On a side note, I didn’t get a chance to read your ‘stats resources’ article til a few days after you posted the link. Great stuff! (especially for an article typed with tiny chubby baby fingers)

  16. russ99 says:

    I certainly wouldn’t pick last year’s team to represent the Barons as they eked into the playoffs and were dumped out of round one.

    I also doubt if those players’ ceilings are as good as previous minor league teams, other than the defensemen.

    The 11-12 Barons team was the best and only Dallas Eakins’ Marlies kept them from a shot at the cup.

    Yann Danis stood on his head that playoff year and we had contributions from such part-time Oilers like Hartikainen, MPS and Omark.

  17. Yeti says:

    commonfan14,

    Simply brilliant!

  18. Lowetide says:

    Yeti:
    commonfan14,

    Simply brilliant!

    I giggled

  19. justDOit says:

    G Money:
    Romulus Apotheosis,

    (especially for an article typed with tiny chubby baby fingers)

    He probably has Siri taking dictation.

  20. justDOit says:

    commonfan14,

    When I get to stage 9, I’m thinking of using ‘Moose-il’.

  21. G Money says:

    justDOit: He probably has Siri taking dictation.

    These kids and their technology!

    (OK, I’m done with that running joke, though I inordinately enjoyed typing ‘tiny chubby baby fingers’!)

  22. supernova says:

    LT,

    “logic and common sense indicate that your 1st rounders shouldn’t play a year in the NHL.”

    What would this mean for say someone like Darnell Nurse if he was to play next year for the Barons?

    Or if the Oilers happen to place say 19th overall this season and their draft pick plays a couple years of junior and a full season of AHL.

    ——-
    I have been looking forward to the day where mid 1st round picks or later have to be seasoned in the AHL, am I on the wrong wave length? Should I always expect a 1st rounder to go directly to the NHL whether it be draft plus 1 or 2?

    ——-

    I know in Calgary they are almost completely writing off Sven. Is this the level we should expect if they don’t hit the NHL right away?

  23. G Money says:

    The day hockey players come up with clever nicknames is the day I literally fall of my chair in surprise.

    Musil has so many options. “Meta” seems obvious. “Ex lax” a logical extension. “Moose jr” in the tradition of Messier. etc.

    But yeah … you know he’s going to be “Mewzy” or “Mewzers”.

  24. justDOit says:

    G Money:

    (OK, I’m done with that running joke, though I inordinately enjoyed typing ‘tiny chubby baby fingers’!)

    and I enjoyed reading ‘tiny chubby baby fingers’!

  25. godot10 says:

    thejonrmcleod:
    If anyone’s interested, I started writing for The Oilers Rig. Here’s my first post: http://www.theoilersrig.com/2014/08/season-review-disasters-averted/

    Donald Rumsfeld:
    “Reports that say there’s — that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

    We can be pretty certain there are unknown disasters that are going to happen, like Eakins last year, that we are unaware off.

    MacT may have missed the obvious landmines. One shouldn’ count ones chickens before one gets through the minefield.

    I will just make the observation that Toonces is still driving the car.

  26. thejonrmcleod says:

    godot10,

    I certainly don’t believe that MacT is not going to make a mistake during this coming season. My main point was that he’s more trustworthy than Tambellini. And I think that the disasters will not be as frequent now.

  27. Woodguy says:

    I read something this morning which dovetails well with LT’s post as I relate it to Marincin.

    Scott Cullen has a post up at TSN about Cory Sznajder. I’m sure most of you are aware that Cory is a Hurricane’s blogger who has decided to watch every NHL game from last season and track zone entries and exits.

    http://www.tsn.ca/fantasy_news/story/?id=459985

    Many people in the fancy stat word can’t wait for his database to be done so it can be analysed.

    This part of Cullen’s piece caught my attention:

    As Sznajder noted, though, “The Kings make it nearly impossible (for the opposition) to enter the zone under control.”

    This is precisely why I’m interested to see the individual defence data. The player that closes the defensive gap in the neutral zone better than others can drive possession numbers, yet might not get a whole lot of acclaim for that skill. Conversely, there may be players getting recognition (and big contracts) yet have trouble defending at their blueline.

    I immediately thought about Marincin.

    By eye (yes I watch the games) Marincin proved himself very adept at breaking up zone entries just outside the blue line with his long reach.

    He really seemed to surprise many players with his ability to poke the puck off their stick as they tried to enter the zone.

    This got me thinking towards the value of Corsi.

    Corsi is capturing this play because there isn’t a shot attempt against on that shift, or at the very least, on that play.

    Corsi, unlike many other stats, actually gives you credit when the puck doesn’t get shot against your net because its a total of what gets created when you are on the ice minus what gets given up when you are on the ice.

    Here are the Shots Agaisnt/60 as per BTN for Oiler D last year for an interesting bit of info:

    ANTONBELOV 27
    JEFFPETRY 28.5
    MARTINMARINCIN 29.2
    PHILIPLARSEN 29.7
    NICK SHULTZ 29.7
    MARKFRASER 29.9
    JUSTINSCHULTZ 30.8
    ANDREWFERENCE 31.4

    I think this is also the type of subtle play that someone logging “mistakes” misses too.

    Staples is always ready to give out his pluses and minuses for offensive and defensive plays, but I think that method ignores the rest of the game when there isn’t a scoring chance.

    Its not like the players are just pitching nickels against the boards until the puck goes into the ozone.

    Breaking up a play at the blue line that negates an entry is just as important as any other defensive play.

    It may be even more important because a denied entry leads to 0 shot attempts against, and as we know from Tyler’s work when there’s one Shot Attempt against, there is a high probability that others will follow..

  28. dawgbone says:

    Hammers,

    Dubnyk never faced that issue. He played games in the ECHL, backed up JDD in Springfield (sole affiliate), and then started for Springfield.

    You can make the argument JDD might have been screwed, but he never played well enough at any point to warrant being the starting goalie on an AHL team.

  29. RexLibris says:

    Woodguy,

    Seconded.

    I’d have loved to have seen Huddy or Gregg’s Corsi rates and Zone Entries prevented.

  30. Cameron says:

    supernova:

    I know in Calgary they are almost completely writing off Sven. Is this the level we should expect if they don’t hit the NHL right away?

    I’d say you are overstating things by suggesting Calgary is ‘writing off’ Baertschi. We’re just all too blinded by the awesomeness that is Sen Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau to worry too much about Sven.

  31. RexLibris says:

    This is Baertschi’s make-or-break season in Calgary, in my opinion.

    I think there may be a player there, but he came along at a bad time and suffered from being seen as the “lone beacon of hope” for a season or two before Monahan and Bennett.

    He’s probably best suited as a scoring winger on a deep team, but I’m not sure he’ll reach the Havlat/Hemsky tier of individual offensive threat.

  32. supernova says:

    Cameron: I’d say you are overstating things by suggesting Calgary is ‘writing off’ Baertschi. We’re just all too blinded by the awesomeness that is Sen Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau to worry too much about Sven.

    Cameron,

    “Write off”

    The last comment I personally heard on Calgary sports radio the host said
    “I expect Sven gone by trade deadline” can’t remember who he was interviewing but the response was “agreed, unless he has drastically changed his game, he isn’t a fit on a rebuild
    Navigated by Burke and Company”

    Sounds like a write off to me.

    I understand the host doesn’t speak for everyone but many probably hold this same view .

  33. supernova says:

    RexLibris,

    Yes, agreed I wander if the Pens and flames hook up on a trade.

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