The Bakersfield Condors are 3-2-0 so far this season and coming off strong showings last weekend against the Ontario Reign. Tonight and tomorrow the Condors will play at home against the Stockton Heat—a more substantial opponent. Bakersfield is averaging 2.2 goals for and 2.6 goals against this year, while the Heat are running 3.86-3.00. This will be a big test.
- The Condors need a skill center for Jesse Puljujarvi. Josh Currie has real ability as an AHL player but last season Anton Lander was part of the mix. No Anton Lander is playing tonight. This is damned important and that doesn’t change just because no one is talking about it.
- Joey Laleggia is a possible recall option, a good way to keep track is offensive output. So far this year he has had an impact (four points in five games) and we’ll wait to see if he can sustain a nice start.
- Brad Malone impressed in his quick NHL look (three games) and could return to the Oilers in the coming days. A strong showing in Bakersfield will keep him top of mind with management in Edmonton.
- I’m interested in seeing Joe Gambardella’s role and whether or not he moves up. I think he might be the best candidate for Puljujariv’s center.
- Ethan Bear is off to a dandy start with four points in five AHL games. He ranks No. 4 in points by defensemen but has some games in hand over those ahead of him.
- Caleb Jones and Ryan Mantha are playing together again this weekend, Condors lack of experience (there are some injured hands like Keegan Lowe and Mark Fayne) making this necessary. It’s been a struggle so far, we’ll see how these two men do against a pretty good Stockton hockey team.
- Ziyat Paigin and Ben Betker are looking to impress, if they can show well one or both may stay inside the top 6D when the injured men return.
Tonight marks the end of Tyler Benson’s long rehab and the return to regular season action. He’ll suit up for the Vancouver Giants this evening and I’ll post updates on his progress throughout the evening in the comments section. Incredibly, Benson isn’t the final Oilers prospect to play a regular season game this year. John Marino and his Harvard squad start their season on Sunday. Of note, Philip Kemp begins his NCAA career this evening with Yale University. Updates on all through the evening.