The trade deadline is always a little strange for those that follow a minor league team with major league ties. There are times that the moves being made in the minors are harmless. They merely are minor leaguer for minor leaguer, and typically are similar in value both ways. These are harmless because, outside of team morale, they don’t boil down to anything more than minor hiccups in the season. However, there are moments where the trades amongst minor league teams are strange, potentially lopsided, and merely confusing. Thus goes the saga of the quick and surprising move of Ryan O’Marra to Syracuse with defenseman Bryan Rodney coming to Oklahoma City.
O’Marra, the strong PK centerman with some NHL decency, has been an Oiler for a long time as well as being an important role player for the minor league Oklahoma City Barons the last two seasons. This year in particular he’s been one of the lone reasons why the Barons have one of the best AHL penalty kill groups in the league. He, along with Tanner House and Hunter Tremblay, has become a dynamic killing formation with a heavy presence on the face-off dot at important moments in games.
For defender Rodney, his game is completely different for obvious positional reasons. A scoring defender with a good shot, and good puck moving skills. Playing for the Syracuse Crunch, he’s a point gobbler with a smidge of NHL experience, and a not-so-nice +/- for several seasons in a row.
Both had expiring contracts at the end of this season. My thoughts on the swap is hardly glowing. O’Marra would have been a nice minor league asset to have as the Calder Cup playoffs begun. Remember how important the grinders were in last year’s first round against Hamilton? Stortini anyone? No way that series goes 7 rounds without a guy like that.
O’Marra plays on the best AHL team for more than half of the season, works his tail off, plays a few games for the Oilers, but gets shipped off to Syracuse who may or may not string together a finale that gets them into the post season.
Rodney gets a major upgrade. He had this to say (via the Syracuse Post Standard) about the current situation with the Crunch,
“I’m hoping for a fresh start there,” Rodney said. “Obviously, it wasn’t going well for us in Syracuse. I had a bad feeling from training camp with the way the organization was run. I’m not trying to sound negative. You were on your own from the get-go. You just never knew where you stood. It was just run a lot differently than I’ve ever seen before. It just wasn’t the right environment for me.”
Although he was producing points, he was giving up way too much defensively. Those whom have seen him play had this to say,
SoCal twitterer @DropTheGloves2:
@JonathanWillis @tweetneal Rodney looked terrible in the Ducks training camp, and wasn’t a top 2 D in Syracuse.
“You watch these guys play now, and you can see sparks of potential again. The energy is there. The drive appears to be brought back (unless your name is Dan Sexton). But then Yawney lets Bryan Rodney onto the ice, and everything falls apart.”
“A few games ago, the Crunch lost in OT after Bryan Rodney stepped aside and allowed free reign at a rather rusty Jeff Deslauriers. Everyone in the building knew the game was over as soon as they saw that Rodney was our last line of defense, and sure enough the Crunch went home crying.”
Not a glowing review. So the trade seems a little lopsided despite the ability to compare them positionally.
Yet what the Barons needed was not another so-so puck mover who can score. The OKC philosophy of defense first, open offense second has worked beautifully up until this point. And perhaps Rodney gets good, perhaps he surprises and gives a different edge to the team that they were lacking. On paper I’m not sold.
After one game, and a loss by the Barons, Bryan Rodney was forgettable. Registering a -1 in his first period with his new team. Overall, it wasn’t a very impressive Barons hockey club we saw on the ice on Friday. However, it was the defensive portion of the game that was lumpy. PK was fine, goaltending not Danis-like, but the defense was very sluggish. Paired with another vet puck mover in Bryan Helmer, Rodney nabbed top two like minutes.
There could be more going on here than we actually can see at this point. For instance, perhaps the trade of O’Marra for Rodney means that another puck mover is on the way out. Taylor Chorney, also ending his contract this summer, is similar in play to that of Bryan Rodney, but with more credibility. Was the first Barons trade of the season an attempt to replace a future player? But the real question to ask is who gets bundled in that Chorney deal? Because it would be odd to simply trade for a defensive puck mover when you have several better ones on your squad. Lots of moving parts and speculation in this scenario, and with the NHL trade deadline quickly approaching the full peripheral of this particular decision might become a little less fuzzy. In the meantime, let’s keep any eye on Rodney vs. O’Marra and how they impact their new teams. Until then…I’m skeptical.