What We Know & Don’t Know

Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photography. All rights reserved.

It seems that the Oklahoma City Barons postseason roster is beginning to come together. With the Oilers leaving Linus Omark on the farm, assigning Anton Lander last week, and today announcing that they are shipping Magnus Paajarvi south, the March 5th clear day roster might be intact a week early. The clear day roster is that moment in the minor leagues where the postseason rosters are fully set. Little wiggle room (minus injury & emergency) is given in the postseason so that the playing pool is slightly more even with many NHL teams out of postseason play. I think fans at both levels in the Oilers organization assumed that these three would be on the AHL roster to finish the season, but perhaps not this soon. It will also mark the first time these three have been on the roster together in OKC. The obvious point being; that is a whole lotta NHL talent tucked away in an already talented AHL team.

The sad and likely story that comes out of this will be the bottom end of the roster. The clear day roster, once again needs to be in place March 5th at 3 EST, can only contain 22 players. As it stands the Barons have roster spots taken by 16 forwards, 9 defenders, and 2 goaltenders. That’s a whopping 27 players, 5 of which will be left out. A painful sight for a few players who’ve toiled away the entire season in Oklahoma City.

What We Know

+2 SPOTS – We know without a shadow of a doubt that David LeNeveu and Yann Danis are your goaltenders.

+3 SPOTS – We know Linus Omark, Anton Lander and Magnus Paajarvi will be on that list.

+4 SPOTS – Ryan Keller, Philippe Cornet, Teemu Hartikainen, and Triston Grant are substantial positionally.

+2 SPOTS – They’ll ride three true centermen in addition to Anton Lander. Those would be Josh Green, Mark Arcobello, and Chris VandeVelde.

-1 SPOTS – Andrew Lord continues to be plagued with concussion like symptoms, is getting better, but probably won’t            hold a postseason roster spot.

+5 SPOTS – The “givens” on defense are Alex Plante, Colten Teubert, Bryan Helmer, Taylor Chorney and newcomer Bryan Rodney.

That’s 16 roster spots guaranteed. Then things get a tad fuzzy.

What We Don’t Know

That leaves at least a few deep pairing defenders, a smattering of rookies, and a few others.

Kevin Montgomery, Dang Ringwald, Dylan Yeo and Kirill Tulupov are the remaining defenders. Of this bunch, three are better puck movers, one is a muscle guy. I continue to think that maybe Tulupov is the odd man out given his role over the last couple of months. The other might be Dan Ringwald who became a gap-filler in the early parts of the season when callups to Edmonton began, but has played very very well. That leaves Kevin Montgomery and Dylan Yeo. I like Montgomery in this battle more than Yeo. But it depends on how many defenders they’ll ride with.

The offense is even more confusing. Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, Hunter Tremblay, Tanner House, and Antti Tyrvainen are the remaining forwards. All are in their rookie seasons as North American pros. Antti is nearly gifted a spot because he’s a strong defensive player. But the same case could be made for Tremblay and House. Pitlick and Hamilton are guys that can do a lot of things. Strong on the boards, strong on the puck, scoring ability – they have the full package. Yet could their slightly slow rookie seasons keep them from playing in the Calder Cup playoffs? Maybe.

In the end a few are going to get the short straw and really that’s too bad. As excited as I am to have the “NHL guys” around it makes equally as bummed knowing that a core player we’ve come to love all season sits for what could be a defining moment in their early careers.

There is still a ton of hockey to be played before that time. The herd could naturally thin itself with injuries and other situations. So my thoughts on the matter could change even as quickly as this weekend. For now I’ll hope for the best, trust the coaching staff to continue picking the right crew, and cheer hard for an incredible forthcoming postseason.