Scouting The Enemy – Sergei Andronov, Peoria Rivermen

Photo courtesy of RussianProspects.com. All rights reserved.

Announced two weeks ago, the Peoria Rivermen signed the St. Louis #78 draft pick of 2009, Sergei Andronov, to a one-year AHL contract. What’s surprising about this late summer grab is that Andronov seemingly had no interest in North American hockey, and never quite was able to erase question marks about his skill set to make the jump across the pond. Yet suddenly, he finds himself in a one-year show-and-tell of sorts with very little promise of playing in the bigs in the immediate future. So the Rivermen of Peoria get a solid player, but the signing doesn’t appear to be a depth chart move by the parent club in St. Louis. So what does he bring to the table in terms of American League potential?

Peoria, now playing in the Midwest Division if the Western Conference has always been a thorn in the side of the Oklahoma City Barons. Perhaps their defensive styles, and no-wiggle-room ways are too similar. Or maybe the divisional separation lends itself to unfamiliarity. Either way, in short doses, a rivalry has brewed between the two teams that quite frankly, not many saw coming. And again, the teams will only meet twice during the upcoming season (Early December and late March), but prepare yourself for two healthy battles.

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AHL Broadcast Update

via Chris Botta, Sporting News

For its part, the American Hockey League is poised to help fill any game-action void for fans. The AHL has a deal in place with Sportsnet in Canada to broadcast an additional slate of games if NHL games are canceled. It also has begun discussions with NBC Sports Network and several RSNs about replacement broadcasts. Still, AHL commissioner David Andrews said his league hopes the NHL resolves its labor issues soon.

“While there may be a short-term bump for our league,” Andrews said, “there’s no question that the NHL playing is more important to us. It’s the best league in the world, and we are partners in the development of players and in the growth of the sport.”

According to Andrews, the AHL did see attendance gains during the 2004-05 lockout, especially in regions close to NHL markets. “We had a higher quality of competition,” Andrews said, noting that future NHL stars such as Eric Staal, Jason Spezza and Dustin Brown played in the AHL while their rookie NHL seasons were postponed by the lockout. “Marquee names attract media coverage and fans.”

Monday Mumble: It’s A Bad Time To Be A Hockey Fan In Oklahoma

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

I can’t help but sigh. I feel like these Monday Mumble’s have become all about the dreadful things in hockey. Moaning about lockouts, watered down hockey, and AHL teams desperately seeking attention have gotten the best of my psyche. I just want to eat gallons of Americone Dream, sit in my La-Z-Boy, and wait for the GREAT State Fair of Oklahoma to arrive (Wow, that sounds really terrible minus the Americone Dream). And so today won’t be any different. Because it’s a bad time to be a hockey fan in Oklahoma.

Before you channel your inner Hulk and send me a disparaging twitter message, let me take a stab at explaining. We have an AHL team! That in, and of itself, is a huge deal. We also have a very good AHL team. Good coaching and headsy prospects are entertaining to say the least. But it’s also a time in the history of Oklahoma City where things are getting crowded in the Fall around these parts, but are also legitimately better products than ice, sweat, and Teemu’s biceps (oh the horror!).

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BBG&CS: Sooners, Stars, Scott & Sault Ste. Marie

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

“While the Stars have not had many opportunities to garner blue-chip prospects, the amount of quality depth in the organization is top-notch and impressive. They may have less future number-one defensemen and franchise forwards than another team, but GM Joe Nieuwendyk could easily challenge most of the league’s clubs in terms of future top-six forwards and NHL-caliber defensemen.” – via Hockey’s Future

“This 2012-2013 season marks the 10th season of ACHA Sooner hockey. Nine of those years at the Division I level, their first year in the league starting at Division II. The Sooners enjoyed a quick and early success on the ice, making the ACHA Nationals tournament in their third year. This past season was the 7th consecutive trip. They may have not yet won the coveted Murdoch Cup, but everyone in and around the ACHA, not to mention wearing a crimson and cream jersey, fully expect this year to be THE year. Especially after such a disappointing, very hotly contested and controversial loss to Penn St. The Sooners will face Penn St. at the end of the regular season this year, but since Penn has moved up into the NCAA, OU will not have to worry about being cheated of a national title again.” – via Puckchk

The Artful Puck blog has a pretty solid multi-part interview with Barons GM, Bill Scott this week. Check it out! Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

“Hockey continues to grow by leaps and bounds across the United States. At this year’s NHL Draft, left wing Nicolas Kerdiles joined fellow forward Emerson Etem as the second player from Southern California to be selected by the Anaheim Ducks. Late last season, New York Islanders defenseman Matt Donovan became the first player from Oklahoma to reach the NHL, just a couple of months before the Stanley Cup Final featured two American-born captains for the first time in history.” – via NHL.com

“Everything from geographical to us having Detroit’s farm team in our division, so that’s kinda cool. It’s not that is how they align the divisions, but it just makes sense. Charlotte is a great stop, and we still get to go there once, but it doesn’t make sense to have them in the Midwest Division. It’s not fair to them and their fans, and not like Houston, San Antonio, Texas and Oklahoma City are any closer than Chicago, Peoria and Milwaukee are, but it’s hard to boast a rivalry with Rockford or Peoria when you are in Charlotte, N.C. It’s a work in progress, and the league is playing the hand they are dealt, and it worked last year. Charlotte has to travel regardless, and it makes sense to have them hit the teams in that area and knock off three to four games at a time. Now, it makes even more sense the way we have it.” – via Rock River Times

“Omark was offered a new deal by the Oilers, but it was two-way and for minimal money to play in Oklahoma City if he didn’t make the NHL club. “Linus’s goal is still to play in the National Hockey League,” his agent Kevin Epp said Wednesday. “If there’s going to be a work stoppage (NHL), he wants to play somewhere, and he felt it was best to get to a team right now and to play a lot.”” – via Canada.com

“The Oklahoma City Barons and SMG are creating new menus for the Blue Line Club at the Barons games. Since the menus are being re-made, fans have the opportunity to assist us in picking names for some of the dishes available during the games.” – via OKC Barons

“Morin said he also learned much from Team Canada coaches, which included head coach Gerry Fleming, an assistant coach with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons, and Wally Kozak, who won gold with the national women’s hockey team.” – via Sault Star

[box type=”note”]You know that place in The Daily Oklahoman? The one between Big Game & Club Soccer? That’s where you may find some Barons coverage. For the rest of the news, check out BBG&CS every weekend. [/box]

AHL on NBC? Maybe

Chris Botta, of the New York Times, has had his hands in the business side of hockey for years. And through the most recent offseason he’s had a keen eye on what is taking place between the players, owners, and the entire National Hockey League. A reliable source, in most circumstances, and a great follow on twitter simply because he talks business, Botta mentioned something very interesting today. Especially interesting for those anxious to find a replacement follow this Fall if the NHL does indeed lockout its players.

What’s noteworthy about this statement isn’t that negotiations are occurring, we’d expect that given the NBC Sports commitment to hockey when the world chooses to ignore it. Rather the how and when of it all I find intriguing.

For starters, who backs an AHL on NBC Sports package? The big advertising players, whom have already been a little hesitant to buy into the marketing plan of NBC Sports, might be hesitant to back a minor league deal. And for how long? Does the AHL agree to something short term and flexible or merely demand a half season sked regardless of the length of the lockout? I can’t imagine a sponsor finding that appealing. Again, the AHL has only begun to investigate this opportunity. So in a week we might be hearing a completely different song and dance.

The other advertising component to a broadcast deal is what it can mean for local organizations. Imagine the opportunity for your dash ads or on-ice ads to be seen by the masses via a national audience on NBC Sports. That’s huge, even in the smallest of markets. A Devon Energy, Love’s Travel Store, or Chesapeake Energy might salivate knowing that they can get some attention throughout North America. But the question remains, will they have time to approach local advertisers if a deal is done? Probably not.

This will be worth watching over the next couple of days as the September 15th renewal deadline (now 11 days away) rapidly approaches. Here’s hoping the AHL seizes opportunities that are now present that maybe weren’t present in the earlier lockouts.

BBG&CS: AHL Youth, Swiss Omark, & Tee Cannon

Photo courtesy of Steven Christy. All rights reserved.
Work that cannon, JOSH!
Photo courtesy of Steven Christy. All rights reserved.

“After two years with pretty minimal offensive impact – and even allowing for the low ice-time totals – it’s probably fair to wonder how much offence Klefbom will bring with him when he comes to North America.” via Cult of Hockey

“Marincin does have outstanding hands, especially impressive when you consider they’re attached to a stick that can reach the far blueline. His reach is a major asset in both offensive and defensive situations, and those hands will make a sharp breakout pass or lift an opponent’s stick and dispossess him as easy as a frog catching a fly. His positional play is still a work in progress, and in limited viewings I’ve found his response to emergency situations leaving me cold at times. Some of that stuff can be learned, and OKC is just the place to learn it.” – via Cult of Hockey

“We looked for the best players available at their position,” Arvanitis said. “We got bigger, quicker and I think it showed on the ice.” – via The Oklahoma Daily

“So, Lander, Petrell, Paajarvi and Hartikainen could end up in the minors? Sure. And VandeVelde or Green and Byers or Tyrvainen in the NHL? I’m saying there’s a chance.” – via Lowetide

“For the AHL, based on current rosters for the upcoming season for 2012-13 from Elite Prospects, the Hershey Bears ranks as the “oldest” AHL team with an average age of 24.82, and the youngest team is the Hamilton Bulldogs with an average of 22.17. The OKC Barons rank number 15 with an average age of 23.45.” – via Artful Puck

Maybe he’s a hidden gem? I imagine that’s why Columbus traded for him, and of course the Blue Jackets are Death Valley for hockey players. So, maybe….What if he has a very good season in OKC? Oilers might sign him and flush Eager. But I don’t think that happens until at least the deadline, as mentioned above.” – via Lowetide

“Harris says the Virginia Beach and Richmond areas would be combined to create a 3 million person designated market area. Although Virginia Beach and Richmond are about 100 miles apart, Harris said that’s similar to the distance between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, home to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.” – via Fox11

“Omark’s time in Edmonton unfortunately coincided too closely with management’s decision to burn the team to the ground and start fresh by rebuilding through the draft. With that plan in place Omark found himself competing for time and space alongside much more highly touted players when he arrived in Edmonton. There are only so many choice assignments and easy minutes to go around and Omark wasn’t going to be the player to get them. Basically, he got here at the wrong time and was a victim of numbers.” – via Copper And Blue

“Weal and Marincin were high NHL draft picks in 2010 – the Edmonton Oilers selected Marincin in the second round and Weal went in the third round to the Los Angeles Kings. Both are 20 years old and have signed NHL contracts, thus they’re eligible to play in the minors this season. Neither player will attend Regina’s training camp as they prepare to join their respective AHL clubs – Weal with the Manchester Monarchs and Marincin with the Oklahoma City Barons.” – via Leader Post