The Oklahoma City Barons embarked on a new chapter in the 2012-13 season as they played their first game without some pretty important NHL players. The lockout, ending today via a tentative agreement, also meant that typical NHL players were returned to their team’s camps ASAP. This included, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and soon to be full-time NHLer, rookie Justin Schultz.
Speculation as to whom would play in Chicago this afternoon for the Barons began to waggle through my mind. It was bound to be interesting, and indeed it was. Dubbed “goulash” by Coach Nelson, here is how the forward lines looked, as well as the defensive pairs. It involved basically any and all available players, and there was a spot to spare.
Josh Green-Mark Arcobello-Teemu Hartikainen
Magnus Paajarvi-Anton Lander-Tyler Pitlick
Dane Byers-Chris VandeVelde-Curtis Hamilton
???-Tanner House-Erick Lizon
Nathan Deck-Colten Teubert
Martin Marincin-Alex Plante
Kane Lafranchise-Taylor Fedun
Nelson, who was forthright in mentioning how quickly this team dissipated, took the whole situation in stride. Even made adjustments mid-game that saw several players moving between linemates.
Nonetheless, the Barons would lose to the Chicago Wolves 6-3.
The first period was highlighted by really good play by both squads. 18 shots for Chicago and 16 for Oklahoma City, it appeared we were in for a treat. Josh Green, who’s struggled since returning from an early season rib injury, scored the opening goal. Just his third of the season, Green seemed lifted by the play of fellow linemates, Mark Arcobello and Teemu Hartikainen. But as the period wore on, Chicago would get two of their own. Andrew Gordon and Derek Joslin netted back to back goals that would see the first twenty end with a 2-1 Chicago lead.
In the second set, each team would score on the power play. First up was Houston’s Brad Hunt, followed by OKC’s Josh Green. This would be the lone power play goal for both clubs, as the penalties seemed to be low in this dual. The second period ended with a 3-2 Chicago lead.
Teemu Hartikainen would score his eleventh of the year, with an assist from Josh Green, as the Barons inched their way back into a tie game. But the Wolves would turn the tide even more in their favor in the third period, scoring three consecutive goals including an empty netter to defeat Oklahoma City, 6-3.
The obvious story line here is the forward groups. Arcobello remains as top line center flanked by Green and Hartikainen. Hard to argue with this. One could have made a case that Green returned to center, with Arcobello on the wing, but it was not meant to be. And actually, this line produced tonight. But also realize that despite the absence of the NHL crew, it was only the top scoring line that continued to produce. Interesting.
Tyler Pitlick had a fantastic opening period to my eyes. He had at least one really strong scoring chance that he created, and was very pesky around the boards. He tapered off a bit as the game went on, but I was happy to see him return to the postseason 2012 Tyler Pitlick.
Danis, was, well Danis. Played well enough for the game not to be over prior to the third period, and did some remarkable things even late with a multi-goal lead by the Wolves. For now, outside of some speculation from various folks, it appears that Danis stays put. If so, that’s good news for OKC.
Teemu Hartikainen and Magnus Paajarvi are likely candidates for Oilers camp in the coming week. Their absence will, again, really cause some heartburn for Oklahoma City. Top scoring line is gone. Second scoring line is gone. Things get really crazy for a while. Which brings me to my next point.
The Barons will harvest the Stockton Thunder as the Oilers have harvested the Oklahoma City Barons. Eric Hunter, Philippe Cornet, Toni Rajala probably already have their tickets punched for a Delta flight to OKC. Maybe add Teigan Zahn to that list. Suddenly the Barons start to put together a full roster. But there still is room for one or two more. Do the Barons dig through players currently not signed to teams or do they try to dig deep into the ECHL? Either way, the roster you saw Saturday vs. Sunday vs. Next Weekend is vastly different from the one any of us dreamed we’d see.
Interesting quotes pieced together from Mike Baldwin at the Daily Oklahoman:
Other Barons expected to be invited to Edmonton’s training camp include: forwards Teemu Hartikainen, Magnus Paajarvi and Chris VandeVelde and defenseman Colten Teubert. Forwards Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander might be invited.
In addition to the Fab Four, Hartikainen, possibly Teubert, might stick with Edmonton when the Oilers open the regular season.
To fill roster spots, the Barons are expected to recall forwards Tony Rajala, Philippe Cornet and Ryan Martindale from Stockton in the ECHL, possibly defenseman Taylor Zahn, who has played in OKC this season.
Scott also will try to sign a few free agents, whether it’s players that sign two-way contracts with Edmonton/Oklahoma City or sign AHL-only deals.
“We’ve had our eyes on a lot of different guys in the ECHL and Central Hockey League as well as guys over in Europe,” Scott said. “We’re going to do everything we can to find the best players still available to maintain and upgrade our defense.”
The Oilers have always had a soft spot for CVV. Two years ago, he nearly made the squad in camp, but was sent down to Oklahoma City. Perhaps they see some value in his closing role, but you have to wonder how much more they need to see. Also on Baldwin’s list is Magnus Paajarvi whom will likely be in a race with Teemu Hartikainen for a roster spot. I’d sway those votes towards Teemu who gives the toughness package deeper in the lineup that the Oilers will need.
Lots of things forthcoming from OKC. Plenty of news, and thoughts right here at Tend the Farm on all those matters. Stay tuned in.