Oklahoma City Recalls Nathan Deck From Stockton

AHL Hockey: Jan 31 Barons vs Checkers
Photo by Steven Christy.

Announced today, the Oklahoma City Barons have recalled defenseman Nathan Deck from the Stockton Thunder. Deck, who signed a full fledged two-way AHL contract, was sent to the ECHL in the end of February. This, at the time, was a curious move, mainly because OKC was willing to shed his PTO, sign him to an AHL contract, and promptly demote him after being an integral puck mover for the team for much of the season (including during the lockout).

There are three reasons for this recall – one a bit more “real” than the other two. Let’s start with the oddballs first.

Perhaps his recall points to a subsequent recall of a Baron to the Oilers. But that almost necessitates that someone on the NHL club has been injured (or more than one). Thus a guy like Colten Teubert (gasp), Alex Plante (gasp gasp), or Martin Marincin (gasp spit gag) are heading to Edmonton to fill a spot. I don’t see that being too likely, but it’s not entirely out of the scope of the imagination.

Perhaps the team (Edmonton that is) will be making a move soon, and it involves a minor league player. Could be. But who moves defensively that necesitates a Deck recall? The answer – virtually no one. So that moves us to the logical conclusion.

With Brett Clark gone, and Randy Jones dinged up a bit, the Barons need a puck mover asap. They went 0 for 6 on the power play last Tuesday against Rochester, and it was apparent that Clark’s absence was going to throw a monkey wrench into the QB spot on the PP. Andrew Hotham just isn’t getting it done. Nathan Deck is capable of doing that. THIS scenario makes the most sense, and thus we will probably see Deck in the lineup as soon as Friday/Saturday rolls around. And that’s the right move to make.

Official Release:

The Oklahoma City Barons recalled defenseman Nathan Deck from the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL, Barons General Manager Bill Scott announced today.

Deck, 22, joined the Barons in early December and had an immediate impact, recording an assist on his first shift of his first AHL game. He signed a standard American Hockey League contract on February 19. With the Barons, he has scored six points (1-5-6) in 25 games.

With Stockton this season, the 5-11, 185-pounder from Sedley, Saskatchewan has recorded 22 points (7-15-22). Over two seasons with the Thunder he has scored 48 points (14-34-48) in 88 games.

Prior to turning pro, Deck played four full seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League. In 272 games over those four seasons, he scored 118 points (22-96-118).

Late Game Struggles Continue As Amerks Defeat Barons In OT

Rochester Americans vs. Oklahoma City Barons 3-19-13
Good to have these two back together. Photo by Rob Ferguson

Developing a solid game plan necessitates that your team understands first and foremost that hockey games are a full sixty minutes. Failing to “buy in” to this idea rarely ends well for players, and leaves coaches to pull their hair out. As maddening as it seems, the Oklahoma City Barons continue to have a propensity for playing half to three fourths of games, rather than a full cup. And perhaps most teams could get away with it, but when your defensive core is young, relying on them to protect-a-lead will only leave you snake bitten. (Scoring on the power play also helps)

On a rare Tuesday night home game for OKC, the Rochester Americans would expose the late game struggles of the Baron, kill all six Barons PP chances, push the contest to a shootout, and escape with the much coveted two points. OKC earned one, but man oh man, did they need two.

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Workin’ For The Weekend (Tuesday Edition): Raw-Chester “You Dropped A Bomb On Me”

Droppin' bombs since the early 70's.
Droppin’ bombs since the early 70’s.

You certainly could call it electro-funk. Or perhaps you might want to claim that it’s long past its expiration date. “Disco is dead, funk is gone!” you would shout from the rooftops. You wouldn’t be wrong, but you’d also not be my friend (but I can forgive). The classic funk trio that seemed to peak much later than you’dve hoped, somehow blossomed into a memorable band that stole the hearts of elementary kiddos of the 80’s. Party music at its finest.

The Gap Band, consisting of three brothers Charlie, Robert and Ronnie Wilson, were laid back charmers from, of all places, Tulsa, Oklahoma. But they were much more than that. On the surface they indeed reared back and casually spent hours recording magical dance anthems, but deep down they were in touch with cultural change that went unnoticed by most. Like soul, funk, and reggae acts of the same generation, The Gap Band knew how to have fun while teaching you a few things about heartache, struggle, change, and opinion.

“You Dropped A Bomb On Me”, single number fourteen of the entire 38 in the catalog, positions itself as one of the truly memorable songs of the early 80’s. The whistling bomb, it’s crash landing, the rubber-bandy Wilson vocal gymnastic – it’s magical music. They mixed funk, soul, dance, and funk again into one giant ball of movement. And anything that gets you out from behind your desk at 2:30pm on a Tuesday afternoon, and dancing, is worth the investment. Thanks guys.

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Eric Hunter Reassignment, Squeezing In Lander & Eager

As expected, the Barons announced this afternoon that Eric Hunter has been reassigned to the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. The versatile forward, who played wing and center in OKC, was a pretty viable option for the Barons in recent weeks. With Kristians Pelss absent from the second line due to injury, the Barons promoted Hunter into that spot in the lineup. And he played some hard minutes, alongside Toni Rajala who really benefitted from Hunter’s playmaking tendencies.

Although not a huge point snatcher (one goal, eleven games), he was able to protect some minor discrepancies on the ice whenRajala, and other newcomer, C.J. Stretch, hung themselves out to dry. And this alone made Hunter a really important defensive forward role player. Hard to find a stat for how useful that quality is in a callup.

He’ll be missed. He’ll be back. But with his departure comes two arrivals.

Ben Eager and Anton Lander will both be on the ice tomorrow night for the game against Rochester. Coach Nelson, via his radio show this evening, made it perfectly clear that both would play, and that Stretch will be the healthy scratch. And this has me pondering the direction of both players.

Hunter and Stretch have made up two thirds of the Barons most recent second line. I assumed that the team would elect to place Lander back on that line where he previously rolled with Pelss and Rajala. But with Pelss still recovering from a leg injury, will they consider giving Ben Eager the second line treatment? Maybe. But there’s also many pieces that could rightly fall into that space as well. Antti Tyrvainen, Curtis Hamilton, Dane Byers – all candidates. But fully realizing that there is a propensity for Coach Nelson to “please the boss” (which is how the cookie crumbles, so to speak) I wouldn’t be shocked to see Eager playing with Rajala and Lander. I’ve said it at least one hundred times this season – bizarre. Likely not the last time I write that word in 2013.

Scouted By Duane Sutter, Kendall McFaull Signs PTO With OKC

Kendall McFaull5710
Photo courtesy of WHL

Various sites with reliable information have reported that Kendal McFaull, of the Moose Jaw Warriors, has signed a PTO with the Oklahoma City Barons that extends through the remainder of the season. And apparently it’s been a contract in the making for some time now. Scouted by the Edmonton Oilers, and more specifically Duane Sutter, Kendal opened up to writer Marc Smith. Here are the highlights (read the full interview):

Warriors’ captain Kendall McFaull signed a professional try-out contract with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons on Thursday and will report to the team after the Warriors season ends this weekend.

“It’s a standard player contract for the remainder of this season, so I have a month, or two months, to prove myself and then after that, I’m back to being a free agent and have to earn myself another contract,” stated McFaull.

The deal had apparently been in the works for a couple of months with the Edmonton Oilers scouting the overage defenceman throughout this season.

“Duane Sutter, who scouts for the Oilers, had been watching me a bit and I had a meeting with him about a month and a half ago,” McFaull explained. “He said that he liked the way I played and I had made his sort list, but it was out of his hands and up to the Oilers’ brass to make a decision.”

He goes on to discuss the duration with which he waited, and how the Oilers communicated directly to the former Atlanta Thrasher draft pick:

The NHL team liked what they saw and gave McFaull a call to come finish off the season with the Barons. “I hadn’t heard anything for a while, so I wasn’t sure if the opportunity was still there, I was hoping, but also getting geared up to go to school and then my agent said there was an opportunity to go play in OKC and I jumped all over it,” said the Rosetown native.

“It was a long time coming, I would have liked to have had something done a bit sooner, but better late than never,” said McFaull, who was orig

What’s interesting is the left-field nature of a guy like McFaull, who clearly has a bit of leadership tendency that most NHL clubs are looking for. He mentions briefly in the interview that he credits most of his success to playing alongside Morgan Rielly, a defensive prospect that perks many ears. But more than anything, it’s interesting to get a bit of an insider tip on how the Oilers scout, how they communicate, and how they scrounge together useful prospects. He’s a four year WHL guy coming off his best season in that league – 5-15-20. This is an interesting catch, and I’m anxious to see how he pans out. We’ll likely know soon enough.

With Points At A Premium, Barons Take Two Against Rampage

With standing points at a premium for virtually every team in the American Hockey League, the Oklahoma City Barons were needing at least two more (with some help) to jump to the head of the every-spinning carousel of “playoff spots”. It seemed that they’d again get a dogfight from fellow point chaser, San Antonio, but eventually they’d seal the deal in a shootout. Recording their third shootout victory of the month of March. Games are getting close down the stretch, and the Barons are slowly starting to win them. That’s a good sign.

A scoreless first period began with a furious first shift from Josh Green, Chris VandeVelde, and Dane Byers. It was tough, punishing, and stout – everything the Barons seemingly want to do against the Rampage early. But at the tail end of their shift, San Antonio gave it right back. The teams would go back and forth, back and forth for much of the quickened first twenty minutes. The Barons would give away only two first period power play chances, and they’d kill them both. But it was the power play that struggled early. Two opportunities at a man advantage, and another with a full two things proved to be undone by the pesky Rampage, and their strong goaltender, Dov Grumet-Morris. And both teams would complete the opening twenty without a goal.

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On Brett Clark To Wild, Consistency, & Missed Opportunities

AHL Hockey: Feb 22 Barons vs Aeros
Photo by Steven Christy.

Oklahoma City Barons GM, Bill Scott, knew that the greatest need within the minor league organization was consistency. More importantly consistency in all areas. The offense would likely come given the nice pieces that were already with the team, even in a post-lockout world. The goaltending would be slightly altered from time to time, but that wasn’t necessarily the weakest link. The Barons already had vets like Dane Byers and Josh Green, but even they struggled to capture consistent pacing in all facets of the game. That’s where Brett Clark came in.

The elder statesman had plenty of NHL and AHL time. He led teams deep into seasons. But more than anything he was a leader. A leader with lots of intangibles.

Today, reports are circulating that he’s signed with the Minnesota Wild for the purposes of playing in the NHL in a deep pairing role.

Via the Star Tribune:

The Wild has signed veteran defenseman Brett Clark to a one-year deal, NHL sources say. He will be in town today to take his physical. If he passes, he will join the Wild tomorrow.

For a guy who wasn’t on many NHL radars in January, he’s has spent nearly one and a half months earning his right to be a major leaguer. That speaks a lot to who he is as a player, and as a person.

Great PK guy. Played QB on the power play. Protected Taylor Fedun somewhat by counteracting his youngster tendencies in defensive situations. Great passer. Sharp thinker. Team leader. For a defensive minded team, like the Wild, to want a guy like Clark, you know he’s got the skillset needed to fit well within their scheme. He’s also someone that could have played good minutes with the Oilers, but that wasn’t meant to be. Too crowded? Not enough contract space? Perhaps considering a different move? All likely reasons as to why the Oil wouldn’t jump on his bandwagon.

Personnel wise, Randy Jones will hopefully piggy back on what Clark started, and continue to lead defensively and perhaps where his team needs him most in the coming month or two. And he’s starting to move that direction.

Good luck to you, Brett. We enjoyed you in Oklahoma City. We look forward to seeing you play on an HD screen in the immediate future.

UPDATE:

via Barons GM, Bill Scott

When Brett chose to sign in Oklahoma City we agreed that if he was to receive a NHL offer that he felt was worth pursuing we would release him from his contract,” said Scott. “Brett has been in the NHL for many years and continued to play at that level this season with the Barons. He was a positive influence on and off the ice for our team. He has earned this opportunity and we wish him much success. We remain focused on moving forward toward our ultimate goal of capturing the Calder Cup.

Yann Danis Headed Back To OKC

 

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.
Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

Announced last night, following one of the most impressive Oilers wins in recent memories, the team announced that they’d be sending Yann Danis back to Oklahoma City.

Dubnyk is fine. Khabibulin is fine. And Yann will continue his duties as the number three man in the organization, landing with the AHL Barons for as long as he needs to. And Yann seems to embrace this role very well, yet there’s a few things to consider when reassignments like this take place. Mainly in the life of prospect goaltender, Olivier Roy, who will probably move back to Stockton of the ECHL.

The Barons struggles, mainly on the defensive side of things, occasionally stem from the goaltending they receive from Danis, Hovinen, and Roy. All three are having less than desirable seasons, but somehow make things work just enough to earn the Barons points. As we saw in the Rockford games (and nearly in the San Antonio game most recently), we’ve yet to see a Barons goaltender play a full three periods of amazing hockey. Perhaps it’s a consistency issue, where the players have moved around enough throughout the later portions of the season that they aren’t finding the groove needed to really solidify the protection of their own net. But I tend to lean on the veteran goaltenders a bit more in crunch time, so to some extent, Danis is a sight for sore eyes.

Regardless, Yann is headed back to OKC. Watch for Roy to head to Srockton. And assume that Hovinen becomes the number two guy in that span.

The Barons face the San Antonio Rampage tonight for their second meeting with the team in four days. Should be a good/important one.

Anton Lander Reassigned To Oklahoma City

AHL Hockey: Dec 14 Barons vs Rampage
Lander’s Back! Photo by Steven Christy.

After suffering a broken foot off a Justin Schultz shot in early February, it appears that Anton Lander is well. And with his wellness comes a reassignment to the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL. I’ll give you the spin from the minor league perspective because that’s likely why you’re reading this site. So here goes.

The Edmonton Oilers may have depth issues at center, but the Oklahoma City Barons are an altogether different story. Here are the legit centermen (in offensive order) currently with the team.

Mark Arcobello, C.J. Stretch, Eric Hunter, Chris VandeVelde, Ryan Martindale, Tanner House.

That’s six legit guys down the middle, and that’s a crowded house with the addition of Anton Lander. What that means is it may be time to send Eric Hunter back to Stockton or perhaps the Oilers believe Ryan Martindale gets the plane ticket. But keep in mind, you can almost negate Hunter as a centerman because he’s played more wing than anything else since returning to OKC this go-round. But still, things are tight.

Where does Lander play, becomes the next question worth entertaining. I’d love to see him centering that second line with C.J. Stretch and Toni Rajala on the wings. Their quickness, his sturdiness – that sounds right to me. You could also make a case for Anton to play a third line role, moving VandeVelde down a notch, and swapping him out for House/Martindale in some kind of rotation situation.

Defensively he adds a bit of traction to a Brett Clark led penalty kill unit that is exactly what the doctor ordered come playoff push and beyond. And remember, the Barons still own the worst PK in the league at 76.4% which is a full three numbers larger than the 29th team on the PK. Yuck. Don’t think that won’t be a huge factor down the stretch.

Any way you look at this, Anton Lander is a huge asset to our minor league team. He always has been whenever he hits the ice in OKC. I expect nothing different this time.