The Oklahoma City Barons have found themselves in the sweet spot of the offseason. The time and place where things start to meld together into a roster of young men, and thus a team. The earlier this gets done the more prepared the Oilers/Barons can be post-early-July. Today, the OKC Barons added another minor league piece to help slightly backstop a prospect movement within the Oilers farm system.
Signed to an AHL contract for 2013-2014, center/winger C.J. Stretch becomes the second Baron in the offseason to accept a non-NHL contract. This is good news.
C.J., the Cali-kid who was signed to two PTO’s during the 2012-13 campaign, was an impressive forward with the Ontario Reign when the Barons came calling. He was a scoring juggernaut in that league, and although the numbers didn’t immediately translate to the AHL, five goals and three assists in seventeen regular season games was welcomed. Likewise, he played an increasingly important role with OKC in their postseason campaign. Playing somewhat of a dual role as both a third line bulldog centering Josh Green and Tyler Pitlick, and as a finesse playmaker centering Toni Rajala and Teemu Hartikainen – in all areas he looked really good. Seventeen Calder Cup games almost equalled his seventeen regular season games with five goals and four assists.
Bill Scott, and likely Todd Nelson, favored C.J. in a way that they similarly favored Mark Arcobello. A little guy with a scoring touch, he’s a coaches dream. Playing smart at center, capable on the wing, responsible with the puck in both, and punishing around the net – he’s a gamer. Thus this contract makes a whollata sense.
I continue to like the idea that you can get scoring presence and leadership without signing “older” players. A Jonathan Cheechoo here a Josh Green there doesn’t always benefit the team in the way we assume it does. MacTavish and Bill Scott appear to be working hand-in-hand of late whether they admit to it or not. Arcobello, and now Stretch – all have the pleasant aroma of both prospect AND leadership. Things both the Oilers and Barons can benefit from. More to come, I’m sure.