Nesbitt & Ford Help Complete Right Wing Position For Barons

Derek Nesbitt
“Nezzy” or you might know him as Derek Nesbitt.

The expected Oklahoma City Barons roster is starting to take shape. Sure it’s a lumpy ball of play-doh until October rolls around, but the grand designer is at work. If you simply look at the potential left wing versus right wing options for the Barons you will notice an imbalance of sorts. On the left wing, the projected players might be Curtis Hamilton, Kale Kessy, Ryan Hamilton, Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk, Toni Rajala. On the right wing, it’s simply Tyler Pitlick and Eric Lizon. Thus the need for dedicated right wingers leaves GM Bill Scott with some signings to be made. He would do just that.

Announced last week, the Barons have agreed to terms with two right wingers. Derek Nesbitt and Matthew Ford have both signed AHL contracts in Oklahoma City.

The skinny on both players is that they are both experienced, and not just at the pro level. Both are four year collegiate guys, and that’s always a bonus in my book.

Nesbitt, a product of Ferris State University, twice played at a point per game for the season arc. His collegiate career high in points was in 2002-03 where, as a sophomore, he notched a +38 in 42 games earning 20 goals and 33 assists. As he began his undrafted professional years, he’d arrive in the ECHL where he dominated, and would eventually graduate to the AHL. Having never played in consecutive seasons for the same team, Nesbitt continued to be a journeyman throughout the minor leagues until he found a landing spot with the Peoria Rivermen for three straight seasons. He was traded to the WBS Penguins towards the end of last season after recovering from a lower body injury. The trade was for future considerations, and was believed to have gone down to keep Nesbitt under the vet rule, which is 320 games. Details of the transaction can be read here.

Nesbitt is that guy. He knows how to score goals, and is unafraid to be highly chancy. I like what he offers, and he just might fit into a top two scoring line position based on his recent stats.

The other right winger added, Matthew Ford, is also a four year collegiate player who honed his craft with the Wisconsin Badgers. He played alongside familiar faces like Joe Pavelski, Tom Gilbert, and a few others you might know. In his USHL days he was a point gobbler, he struggled a bit in college, but soon found his sea legs where he became more of a checking forward. His size, at 6′ 1″, 21o, has dictated that he be more proactive with the puck, and he’s certainly embraced that role. Tours of service through Cleveland (Lake Erie Monsters) and New York (Adirondack Phantoms) have been highly successful for Matthew. However, his numbers appear to be slowing down just a bit, and perhaps that’s a result of insertion into lineups where he hasn’t had the opportunity to be a scoring threat. He’s also been bounced by teams twice in the last two seasons, and that’s always difficult to combat when your attempting to gain momentum. Nonetheless, he’s a nice piece to the right wing puzzle.

Both signings bring  vet presence and leadership by virtue of their credentials and their tendencies to play well regardless of destination. I approve.

Official Releases

The Oklahoma City Barons signed forward Derek Nesbitt to an American Hockey League contract, General Manager Bill Scott announced today.

Nesbitt, a 6-0, 185-pounder from Egmondville, Ontario, finished last season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, but played the majority of the season with the Peoria Rivermen. The 31-year old led the Rivermen with 26 goals and finished second on the club with 47 points. Over three seasons with the Rivermen, recorded 144 points (65-79-144).

A veteran of over 300 games in the AHL, Nesbitt has experience with the Rivermen, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, San Antonio Rampage, Rockford IceHogs and Manitoba Moose. In all, he’s played 320 AHL games, scoring 203 points (92-111-203).

Nesbitt broke into the professional ranks with the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL in 2005, helping the team to the Kelly Cup Finals. The next season, he helped the Idaho Steelheads earn the ECHL’s postseason championship. In all, he’s played in 211 games in the ECHL and scored 240 points (86-154-240).

Between the two leagues, the 8-year veteran has played in 531 games and recorded 443 points (178-265-443). Prior to turning pro, Nesbitt played four seasons at Ferris State University. In 154 games over those four seasons, Nesbitt scored 141 points (59-82-141).


The Oklahoma City Barons officially signed forward Matthew Ford to an AHL contract, General Manager Bill Scott announced today.

Ford is heading into his sixth season as a professional. He has spent his first five seasons with five different AHL clubs; Hartford, Lake Erie, Hershey, Adirondack and Springfield.

The former Chicago Blackhawks 8th round, 256th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, has amassed 274 regular season AHL games and has 155 points (78-77-155).

Ford’s most productive season came in the 2011-12 campaign when he split time between the Hershey Bears and Adirondack Phantoms. He posted career highs in goals (29), assists (30) and points (59). He split time last season between Adirondack and Springfield, scoring 24 points (9-15-24) in 53 games.

Ford played all four seasons of his collegiate career with the University of Wisconsin, where the Badger scored 21 goals and added 18 assists in 124 games.