I once took a camping trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mid-summer, with ski lifts in off-season mode, my goal was to make it to the peak of the famed Santa Fe Baldy. She was a tame peak, and not much more than two days of supplies, well worn hiking boots, and some physical fitness were required to make it to the top.
Standing at the base of the peak, my blue tent lost in a sea of tall green grass, I set forth to conquer “the Baldy” as our guide called her. At first I took the marathon approach, moving slowly through jagged rock formations, around crevices that were six feet deep, and jumping between arching formations like a graceful doe. Quickly I realized the pace would need to quicken or my conquest would be dashed by the setting sun. So I scurried, light footed.
Nearing the halfway point I reached for my water jug, took a swig, and carried on. One hundred leaps and bounds from the top I pulled out my glorious set of telescoping binoculars, placed them to my sweaty face, and gazed upon the beauty that surrounded me. As I crested the top rock formation, I took a deep breath, pulled my camera from my bag, snapped some panoramas, a few “selfies”, and promptly took fifty strides towards the other side of the peak as I patted myself on the back.
Much to my horror, just on the other side of the famed Baldy was an operating ski lift full of over weight tourists, small children, and a few dogs. Suddenly my epic trip to the peak felt unnecessary. I promptly removed the “selfies” from my camera, hopped on the lift, and ate my body weight in Simple Simons pizza that night.
Life is full of “poked hole” moments where your parachute feels like Swiss cheese, and that thing you ate for lunch comes back to haunt you around 3pm. Isn’t that what makes living so much fun? After all, “getting there” is half the fun.
So the Oklahoma City Barons are trying their hand at “getting there”. The offseason is upon us, but not for much longer. This means that a roster is developing, and unfortunately there is no guaranteed ski lift to the top. It’s a mangled piece of roster that, in the coming months, will become chiseled masonry.
So here are the potential roster spots based on position (not by awesomeness), and some brief comments about them as a whole.
This is an interesting group to say the least. Let’s start at center, where not that long ago I was extremely worried. Say we live in a world where either Anton Lander, Mark Arcobello, or Will Acton play full time NHL center minutes. Depending on whom goes, the Barons will positionally tweak, but not be left with a fiery piece of rubble down the middle. Say you lose two of those three, things are still fine. Here’s why. Stretch, Miller, Tremblay, Ewanyk, Martindale can hold things down. Now keep in mind, Stretch is a proven Baron, Miller and Tremblay are recent college grads, Ewanyk shows promise, and Martindale knows he has to step things up. It’s not ideal, but it will work. Also, the likelihood of the Oilers taking all three of those centers mentioned above is slim to never which leaves a fine AHL centerman on the farm team. Good times.
The right wing is as ugly as sin. Abney? Lizon? Pitlick (half question mark), Matt Ford? Nesibitt is the quality leader and point snatcher, but the rest are iffy at best. That means Tyler Pitlick will earn an expanded role as does the noob Ford. I wouldn’t mind an additional right winger on this squad, perhaps someone projected to be in the NHL?
At left wing, Rajala is a sure thing. R. Hamilton is the next best thing. The rest are just things. Despite a semi-okay postseason for Ben Eager, his minutes will be low and slow. Kessy might be the darkhorse in the bunch as a 20 year old with a slew of WHL experience. Watch him, he might surprise. Fyten also has the case of the watch-me’s. Then there’s Curtis Hamilton, recovering from ACL surgery, and hoping for the best. He’ll need to find cloud 9 quickly, stay healthy, and walk with a big stick.
In all, this is a fragile bunch with a tendency towards agile. Don’t discount the surgical nature of Todd Nelson, back for at least another season of AHL coaching. He’s been known to harness the weird, the wacky, the dastardly and turn them into delicate, but awesome flowers. This list is bound to change a dozen times before training camp, and in about a months time we’ll get a good look at a handful of these prospects at the Penticton Prospects Ptourney (three “p’s” seemed right). Enjoy your August, the hockeying is near.