Rumors of the Bakersfield Condors being purchased by Daryl Katz have existed for as long as the Oilers have switched their affiliate from Stockton To Bakersfield this summer. It appears that rumors are becoming a bit more fact based, and Terry Jones at the Edmonton Sun seems to have the scoop.
In an article posted Tuesday evening, Jones said:
Sometime this month, your correspondent has learned, Daryl Katz will become owner of the Oilers ECHL farm franchise which currently stars goaltender Laurent Brossoit and has had incredible international publicity from several wacky and wonderful promotions.
The Oilers relocated their Double A minor league farm affiliation here from Stockton this year.
The team has been owned for 16 years by Wall Street’s Jonathan Fleisig, a previous owner of the Las Vegas Wranglers and current owner of baseball minor league Lake Country Fielders of the Northern League and the Lorado Lemurs of the American Association.
After months of speculation, it seems that Katz is ready to be the affiliate owner of his ECHL club as well as his AHL club, in Oklahoma City. This is an interesting “get” for the Oilers, and the Katz family.
The Oilers have recently enjoyed the tight-fist approach to prospect development. They want things done in an orderly, and seemingly finite fashion. Jones touches on this in his article:
The idea of the NHL Oilers deciding to purchase the franchise is believed to be motivated by having the ability to control the supply of prospects not signed to NHL or AHL contracts. The appeal of owning the team is having the ability to convince undrafted players without contracts to play here. They’d be joining a team where they’d know there’d be eyes on them all the time, a big appeal for players in the low minors.
I’m fond of the idea of having a non NHL/AHL contracted prospect pool that can be helicopter parented by the Oilers. Guys like Mark Arcobello, for instance, can have high quality minutes while also being considered an Oiler hockey prospect. This is good news.
It is also likely good news for Oklahoma City, and their future as an Oiler affiliated team. Barons fans, including this one, have become hyper critical of attendance figures, but more so the lack of interest from local management. Through this insecurity, we have questioned the future of the team in our city. This, however, might point to the Barons sitting in Oklahoma City a bit longer.
Would you move your AHL affiliate to Bakersfield? Maybe (it certainly is nearly identical in miles traveled when compared to OKC). There is seemingly no reason for the affiliate to move on the map given the destination options currently in front of them. With one wrinkle. Wouldn’t it be nice to have ECHL in Bakersfield, AHL in Abbotsford/Portland/Seattle or something along those lines? Yes, with a huge asterisks – the AHL isn’t expanding West.
In recent seasons the league has continued to stay Northeast with Abbotsford being the lone Pacific Time Zone team. As a league, there doesn’t seem to be a desire to move that direction, and for now, South West is as far as they’ll go. Creating an AHL squad in California or anywhere on the Pac Coast would be a really difficult sell to the league’s Board of Governors. The minor league affiliates don’t have the same pay out as NHL teams, and the cost of travel alone might be brutal.
On a side note, I’ve long believed that the AHL could certainly move West. Perhaps a merger of the ECHL and AHL. Or the creation of a separate, but similar in thought, West Coast team that complies with AHL government. Man, that sounds ludicrous and sticky, but I like West Coast hockey. There are some great cities who would make great AHL destination points in the future. For now I’ll dream.
In the coming days we will take a longer look at the contractual obligations between Oklahoma City and the Barons, and discuss the future as it stands in year #4 of AHL hockey. For now, Bakersfield joins the family. Welcome.