Photo by Steven Christy
What if I said there was a player out there that played five WHL seasons wherein the last two of those five he averaged well over a point per game. He’s currently 24 years old, amassed 134 points in 152 ECHL games. In two of those three ECHL seasons he played over 40+ games and was a point per game player or better. In 77 games played at the AHL level he’s contributed 32 points, and currently sits at +3. He’s a young player with shifty skills capable of playing the wing, center, and in various roles throughout the roster. He’s a team guy. A healthy guy (recently lost a couple of teeth). Embraces the local community. Cool as California. Great mustache. A current Baron.
Would you resign him for next season? The answer to this question, for me, is “ABSOLUTELY!”
C.J. Stretch, a player brought in from the Ontario Reign last season by Barons GM Bill Scott, has been nothing short of really good for the Barons. Lost in a sea of NHL contracted prospects this year, Stretch sorta has that Colin McDonald, Mark Arcobello underdog approach to the game that makes me wonder how high his ceiling might be if he played on a really good team for an entire season.
On a nightly basis you can find him throughout the roster, but quite often you will find him on a second or third line (most recently) with Ryan Hamilton or Will Acton. But for Stretch it is much more than playing well, staying healthy or even finding offense when no one else can – he’s captain material.
When you drive the play of whatever line you are playing on, you are a good player. We watched Philippe Cornet soar in his final season as a Baron with some really good linemates. I would say that Stretch is of the similar ilk, but with more God-given intangibles. He could be a legit second line scorer in the AHL, and perhaps take the Arcobellian approach to NHL goodness.
So, in the offseason, when we look at the list of names that potentially could come back, even under an AHL contract only, perhaps you start with Stretch. Regardless of what the Oilers have in mind with other prospects, you will need to find room for vets with a handful of players exiting the org after this season. This is a guy worth considering because he produces and is easy to cheer for. Oklahoma City Barons, do us a favor, sign Stretch soon.