Trade Deadline Passes & No Barons Moved, Philip Larsen Recalled

The 3pm east trade deadline has come and gone, and no Oklahoma City Barons players have been moved.

The surprising narrative to this whole commentary is that none of the Edmonton Oilers prospects have moved. No Tyler Pitlick, no Mark Arcobello, no Anton Lander, no defensive “dude” – so the world continues to turn (and stay flat?) for the organization looking to get better in the offseason.

I think this makes two statements from the Edmonton Oilers.

First, there are some prospects MacTavish has faith in. Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick, and obviously Mark Arcobello just might be a part of the future group of forwards. That’s smart. Giving them a +1 year would be an intelligent move because it gives you the depth that might be difficult to find in the draft immediately or with incoming, untested pro rookies.

Second, there are some prospects that aren’t nearly as valuable, and unable to be moved. Curtis Hamilton, for one, is likely on the way out when his ELC expires. Injures and such have catapulted his stock well below where you would like him to be.

Today, on Oilers Now, Bob Stauffer mentioned that Tyler Pitlick and Oscar Klefbom were the likely call-ups to the Oilers. With Belov injured, this gives you a chance to see what Klefbom can do. Pitlick, on the other hand, jumps Arcobello briefly. And perhaps that’s another “let’s take a look at what he’s got one more time” situation. At this point, why not? However, Craig MacTavish spoke to this very thing in his press conference today. He said Philip Larsen would be recalled, and that Oscar Klefbom was slightly injured, and he would have to wait.

In the end, the team of Barons you saw over the weekend is the team you will see in the postseason as the AHL rules required transactions to take place prior to the deadline for individuals to be eligible for postseason in the minors. You won’t hear me argue with that.

AHL Today: March 5th, 2014

Photo from Abbotsford Heat Twitter. All rights reserved.

Yesterday’s Games

Game 637: Charlotte Checkers defeat Norfolk Admirals, 3-2


Gamesheet: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1011741

-Philippe Cornet ties it and Sean Dolan gets the winner in the final minute to give the Checkers their third straight win. Justin Peters made 24 saves to earn the win, improving to 4-1-1.
-Emerson Etem and Dave Steckel scored for the Admirals as they drop to 6-4-0-0 in their last ten games. John Gibson turned away 28 shots in the loss, falling to 17-12-4 on the season.

Game 845: Texas Stars defeat Abbotsford Heat, 3-1


Gamesheet: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1011949

-Dustin Jeffrey’s two goals were his first two of the entire season, while Brett Ritchie notched goal number three for the Stars. Jack Campbell improved to a perfect 6-0-0 record in seven appearances this season with the win.
-The Heat’s only goal came in the first period to open up the scoring, coming from Sven Baertschi, his seventh of the season. Joey MacDonald takes the loss, stopping 22 shots to fall to 5-10-0.

Game 846: Rockford IceHogs defeat Rochester Americans, 4-2


Gamesheet: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1011950

-Jeremy Morin continues his point streak, scoring his 22nd goal of the season to help lead the IceHogs to their seventh win in their last ten games. Jason LaBarbera turned away 33 shots to improve to 12-7-1 this season.
-Kevin Porter tried to spur a comeback in the third period for the Americans, but the team was unable to catch the IceHogs in the final minutes. Nathan Lieuwen made 25 saves in the loss, dropping his record to 15-9-2.

The Standings

Pos Team Points Pts % Pos Change
1 * – Manchester Monarchs 80 0.667
2 * – Springfield Falcons 74 0.649
3 * – Binghamton Senators 70 0.625
4 St. John’s IceCaps 72 0.632
5 Norfolk Admirals 70 0.614
6 Providence Bruins 69 0.595
7 Albany Devils 67 0.598
8 WBS Penguins 67 0.588
9 Hershey Bears 65 0.570
10 Bridgeport Sound Tigers 57 0.500
11 Syracuse Crunch 53 0.482
12 Adirondack Phantoms 52 0.473
13 Worcester Sharks 52 0.473
14 Hartford Wolf Pack 52 0.464
15 Portland Pirates 51 0.455

 

Pos Team Points Pts % Pos Change
1 * – Texas Stars 76 0.655 ↑1
2 * – Grand Rapids Griffins 75 0.658 ↓1
3 * – Toronto Marlies 70 0.636
4 Chicago Wolves 72 0.643
5 Abbotsford Heat 72 0.621
6 Rockford IceHogs 68 0.567
7 Rochester Americans 64 0.571
8 Milwaukee Admirals 62 0.554
9 Oklahoma City Barons 59 0.518
10 Charlotte Checkers 57 0.509 ↑1
11 San Antonio Rampage 56 0.500 ↓1
12 Hamilton Bulldogs 55 0.500
13 Iowa Wild 54 0.482
14 Utica Comets 53 0.473
15 Lake Erie Monsters 52 0.473


Yesterday’s Transactions

Heeter called up to Philly on an emergency basis.

Mangene traded from Philly to the Islanders as part of the Andrew MacDonald trade….

…And assigned to Bridgeport.

Patrick Mullen traded to the Senators organization from Vancouver/Utica. Assigned to Binghamton.

Binghamton also had goaltender Scott Marean signed to an ATO for the day, filling in at practice.

Porter recalled to St. Louis.

Capitals and Coyotes make a trade, changing up the Bears and Pirates rosters.

And Deschamps heads to Hershey as well.

Lake Erie makes a swap with CHL Denver. Mikael Tam up to the Monsters, Robin Soudek heads to the Cutthroats.

Andersen’s trip to Norfolk scratched.

Larsen assigned to Oklahoma City.

Chris Rawlings assigned to CHL Arizona by the Portland Pirates.

Pirates also lose Mathieu Brisebois, traded to the Chicago Blackhawks by Phoenix.

Brisebois will head to Rockford.

Stephane Robidas traded by Dallas. Chris Mueller recalled to take his spot.

McLaren clears waivers, assigned to the Marlies by the Maple Leafs.

Today’s Games

All three games tonight have a big impact on standings. Texas/Abbotsford between West Division leaders, Chicago/Grand Rapids between Midwest Division leaders, and both OKC and Utica are battling to get into a playoff spot.

Game 847: Texas Stars at Abbotsford Heat, 7pm PST
Gamesheet: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1011951

Game 848: Chicago Wolves at Grand Rapids Griffins, 7pm EST
Gamesheet: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1011952

Game 849: Oklahoma City Barons at Utica Comets, 7pm EST
Gamesheet: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1011953

Oklahoma City Barons Are Rolling, Who’s Driving This Tractor?

Photo by Steven Christy

A funny thing happened about a month ago. The Oklahoma City Barons got good. They went from basement dweller in the AHL standings to darlings in about four weeks time. A testament to the parity found in the West…for the most part. When things get tight, and playoffs begin to be discussed, the teams start to jockey for position. It’s a glorious sight to behold.

This past weekend they outscored both Rockford and San Antonio in a three-in-three set at home. The games were tight, but in all honesty, the better team prevailed in each, and for at least a brief moment – Oklahoma City is really good.

How has this happened?

A lot of people want to point to Coach Todd Nelson, and that’s a good target to fixate on. He has a knack for getting his team to respond (given the right tools) at the right time, and a seed in every playoff since the Barons existence is proof of that. Just when it seemed that the team was destined to disappear prior to the Calder Cup Playoffs, the team is starting to trend up in a hurry. Indeed, Todd Nelson is a huge part of that success.

The players on the ice are partly to blame as well, but just exactly whom is the question. It seems that all – fourth to first – lines are contributing in ways that we’ve not seen in an entire season of hockey. Some defensive support now exists as well. Here are the stats in the last three games that kind of hint at whom might be driving this big tractor we call the Barons.

Players On Ice GF Even Strength

[one_half]

Forwards

Tyler Pitlick – 4
Anton Lander – 4
Roman Horak – 3
Mark Arcobello – 3
Matthew Ford – 3
Will Acton – 2
Steve Pinizzotto – 2
Curtis Hamilton – 2
Travis Ewanyk – 2
Kale Kessy – 2
Jack Combs – 2
Austin Fyten – 2
Denis Grebeshkov – 1
Ben Eager – 1[/one_half] [one_half_last]

Defenders

Brad Hunt – 5
Oscar Klefbom – 4
Brandon Davidson – 4
David Musil – 3
Martin Gernat – 2
Taylor Fedun – 2[/one_half_last]

[bra_divider height=’40’]

Players On Ice GF Power Play

[one_half]

Forwards

Matthew Ford – 5
Anton Lander – 5
Mark Arcobello – 5
Roman Horak – 4[/one_half] [one_half_last]

Defenders

Brad Hunt – 5
[/one_half_last]

[bra_divider height=’40’]

Players On Ice GA Even Strength

[one_half]

Forwards

Matthew Ford – 4
Will Acton – 4
Mark Arcobello – 3
Curtis Hamilton – 3
Anton Lander – 2
Austin Fyten – 2
Jack Combs – 2
Steve Pinizzotto – 2
Roman Horak – 2
Ben Eager – 2
Tyler Pitlick – 1
C.J. Stretch – 1
Travis Ewanyk – 1
Kale Kessy – 1
Jack Combs – 1
[/one_half] [one_half_last]

Defenders

David Musil – 5
Brad Hunt – 4
Oscar Klefbom – 4
Brandon Davidson – 3
Taylor Fedun – 3
Martin Gernat – 2
Denis Grebeshkov – 2
[/one_half_last]

[bra_divider height=’40’]

Players On Ice GA Power Play

[one_half]

Forwards

Anton Lander – 1
Austin Fyten – 1
Roman Horak – 1
Mark Arcobello – 1[/one_half] [one_half_last]

Defenders

David Musil – 2
Oscar Klefbom – 2
[/one_half_last]

[bra_divider height=’40’]

A couple of things worth mentioning here. A lot of where guys position themselves in +/- ratings (which is basically a less detailed version of what you see above) system is based on whom they play with. But when you break down the rating into the four categories above, you can see two things. First, you see where guys are being used. Klefbom is everywhere except the PP, which has been pretty good in the three game span above. Even strength and penalty kill are where you see him the most. On the flip side of that, a defender like Brad Hunt is a mainstay on the power play, while completely absent from penalty killing (in general). Second, the stand outs at even strength and the power play really start to, well, stand out. For instance, Tyler Pitlick gave up very little in terms of goals allowed (in terms of him personally, realizing linemates matter), but was on the higher end of ice time for goals allowed from the forward group. That’s kind of interesting.

Let’s break down some more things worth noting.

The nineteen points in nine games by Mark Arcobello is crazy Justin Schultz circa 2012 (in the minors) numbers. A huge chunk of his success recently, mind you, has come on the power play. That’s a trend we saw in previous seasons where Jordan Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and Justin Schultz weren’t dominating the PP totals. Arco is a sneaky good power play guy, and he’s helped the team get better in that department. He also wasn’t playing top line minutes, rather centering the second line with Roman Horak and Steve Pinizzotto when at even strength.

The top line of Curtis Hamilton – Anton Lander – Tyler Pitlick spent two of the three games together until Hamilton and Austin Fyten were swapped in game three. Interesting to see the consistency in Pitlick and Lander. Also interesting to see that Nelson has put some OOMPH on both wings in those three games.

Oscar Klefbom and Brandon Davidson, playing vastly different defensive minutes (Davidson w/ Hunt; Klefbom third pairing w/ Musil), have somehow driven similar on ice behaviors when goals are scored. Matchups are a huge discprencey to this whole thing, but the fact that Klefbom carries David Musil is pretty interesting. Likewise, Klefbom and Musil were on the ice for the only two power play goals scored over the weekend. The PK was several ticks above it’s normal 78.7 rate at 83 during that same time span. Good stuff.

Brad Hunt is an offensive defender, and a pretty iffy defensive defender. Things that Oilers fans saw in the big leagues.

Musil is still struggling offensively, but being aided greatly by Klefbom. I think this is important to point out daily.

Gernat is defending better, Denis Grebeshkov is barely making the lineup once in four games.

Lander continues to be one of the league leaders in power play goals scored, and if Arcobello remains in OKC any longer (I don’t think he will) those two will have a fine rip down the stretch.

C.J. Stretch has been buried lately, but the bottom scoring threat has emerged just enough to keep the Barons dangerous through all four lines.

The short and sweet version is this. The Barons are playing better, but it seems they are besting some of the best in the Western Conference in two ways – outscoring at even strength (barely), winning the special team’s battles. This is huge, and to go back to a previous point, might just make Todd Nelson a wizard. Knowing that the team has defensive issues, he’s been able to squeeze as much offense as he can out of specific players (SEE: Lander and Arcobello). Likewise, the defense is giving scoring support (Brandon Davidson notched two goals in one game, he hadn’t scored a non empty netter ever as a Baron. Thanks Candace!). So the team is good momentarily, and with the “good” package that Nelson has put together, this is a team that I can honestly see making the playoffs. You lose one or maybe two forwards, the season takes another turn towards terrible.

The road gets a little easy for the Barons before it gets treacherous. Utica, one of the worst in the league, welcomes them on Wednesday while Hamilton and Rochester come calling to round out the weekend. Then things go crazy. San Antonio, Grand Rapids, Texas, San Antonio, and Charlotte all wait in the wings, and we all hold on for dear life.

 

Philip Larsen Clears Waivers, Assigned To Oklahoma City

Placed on waivers yesterday, and clearing today, Philip Larsen has been assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons. Seven points in just seven games this season with the Oklahoma City Barons, Larsen had been one of the most consistent puck movers the team had. Despite is mis-guided tendencies in the NHL, and low-key injury situations, he remains a huge question mark within the Oilers organization.

The right-handed shot will be a welcome sight for the Barons coaching staff who might lose Taylor Fedun and Oscar Klefbom going the other way. Corey Potter has been placed on waivers, probably will clear, and will be assigned to the Barons. This too could be huge in the coming weeks as OKC panders for a playoff spot.

Larsen still struggles defensively at both levels, and that’s always a scary thing to behold. Yet in the end, his skilled minor leaguing might save his bacon…it has before.

More news to come…I’m sure of it.

AHL Today: March 4th, 2014

Photo from Adirondack Phantoms Twitter. All rights reserved.

Award Winners

The Oscars were this past weekend, and the AHL continues the award season by announcing their weekly and monthly award winners.

Arcobello named CCM/AHL Player of the Week (3 goals, 4 assists in 3 games played)

Morin named CCM/AHL Player of the Month (9 goals, 9 assists in 11 games played)

Granlund named CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month (5 goals, 7 assists in 10 games played)

Markstrom named CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month (4-1-1, 1.31 GAA, .954 saves % in 7 appearances)

Monday’s Transactions

Justin Johnson earns an NHL deal with the Islanders

Jaskin returns to Wolves

Rinne recalled from conditioning assignment with Milwaukee
2-0-0, 0.99 GAA, .943 saves % in two appearances

Darling recalled from ECHL Cincinnati by Milwaukee

Syracuse swaps goalies with Tampa Bay

Not tweeted about, Frederik Anderson has been loaned to the Norfolk Admirals by the Anaheim Ducks. Anderson is 3-1-0 in four games for the NorAds and has a 15-3 record with Anaheim this season.

Also, Nick Tuzzolino was re-signed on a PTO, having reached the game limit of his first try-out. Tuzzolino on loan from ECHL Elmira.

The Standings

Pos Team Points Pts % Pos Change (from Feb 28th)
1 * – Manchester Monarchs 80 0.667
2 * – Springfield Falcons 74 0.649
3 * – Binghamton Senators 70 0.625
4 St. John’s IceCaps 72 0.632
5 Norfolk Admirals 70 0.625 ↑1
6 Providence Bruins 69 0.595 ↑2
7 Albany Devils 67 0.598 ↓2
8 WBS Penguins 67 0.588 ↓1
9 Hershey Bears 65 0.57
10 Bridgeport Sound Tigers 57 0.5
11 Syracuse Crunch 53 0.482 ↑1
12 Adirondack Phantoms 52 0.473 ↑3
13 Worcester Sharks 52 0.473 ↓2
14 Hartford Wolf Pack 52 0.464
15 Portland Pirates 51 0.455 ↓2

 

Pos Team Points Pts % Pos Change (from Feb 28th)
1 * – Grand Rapids Griffins 75 0.658 ↑1
2 * – Texas Stars 74 0.649 ↓1
3 * – Toronto Marlies 70 0.636
4 Chicago Wolves 72 0.643 ↑1
5 Abbotsford Heat 72 0.632 ↓1
6 Rockford IceHogs 66 0.559
7 Rochester Americans 64 0.582
8 Milwaukee Admirals 62 0.554
9 Oklahoma City Barons 59 0.518 ↑2
10 San Antonio Rampage 56 0.500 ↓1
11 Charlotte Checkers 55 0.500 ↑1
12 Hamilton Bulldogs 55 0.500 ↑1
13 Iowa Wild 54 0.482 ↓3
14 Utica Comets 53 0.473 ↑1
15 Lake Erie Monsters 52 0.473 ↓1

Today’s Games

Game 637: Charlotte Checkers at Norfolk Admirals, 7:15pm EST
Gamesheet: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1011741

-Make-up game from postponement on January 28th.
-Charlotte is 2nd on the PP in the AHL, while Norfolk is 3rd on the PK so far this season.
-Head-to-head: Charlotte – 4-2-0-0, Norfolk – 2-2-1-1
-Norfolk’s on a four-game winning streak, chasing St. John’s for the number four spot in the East.
-Charlotte is on a two-game winning streak, trying to stay relevant in the West’s playoff race.

Game 845: Texas Stars at Abbotsford Heat, 10:30am PST
Gamesheet: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1011949

-Number one vs. Number two in the West Division.
-Head-to-head: Texas – 3-1-0-1, Abbotsford – 2-3-0-0
-Texas tries to retake the number one spot in the Western Conference with a win.
-Abbotsford trying to tie Texas for the number one spot in the West Division.

Game 846: Rochester Americans at Rockford IceHogs, 7pm CST
Gamesheet: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1011950

-Rockford tries to gain hold Rochester off in the standings, while the Americans look to move up in the standings with a win.
-Head-to-head: Rochester – 1-0-0-0, Rockford – 0-1-0-0

Trading Tyler Pitlick Might Be Worth Mentioning (But Can The Oilers Use Him Now?)

The trade season is starting to sizzle just a bit, but for our beloved Edmonton Oilers, the red phone in Craig MacTavish’s office has been relatively quiet. This is problematic, and certainly makes even the most optimistic of Oilers fans turn red with skeptical anger. Nonetheless, there is time to wheel and deal, so we will hope for the best, and not encourage the worst.

While the Oilers toil away in the remainder of their 20+ games, the Oklahoma City Barons round out a solid weekend with three straight victories thus inching themselves closer to a playoff spot in the AHL. It seemed desperate at best that OKC would be pushing for a playoff spot in March, but here we are, and the team is red hot.

One such player that is really challenging the odds is Tyler Pitlick.

Pitlick, the winger with some oomph, speed, and occasional scoring touch, is having a pretty solid back half to his season. Plagued by injuries in the past, he damaged his left knee in late October while playing with the Oilers. He was deposited into the minors once he was deemed healthy for play. He then was given the “upper body injury” tag around early February, and is again heading back into the farm lineup. The good news? He’s back to his old tricks doing the things that he does well – strong board play, good hands, quick, and mostly smart. Pitlick has separated himself from the group of forwards on the farm in areas that seem highly important to the Edmonton Oilers.

Eighteen points in 31 games played on the farm in 2013-14, Pitlick has been relatively important for the Barons, and that’s worth noting. Most recently playing the right wing, and centered by Anton Lander, you can find him carefully passing the puck up ice, striking defenders off the puck, and being headstrong away from the play. I really like Tyler Pitlick, probably as much as Craig MacTavish.

I’d position Pitlick, like Anton Lander, on a fourth line with Edmonton. That’s a fourth line that rarely makes mistakes, is willing to crunch down on solid opponents, and is fully capable of scoring. What’s not to love about that?

If you consider Pitlick worthy within your organization, you must take the good with the bad. The Oilers have a decision to make. Is he worth keeping because he gives us some things we need? Or perhaps more importantly, is he worth keeping despite his injury history? Realistic questions both for the Oilers, and those whom might consider bringing him on board.

If I were the GM of the Oilers I’d bring him into the NHL lineup sooner rather than later. You aren’t getting much in return with Pitlick in a trade, but he might be an asset that sweetens the deal (something I also said about Anton Lander).

There’s no mistaking the fact that Pitlick has been good for the Barons. Losing him could potentially cost the team, but that’s okay. Guys like Lander and Arcobello might be deeper wounds if absent. Time will tell.

2014 OKC Barons Buddies Jersey Auction. What a night!

Photo: Brandon Davidson and Brad Hunt. February 28, 2014: OKC Barons vs Rockford IceHogs. Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. (Photo: Courtesy of Steven Christy. All Rights Reserved)

2014 Barons Buddies Jersey Auction brought in $27,975 for Special Olympics Oklahoma.

Like past Barons Buddies auctions, the 2014 Barons Buddies Jersey Auction was a huge success and brought in $27,975 for Special Olympics Oklahoma. The team wore their one-of-a-kind jerseys to Friday evening’s game vs the Rockford IceHogs, and immediately following the game the jerseys were available for bids in a live auction. The team has participated in this worthy cause since year one of the franchise’s history when it partnered with Special Olympics Oklahoma. To read more about the program, see Barons Buddies program and Special Olympics Barons Buddies Program.

Well done, OKC Barons fans!

Prices for jerseys sold last night — supplied by Eric Rodgers and others. The auction moves very quickly, and prices may be off somewhat since the total does not quite add up to the Barons final tally.

  1. Pitlick: $1000. (1st jersey sold)
  2. Ford hits $1000 right off. And sold.
  3. Pinizzotto: $950.
  4. Bachman: $1025.
  5. Fedun: $850.
  6. Hunt: $1100.
  7. Lander: $1100.
  8. Arcobello: $1300.
  9. Davidson: $1100.
  10. Combs: $1050.
  11. Eager: $2200.
  12. Curtis Hamilton: $950.
  13. Acton: $900.
  14. Grebeshkov: $850.
  15. MacIntyre: $875.
  16. Ryan Hamilton: $900.
  17. Gernat: $900.
  18. Musil: $1050.
  19. Bunz: $850.
  20. Fyten: $950.
  21. Stretch: $1000.
  22. Klefbom: $775.
  23. Horak: $800.
  24. Miller: $550
  25. Ewanyk: $1250
  26. Kessy: $1300
  27. Derrick: $950

Andrew Miller’s Barons Buddies Jersey. Photo courtesy of Mary Long, 2014.