You feel that? Yes, that’s the swelter my friends. Congratulations, Oklahoma, you have reached the early portions of August, and the summer hasn’t been all that awful…until now. Where your first thought in the morning is “Do I wear an undershirt today?”, “Do I pack a change of clothes?”, and “Will overtime hours cover my A/C bills or will I need to sell a kidney?”
Per Europe, “It’s the final countdownnnnn”, yet unlike Europe we actually know what we are counting down to (specifically), and it’s hockey season in OKC, and the tolerable temperatures that go along with it. But before we get there we need to evaluate contracts, positions, and the whosits and whatsits of roster placement. I’ve thrown darts against the wall, and here is my October roster in Oklahoma City.
Amazing, isn’t it? That Curtis Hamilton is still nestled into an Oilers org left wing. That Tyler Pitlick is most likely to be named a top right winger on the farm. That we finally get to see the pro minutes of Moroz. It really is all kinds of exciting and stuff, especially offensively.
You will notice a couple of omissions from the list. Let’s start with the twins, Connor and Kellen Jones. They play so well together, and although one was drafted by the Oilers and the other was not, I fully believe that organizationally they want these two players together. We watched them play separately at least one game on their try out contract last year, and it was an awful experiment. That could be a result of always playing together, in which case maybe the Oilers pull them apart for a while to get a good individual looksee. However, in October I think they’ll ship them both to Bakersfield. Add to that list Josh Winquist who could really be a good players in the ECHL, and perhaps emerge to the AHL when needed.
You will also notice that Steve Pinizzotto, and Anton Lander are absent from the list. The lack of bottom center strength might force them to keep Lander in the NHL where he can apply his swiss-army-knife approach to major league minutes. And Pinizzotto is the gruff/grit/grime player that might compliment (er, what a word) a bottom threesome in the NHL. Egads, October in the NHL will be fun(ny).
The real battle for ice time on the farm will come at the center position. Acton and Williamson add some “older” mojo down the middle, but the contest between Yakimov and Khaira is going to be pretty heated. Ewanyk can own the checking line center position like very few. Thus these are some things to keep an eye on.
Defensively I think things are a bit more cut and dry, but let’s explore the possibilities.
The two omissions are both AHL contracted players, and will probably pull down big minutes in the ECHL. I’m, of course, speaking of Graeme Craig and C.J. Ludwig. Because the Klefbom’s, Davidson’s, and Musil’s of the world are so high on the list of “prospects to watch” within the Oilers organization, you can’t imagine they drop much lower than they did last season. They shouldn’t. The only newcomers to the list are Oesterle (who did lace up 4 games, scored a goal, looked lost briefly) and Dillon Simpson. Both will have protected minutes. I like Brad Hunt too, and his consistency coupled with another year of play as a Baron, and he just might continue to turn some heads. I also think this is a big year for Klefbom who is the most likely to earn NHL ice time in a call-up situation.
Martin Marincin was probably earned a shot with the Oilers, and we might have to wait and see just how Eakins mangled together a defensive lineup to really make a judgement call. In the end, Marty is a really good prospect, maybe the best the Oilers had last season on the blue line, and so things could go really well for the stringbean.
The footnote here is goaltending, which this site has covered before. Richard Bachman and Laurent Brossoit are your tandem, no doubt about that. Bachman the vet, Brossoit the prospect, and a set of two that seems formulaic since the Barons emerged over four years ago.
That leaves Bunz, Tuohimma, Rimmer to toil elsewhere. With Bachman the #1 on the farm, and Brossoit #2, look for Bunz to be the #3 who plays minutes in the ECHL. He just might have a bit left in the tank, but he’s running on fumes. In summation, this is a really wide-open roster in terms of what they can accomplish.
Taking the team’s temperature in August is absolutely ludicrous to consider simply because so many offensive prospects exist here that are as green as the hatch chile I just ate. Thus I find them wildly intriguing.
Futurecasting just a bit, this team will struggle for about a month, surge towards Christmas, and steady post New Years. I think they put together good defense despite their dreadful start in 2013. Watch closely, this team will impress.