Ewanyk, Moroz Highlight Another Round Of NHL Cuts

Photo by Steven Christy

While it seemed like the on-ice personnel for the Oklahoma City Barons on day one of training camp was thin, there was no doubt that a wave of players would be headed their way soon. In addition to five sent to the Barons yesterday, four more have been added with another subject to waivers.

Via the Edmonton Oilers twitter account, Travis Ewanyk, Mitch Moroz, Jordan Oesterle, and Dillon Simpson have been assigned to the Barons while Andrew Miller has been placed on waivers. With Miller expected to clear, OKC will finally have at least enough warm bodies to be prepared to play two weekend preseason games. More players to be added.

Oesterle and Simpson both out-lasted Gernat, and much was made of that. In some regards these two fellas looked better overall during camp, and in preseason minutes. However, they are also two whom haven’t really gotten much of the eyeball test from the Oilers decision makers. Thus they hung around a little while.

I like both players, Simpson perhaps a bit more than Oesterle, but both will be interesting to watch over the next week.

Ewanyk, the gritty fourth line center, returns for another season of farm play in which he will continue to battle newcomers like Jujhar Khaira. He’s a decent enough player, fits well into the Oilers mold in some regards, and seems willing to be the grinder we expect him to be.

Moroz is probably one of the players I’m most excited about seeing this season (don’t worry #JujharWatch, you’re still number one) mainly because of his ties to the Edmonton community and the “ups” he gets as a result. He could be a really good player, and if the slots in with decent linemates, I think he becomes one dandy of an AHL forward. Time will tell.

Miller likely clears, and the wings get stronger for the Barons. Quick camp days, then two travel days follow as we inch closer to the first games of the season. Hang on!

Edmonton Oilers Send Five To Oklahoma City

With Oklahoma City Barons AHL training camp beginning today, and its NHL counter-part inching ever so close to the beginning of the season, the Edmonton Oilers have cut five players from their current roster. Those players will report to OKC as soon as possible.

The list is unsurprising in some regards, save perhaps Martin Gernat, and it features players that will ice predominantly minor league minutes for the remainder of the season. This is good news if you’re an Oklahoma City Barons fan because your roster takes a more shapely form. If you’re an Oilers fan perhaps you are discouraged by a few things. Just an FYI, you can indeed be a fan of both teams. Just don’t hurt yourself in your endeavor.

The list of players cut from the NHL roster and assigned to the AHL:

Curtis Hamilton (will need to clear waivers)
Kale Kessy
Iro Pakarinen
Jason Williams
Martin Gernat

Let’s begin with the lone defender, Martin Gernat. After an interesting start to his career, where he was paired with Taylor Fedun, Gernat has been a hot and cold mystery. At times he shows improvement, and generally speaking his trend line is probably up just a bit. His struggles continue to be defensive responsibility, namely positioning. We have seen this first hand in the NHL preseason games. All hope is not lost for Martin, however, and this could be a really could conditional assignment where he earns the right to get NHL minutes this season. Players like Oesterle, Musil, Simpson remain while Gernat heads to OKC – that’s enough to discourage a player. Yet Gernat has a way of rebounding from time-to-time, and he knows clearly what he has to do to get better. He will have an opportunity to do just that with one of the best “game shaping” coaches in the business.

Kessy was high on a few writers lists of “might surprise us”, but here he lands in the second wave of roster cuts. This is about where we expected him to land along with Williams, Hamilton and Pakarinen. Iro, in particular, is a guy that I think has a chance to ease his way through the lineup. I love me a good Finn, and he’s a good Finn. Less razzle and more wrastle (as we say in OK), and that’s fine. Consternation is the key.

The Barons training camp day one was tame, but productive. Adding these players will make the competition a bit more exuberant, and I know that Todd Nelson anxiously awaits their arrival.

More to come…

Barons Camp, Season 5, Starts Today

Pitch your tent. Unroll you pack. Head to the mess hall. Camp is here! Today the Oklahoma City Barons kick-off the 2014-15 season with training camp in Bricktown starting at 10:00am. The roster is thin, more likely in the rotation by tomorrow and Wednesday, but the excitement isn’t lessened knowing that ECHL/CHL/AHL players make up the majority of the on-ice fellas. This, after all, is the “guts” of your roster. The players most likely to back-fill when needed, and if history repeats itself those players will be huge in the Coach Nelson well-oiled machine come mid-January.

More than anything it is nice to have pro hockey back for another season, and the encouraging face of one Todd Nelson and crew. But along with the familiar comes a dose of the new, both in the coaching rotation and the on-ice performers. Tony Borgford has made the shift from a lengthy career doing work with the Thrashers/Jets organization, and will be highly visible for most of training camp. No Bill Scott watching high in the Cox Center this season, instead the coaching staff will be called upon to judge the right-standing of the players. This is a bit of a new twist to a familiar tale, one of great success in four previous seasons. I think things will be fine especially when you know your coaching staff can get the job done, as they say.

Here is the current roster for the Barons skate this AM (all info via OKC Barons official Google Spreadsheet found here):

No. Player Pos
2 Graeme Craig D
4 Brendon Nash D
5 Gabriel Verpaelst (ver-plast) D
11 Matthew Ford RW
20 Connor Jones C
23 Kellen Jones LW
24 C.J. Ludwig D
33 Kevin Noble D
34 Greger Hanson LW
36 Mitch Holmberg RW
37 Joshua Winquist LW
38 Chase Schaber (shay-ber) C
40 Nick MacNeil LW
41 Steve Mele (mee-lee) C
42 Tommy Mele LW
43 Adam Pleskach LW
44 Drew Fisher D
# Goaltenders Pos
1 Frans Tuohimaa (two-oh-hee-mah) G
34 Tyler Bunz G
35 Ty Rimmer G

 

As is common with the first day of minor league camp, sometimes the numbers don’t match the players so we will do our best to communicate whom is where and such. Three interesting goaltenders in the bank should be rather interesting. I’ve always been a fan of Tyler Bunz, but Rimmer and Tuohimaa are coming off decent camps. This will be one of the most important things to watch over the next two days. The likelihood that one of these guys is the Barons #3, but starting in Bakersfield is very high. This is worth paying attention to.

We get to see Kellen and Connor Jones again along Holmberg, Winquist, and a fan fave a year ago, Matt Ford. Defensively Craig and Ludwig are the only truly recognizable in the bunch, but Brendon Nash will be familiar to some as he’s the older brother of Hurricanes forward, Riley Nash.

Two players from the city up north (Tulsa, by the way) Pleskach and Fisher, are full-time Oilers of the Central League variety, and as the ongoing saga of ECHL/CHL merger continues, these are guys that become sorta interesting.

Chase Schaber is no stranger to the Oilers organization having played with the Bakersfield Condors last season where he had 44 points in just over 60 games. His game is on the up, which means he might be available when the injury bug comes nibbling.

In all, this is one of the smallest camp rosters the Barons have had over the last four, now five, seasons. Expect more Edmonton cuts in the next 24 hours, and then the Cox Center gets a bit more crowded.

Here is the camp schedule this week:

September 29                                           September 30
Practice @ 10 – 11:15 a.m.                           Practice @ 10 – 11:15 a.m.

October 1                                                   October 2
Practice @ 10 – 11:15 a.m.                           Practice @ 10 – 11:15 a.m.

October 3                                                   October 4
Preseason Game @ 7 p.m.                         Preseason Game @ 3 p.m.
OKC @ Texas Stars                                     OKC @ San Antonio Rampage

It’s Fantasy Hockey Time at Tend The Farm!

Tend The Farm has started it’s very own fantasy hockey league for this coming NHL season! Take on the writers of TTF and other hockey fans to take home the bragging rights of the first season of TTF Fantasy Hockey! The draft will take place on Saturday, October 4th during the North American afternoon (2 PM Pacific/5PM Eastern).

To join, simply click this link and create your team. Good luck!

Ty Rimmer Assigned To The Oklahoma City Barons

Photo by Steven Christy

Ty Rimmer was certainly tested last night against the Winnipeg Jets, but it certainly wasn’t often. The goaltender has been assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons.

He stayed longer than expected (which has happened before), and will now join Tyler Bunz and Franks Tuohimaa when Barons training camp begins on Monday (team likely to report by Sat/Sun). And the assignment is interesting for a couple of reasons, but mainly because Rimmer continues to be just a bit of a mystery.

He’s a highly likable goaltender because of the athletic bend he brings to the game, and the fact that he remained in Edmonton longer than Bunz or Tuohimaa (two players selected by the Oilers via draft) perhaps gives us an insight into his future. He’s good. Likely getting better. The Oilers need some of these young guys to pan out. Why not him? I agree.

The three-headed monster will remain in camp until the Bachman’s and Brossoit’s of the world make there way to OKC as the NHL season approaches (nearly 10 days out). I still project Bachman-Brossoit as the 1-2 punch in the AHL, but perhaps we should begin discussing Rimmer as #1 in Bakersfield. It’s not completely insane to think that, but there is certainly going to be a battle in AHL camp to prove worth. This should be fun.

Catch Rimmer, the other goaltenders, and the early arrivers to Barons training camp beginning on Monday at 10am for on ice, open-to-the-public event. See you there!

Do We Call It “Winni” or “The Peg”; Oilers vs. Winnipeg Preseasoner Tonight

T-minus a several hours and counting until the Edmonton Oilers battle the Winnipeg Jets in a more mature, realistic preseason game than the ones that came before. Having plucked a few from the roster, and scattered them across middle earth, the Oilers now turn their gaze towards the “whosit” and “whatsit” of their final NHL roster. There is still much work to be done, and decisions to be made, but keep in mind – it isn’t October yet.

Tonight’s roster is pretty interesting, and features a back-half that might be fully operational in Oklahoma City by the middle of next week. In the lineup tonight is Curtis Hamilton, Andrew Miller, Kale Kessy, Travis Ewanyk, Tyler Pitlick, Martin Marincin, Martin Gernat, Oscar Klefbom, Laurent Brossoit, and Ty Rimmer. These are players that are familiar to the Okies reading this post, and that will give you something to cheer about tonight.

Also of note is Tkachev who is rumored to be signing some sort of Oilers contract that probably places him in the minor leagues to start the season. If, and I do mean if, the Oilers can sign him he will face some heavy competition in the man’s league of the AHL. Size matters sometimes, but skill can win the day. That seems to be the hope for the Edmonton Oilers, and also for the OKC Barons, who have lacked high-end, pizazz and skill (even marginal skill) since the departure of Linus Omark.

Keep your eye on Yakimov on that third line. Curtis Hamilton and Andrew Miller aren’t NHL names considered in high regard, but they are fellas that have things to prove. Don’t discount the goodness of Yakimov centering perhaps a bit of desperation to his left and right. Exciting stuff!

Tonight’s roster in its entirety:

10 Yakupov – 93 RNH – 14 Eberle
67 Pouliot – 55 Draisaitl – 64 Tkachev
70 Hamilton – 39 Yakimov – 58 Miller
49 Kessy – 76 Ewanyk – 68 Pitlick

85 Marincin – 74 Nurse
78 Gernat – 84 Klefbom
22 Aulie – 19 Schultz

1 Brossoit
38 Rimmer

EdmontonOilers.com will be broadcasting the game at 7:00CT, and it can also be heard via Fred Flintstones condor operated phonograph at 630CHED (which is what I kind of like for preseason games).

Edmonton Oilers Camp Roster Gets Slim(mer)

Photo by Steven Christy

UPDATE: It appears that Alex Krushelnyski will also be headed to Oklahoma City on a try-out basis. Details on him via Eric Rodgers “Also assigned to #OKCBarons, F Alexander Krushelnyski. Graduated from Colorado College where he had 101 points in 158 career games.” Follow Eric here.

Tuesday of NHL camp week, with at least two preseason games under their belts, the Edmonton Oilers have released a slew of players from their roster. Included in the list are nine players specifically sent to the Oklahoma City Barons.

So let’s start there, the players assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons are:

Tyler Bunz
Graeme Craig
Matt Ford
Mitch Holmberg
Connor Jones
Kellen Jones
C.J. Ludwig
Frans Tuohimaa
Josh Winquist

The two goaltenders, in Bunz and Tuohimaa are probably the most interesting of the bunch mainly because those are probably the first two assigned to the Bakersfield Condors when the time comes to trim the AHL roster. Craig, Ludwig are the lone defensemen here, and surprisingly Jordan Oesterle stays put with Edmonton. Jordan has apparently impressed the Oilers just enough to keep him around a bit longer.

AHL “goodie” Matt Ford, 118 point fella Mitch Holmberg, Josh Winquist, and the Jones twins round out the forwards. Matt Ford will likely stay in Oklahoma City, but Holmberg, Winquiest, and at least one of the Jones boys will be headed to California.

Vet center, Jason Williams remains, and there might just be some darkhorse to his game that the Oilers like (think Josh Green).

The following players were assigned elsewhere:

Ben Betker (Everett – WHL)
Keven Bouchard (Val d’Or – QMJHL)
Connor Boland (Peterborough – OHL)
Greg Chase (Calgary – WHL)
Jackson Houck (Vancouver – WHL)
Alex Krushelnyski
Kyle Platzer (Owen Sound – OHL)
Jordan Rowley (University of Alberta – CWUAA)
Marco Roy (Quebec Remparts- QMJHL)

Greg Chase is probably the most high-profile of the bunch, and indeed his trustworthiness at camp was proven. Another year in juniors, and he just might be one heckuva prospect to watch in 15-16.

More cuts to come. Barons training camp opens on the 29th, is open to the public, and will feature many familiar faces. See you then!

If I Could Design The Barons Fifth Anniversary Patch…

The 2014-15 AHL season begins very soon, and with it comes a bit of nostalgia for fans in Oklahoma City. When the puck drops in October it will be the fifth season of top-tier minor league hockey for the OKC Barons, and with it a sense of bravado.

To honor the occasion, I’ve designed my own Fifth Anniversary patch. No word yet if the team has created their own (I’m anxious to see what approach they take), but below you can see what I would do if I was designing one.

The Barons are a subtle stallion – quietly stampeding through season after season. Thus I’ve elected to go low-key in terms of the main color scheme. White, flanked by subtle text and graphics in the traditional Oilers orange and blue highlight an otherwise straightforward design. The ruffled edges will give the patch a less flat angle, while still feeling dynamic. Often these patches do too much, and get lost in the colors already on the sleeves of both home and away jerseys. I think the white stands out, and gives it a high visibility that might not be commonplace.

What do you all think? How would you design a OKC Barons Fifth Anniversary patch? I almost made it a brown bison, but thought better of it.

Anxious to hear your feedback and comments.

The Oilers Preseason, Split-Squad, Double-Dip Is Tonight

Two lineups, two cities, two very interesting preseason camp games. The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames get their first dose of in-game minutes when both teams host a split-squad game, both starting at 7CT tonight.

There are several players missing from the lineup (Eberle, Gernat, Pitlick, Hamilton, Davidson to name a few), and that’s not entirely surprising as the full-camp roster remains in tact over the last three days of activities. This also probably points to a “thinning” that will happen in the next day or two as minor league camp opens in just over a week.

Here are the split-squad lineups via the Edmonton Oilers (Calgary & Edmonton games):

Both games can be viewed online at EdmontonOilers.com or via their app. Enjoy

Edmonton Oilers Camp Update “Forwards”

Bring me your tired, your slightly out of shape, your unprepared – for we are the NHL training camps – we can cure what ails you.

The camps have begun which means that grainy phone snaps, and lengthy social media pondering can begin. Indeed the Edmonton Oilers have laced up their skates for the 2014 training camp, and this gives us (and the coaching staff) the first opportunity to size up the roster.

Nail is smiling. Jordan thinks he has another gear. Taylor is optimistic about the future (and Nuge’s weight gain). Dallas Eakins scowls through honesty. If the first day or two of camp could be summed up in one phrase it would be “typical consternation”, and that’s not a bad thing.

Eakins has always been an honest fella, and so when he riffed on there being only two NHL centermen currently with the team, it’s bound to raise an eyebrow or two.

“Right now we have two NHL centermen, and I have no idea whom the other will be,” said Eakins.

Indeed this comment came immediately after discussing “battles at camp” with a casual camera cut to Mark Arcobello riding a stationary bike. Of course.

Coach Eakins assumes the defensive core has been upgraded with full-time NHL defenders, and quickly points to a nearly complete group of wing forwards.

“There could be a spot or two open on the wing. It may only be one,” Eakins points out.

Again, the forward positions seem set in Eakins mind outside of the centers who will really have to duke it out for major league ice time. That’s a story that’s been developing for an entire year.

Once the team hits the ice for practice and scrimmage time we certainly will all realize more fully what the Oilers 14-15 will look like, and by extension the Oklahoma City Barons. Stay tuned.