The Oklahoma City Barons will be a big beneficiary of the NHL lockout. They will be the recipient of some Grade A talent from the Edmonton Oilers that should make them a very exciting and well rounded team at the AHL level. Here, I will have a look at potential line combinations and how that will help the team and how it will help some of the individual prospects in their search for a regular NHL spot. Line combinations listed below are my own projections.
Teemu Hartikainen – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
A line that will be very dangerous on the cycle and once the puck gets near the net, opposing defenses will be in panic mode. Hartikainen will get his shot to see if he can grasp a scoring role as he continues his trek on becoming a scoring power forward. This will be his best opportunity. The Oil Barons would be wise to give him his shot as the Oilers are looking for scoring power forward types on their club. Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle should be able to feed off each other with their sublime offensive talent. They should be able to do a lot of damage on the power play as they did with the Oilers last season.
Magnus Paajarvi – Anton Lander – Tyler Pitlick
The reason why I don’t have Paajarvi on the first line is because I believe Lander and Paajarvi should be joined at the hip, forging some two way chemistry that they will be able to use at the NHL level. It could become a future 3rd line on the Oilers and should be brought along as such. Pitlick riding shotgun on this line will allow him to become a demon on the forecheck and help him score some goals to get his confidence going. Pitlick is a robust player that the Oilers can use in the very near future as a player that can create space for the young superstars in the making. This will be a great opportunity for Pitlick and help him get his progress back on track.
Josh Green - Chris Vandevelde - Mark Arcobello
This will be the default checking/veteran line that will take up that role until Paajarvi and Lander are comfortable in handling tough competition. OKC will need veteran presence and players who will be responsible in all zones and these three AHL veterans fit the bill. This is a dependable line that should be able to chip in a few goals. Green is the elder statesman of the Barons, having stints in the NHL and a pro vet of 15 seasons. Vandevelde gets more responsibility as he moves inch by inch up the depth chart. Arcobello gets a chance to continue to prove himself on the Barons as a diminutive scorer who can play in all zones.
Curtis Hamilton - Tanner House - Antti Tyrvainen
A robust 4th line that should contribute some modest offense. The main goal of this line is to create havoc and finish checks. Curtis Hamilton is a player the Oilers have an eye on to see if he can take a step to becoming an NHL player. Hamilton is a big bodied player who could stand to become more physicality in his game and create space for himself. Tyrvainen is a pepper pot who will hit anything. House is a player that is looking to establish himself as a pro.
Extras : Philippe Cornet & Dane Byers
How does Philippe Cornet go from being the leading goal scorer to being an extra forward? Well, the lockout does not help his cause as the extra NHL bodies will be given first dibs on those scoring spots. To go along with the Oilers have other players they need to get a gauge on quickly to see if they can make the grade. If a player like Hartikainen falters, Cornet can pick up that spot, otherwise he may have to look at redefining his game as a checking line player, at least until the lockout is done. Byers will fill in as the resident tough guy/agitator and will give the lineup some muscle when needed.
Taylor Fedun – Justin Schultz
Fedun and Schultz should prove to become future Oilers once the lockout is done. The two together should provide with offense from the defense as well as mobility and puck moving ability. While they may not be asked to be the shutdown pair and face top lines, they should get a lot of ice time via the power play and 5 on 5. If the Barons are looking for a goal, expect these two to be on the ice.
Dan Ringwald – Colten Teubert
These two are expected to be a shutdown pair and take a lot of the shots that will be directed to towards the Barons goal. The Barons will have an offensive heavy team, so the balance and dependability this pair gives will go a long way towards wins. Ringwald has impressed in his short time with the Barons, while Teubert looks to take the next step towards being an NHL player. It’s a big year for Teubert and his development.
Martin Marincin – Alex Plante
Marincin starts his first full season as a pro after getting a small taste to finish last season. Marincin figures to get some power play looks as he owns an above average shot. Plante is back for another season with the Barons. He enters his 4th season in the AHL and now is expected to take on more of a leadership role even though he is only 23. Plante led all Barons defensemen with a +16.
Extras: Brandon Davidson – Teigan Zahn
One of these two will likely spend time in Stockton in the ECHL while the other will likely be the seventh d-man on the Barons. Davidson enters his first pro season after spending three seasons in Regina of the WHL. Davidson is a two way defender who can help a team out in a variety of situations and is very responsible defensively. Zahn is a product of the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, spending five seasons there. Last season Zahn played for the University of Calgary in the CIS. Zahn plays a tough, hard nosed style.
Danis figures to be the starter again after being the starter last season. He had a really strong season with the Barons last season, owning a 2.07 GAA and a .924 save percentage, 26 wins in 43 games. Danis is a big part of the team defense and will need to have another strong season as the Barons look to establish themselves as one of the best AHL teams. Danis will take on a veteran role like he did last season with the Barons.
Roy had a solid season with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL and now get a chance at the next level to be the backup for the Barons. Roy had solid numbers with the Thunder, posting 2.49 GAA and a .925 save percentage. 16 wins in 40 games. Roy with get some competition from new pro Tyler Bunz, but Bunz figures to start his pro career in Stockton. Bunz should be a capable third goaltender if he is needed in Oklahoma City.