The Oklahoma City Barons, farm club of the Edmonton Oilers, start their AHL season on Friday night against the Lake Erie Monsters. Listed below are the line combination they are expected to use to start the season and what to expect from each line.
Magnus Paajarvi – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
- Magnus Paajarvi gets the first look with super youngsters Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Paajarvi gives that line a speed element that usually would come from the likes of Taylor Hall. Paajarvi should fit in fine with the two. The question remains on whether or not the offense will be there.
A reason on why I’d rather have Paajarvi further down the lineup is not to overburden him with having to put up offense and have it be a sink or swim option for him right out of the gate. As long as Paajarvi thinks offense, he should have no problem settling into this line. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle should take to this like a fish does water.
Josh Green – Ryan Martindale – Tyler Pitlick
- A bigger line that will have more of a straight line style to it. Josh Green anchors this line as the grizzled veteran while 2nd year pros Martindale and Pitlick look to make an offensive contributions this season. It’s big years for Martindale and Pitlick as they look to belong and thrive at the AHL level. It’s a line that is short on speed but should be able to filter pucks towards the net and be dangerous around it. They should give opposing defenses issues with their size and strength.
Teemu Hartikainen – Anton Lander - Mark Arcobello
- Looks to be the default checking line that will get some looks in offensive roles from time to time. Anton Lander looks to be a two-way pivot that thrives at the AHL level. He struggled to gain traction at NHL level during his rookie season last season. Teemu Hartikainen is looking carve out a hockey niche anyway he can. Those two get paired up with a jack-of-all-trades type in Mark Arcobello. This unit figures to see a lot of penalty kill time.
Dane Byers – Chris VandeVelde – Curtis Hamilton
- A fourth line filled with big bodies that figures to bring a lot of crash and bang. Dane Byers has been a long time AHL vet and resident tough guy. Byers has plenty of agitation in his game. Chris Vandevelde has been around long enough to be known as a vet now and is looking to establish himself as a dependable player. Hamilton will need to bring more physicality to his game as he looks to carve out a pro career for himself.
All in all, The Barons should be a very entertaining team to watch at the AHL level. The thing that I am personally enamoured with is the amount of respect the Oilers youth are treating the AHL experience with. They aren’t looking at it as a vacation or don’t seem to be disenchanted with the NHL lockout and looking forward to the task at hand. The AHL is a league to be taken seriously and they are doing everything they can to make the Oklahoma City Barons a better team.