The Oilers Rig

Dakar: Oilers’ Prospects Yet To Concede

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A week and a half ago, I took a cursory look at the Oilers’ prospects still in action out there in hockey land. Believe it or not, nearly ten days hence and not a drop of blood has hit the ground. Everyone’s still standing.

Let’s have a look at how things have turned out and where everyone’s headed.

OKC Barons

Since we last checked in…

**the Barons clinched a playoff spot. Finishing 8th in the West, the Barons are set to face the titanic Texas Stars (spits) in the first round. The first game is tonight (April 23rd). Here’s the sched for the series. And, here’s a great preview of the series.

**played a meaningless ‘rest-your-troops-and-give-the-kids-a-spin’ game. Graeme Craig (undrafted WHL defensemen; signed to AHL ATO for the balance of this year and an SPC for the 2024-15 season), Joshua Winquist (undrafted WHL forward; signed to an AHL ATO through the end of the 2013-14 season) and Frans Tuohimaa (182nd, 2011; signed to an ELC last April) all played their first pro games.

Tuohimaa especially impressed making 38 saves and posting a stellar .950 SV%. He even managed an assist! [massive sample size alert!]

Jordan Oesterle (undrafted NCAA defensemen; signed to a 2 year ELC last month) scored his first pro goal.

And, Khaira, Chase and the Jones brother all played.

**said farewell to the lumbering but loveable Steve MacIntyre from hockey, who was made team Captain, given the first shot of the shootout and given the first star of the game.

**seen their GM promoted to the bigs.

**and somehow managed to poison Darnell Nurse, who otherwise is showing well if still rough around the edges.

CHL Prospects

Since we last checked in, Mitch Moroz’ Oil Kings have found their conference final dance partner, The Medicine Hat Tigers. Through 3 games, the Oil Kings lead the Tigers 2-1 in the series. Their next game is tonight (April 23rd) in enemy Tiger territory. Moroz (32nd, 2012), 3 0-1-1 in the series, is 12 4-9-13 in the playoffs so far. He is struggling in the series and was moved off the Samuelsson line. Brian Swane reports with comments from head coach Derek Laxdal:

After scoring eight goals in Game 1, Edmonton has just four, including one empty-netter, in the last two games combined. In an effort to get things going, Laxdal moved Brandon Baddock up on to a line with Henrik Samuelsson and Reid Petryk, replacing Mitch Moroz, who had a couple of dynamite games earlier in the post-season but appeared frustrated from the outset on Tuesday.

“He’s struggling a little bit right now with his confidence and he’s got to get going but at this time of the season I’m not in the business of stroking egos,” said Laxdal. “You got to put the guys in that are going to play and I thought Brandon Baddock did a good job there and got things going.”

While clearly not a good sign, it is important to remember a short time ago Moroz was leading the team in playoff scoring and enjoyed a very good regular season. Moroz is for all intents and purposes a work in progress and with any luck he’ll force Laxdal’s hand and find himself back with Samuelsson.

Meanwhile, out in the Q, Marco Roy’s Armada defeated the Oceanic and are now in a heated battle with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Drakkar leads the series 2-1. Their next game is tonight (April 23rd) on home ice. Marco (56th, 2013), 3 1-0-1 with 6 shots on net in the series, is 16 4-6-10 through the playoffs.

An interesting sidebar for the Armada-Drakkar series is the contest of two potential 2013 2nd round picks. Going into the draft, the Oilers had picks 37 and 56 (return from the Cogliano trade). They used the 56th pick to acquire Marco Roy. The pick that became Drakkar’s Valentin Zykov (37th) was traded from the Oilers to the LA Kings in exchange for the 57th (Carrier), 88th (Slepyshev) and 96th (Platzer) picks. The Oilers subsequently traded the 57th pick to St. Louis in exchange for 83rd (Yakimov), 94th (Houck) and 113th (Muir) picks. Carrier has already been dealt by St. Louis to Buffalo as part of the Ryan Miller trade.

Lowetide has a recent run-down on the ins-and-outs of the 2013 draft day trades here. What’s interesting for us today, however, is that the Oilers’ remaining 2nd round pick from 2013, Marco Roy (56th), is going head-to-head with what would have been their other 2nd round pick had they not traded it, Valentin Zykov (37th). Zykov, who enjoyed a descent year (53 23-40-63), is clearly making an impact on the series and getting attention from the press. Not to be entirely overshadowed, Roy scored the game-winning goal last night to put Armada back in the series.

While these kinds of match-ups are largely meaningless to the players and teams involved, they give us fans something tangible to track and excite our interest.

The ECHL

The Oilers’ ECHL affiliate the Bakersfield Condors are in the midst of a first round contest with the Utah Grizzlies. They currently have the edge on the Grizzlies 2-1 in the series. Oilers’ fans ought to be invested in the fortunes of goaltender Laurent Brossoit (164th, 2011 Flames pick; part of return on Smid trade) and forward Mitch Holmberg.

Brossoit, who’s spent most of the season in Bakersfield since being acquired, put up very good numbers through the regular season: 35GPs 24W 9L 2OTL .923 SV%. In the playoffs so far, he’s played all 3 games (2W, 1L) and put up a handsome .945 SV%, including a shutout in the first game.

Holmberg (undrafted WHL forward, signed to an AHL SPC for the 2014-15 season) enjoyed a breakout season with the Spokane Chiefs (72 62-56-118). He’s just recently been nominated for WHL Player of the Year. He represents the Western Conference and is nominated against 2014 draft eligible Eastern Conference forward Sam Reinhart.

Through one AHL game, Holmberg has an assist.

In an effort to lighten the congestion of players up with the Barons and to give the rookie pro some playing time, the Condors have signed Holmberg through the playoffs and he is seeing his first pro action. So far he’s played two games and drawn a blank for boxcars. It would appear he’s struggling, or injured (I can’t find a record of either), as he was scratched for the last game.

The Condors’ next game against the Grizzlies is tomorrow (April 24th).

USHL

Aiden Muir (133th, 2013) and his Indiana Ice knocked the Green Bay Gamblers out of the USHL playoffs last week (3-1 in the series). Through 4 playoff games Muir is 1-0-1 for boxcars. 

Up next for the Ice is a best-of-5 series against the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Game one will go at home for the Ice on Friday, April 25th.

Amazingly No One Died!

There’s something truly odd about Oilers’ prospects surviving 10 days or so of playoff hockey and still living to tell the tale. Sooner or later these prospects will win whatever tin-plated cup they play for or lose and get tossed out of the rink for the balance of the season. For the moment, however, they are alive and fighting. Stay tuned!