With the welcomed entrance of new players to the OKC training camp roster on close to a daily basis, the level of intensity and desperation has increased. I've gone from saying, "Jordan Bendfeld and Matt Marquardt look good" on day one to "Send Omark STAT!" Needless to say, camp has been interesting. With the long wait for players to be re-assigned from the Oil to the Barons going deep into the NHL preseason, players haven't tapped the brakes at all as they jockey for roster spots. Two players that I anxiously awaited, Hartikainen and Motin, arrived with a full head of steam. Ryan Aber from the Daily Oklahoma, had a very interesting article on Hartikainen and his disappointment about leaving Edmonton, but his optimism towards developing his game to the North American style. Frankly, I think he's developed nicely. And it's great to see a guy that he understands and embraces the development process. He realizes he is still a cog in the Oilers' crazy machine. Out of all those at training camp over the last couple of weeks, he seems to be the closest to snatching a spot on the Oilers' "Mothership".
The most disheartening moments have come from the goaltenders. Lackluster at best, even Bryan Pitton can't stay consistent. With the goaltending heavy Oilers roster it will be great to gaze on some decent goaltending in the coming days. Back to the ECHL (and a few other places) with several of these goaltending prospects!
The first intersquad scrimmage takes place this evening at 7:05 p.m. in the heart of Bricktown. The ice girls will be unveiled, Derrick the Mountain Lion will pose for pictures, and the Okie hockey faithful will get to see their team play for the first time in an organized event. Well, at least part of the team. In the wake of last night's game between the Coyotes and Oilers more assignments were made today in the form of Taylor Chorney, Colin McDonald, Jeff Petry, and Alex Plante. Phillipe Cornet, anxiously sorting out immigration issues, is stuck in Edmonton and plans to be in Oklahoma City in the next 24 hours. It's frustrating that we won't see the sharpest tools in the box tonight, but at least we'll see a few rusty hammers. The mood and attendance for the Blue/White game is hard to predict. For those that eagerly awaited the Barons in Oklahoma City it is a must-attend event. But will the casual sports fan or even the casual hockey fan know about the game? Even if they would be interested, will they find it? I've been slightly disappointed by the lack of air time on local sports outlets, but hey, it's hockey in Oklahoma so we'll take what we can get.
Over the next couple of days the morning skates and afternoon training sessions will continue. The team will be evaluated on every level by the GM and coaching staff, and a full roster will emerge around the time of the lone preseason game against the Texas Stars on October 2nd in Austin. As we move forward there is hope of a decent team in Oklahoma. Admittedly, I'm new to the Oilers behind-the-scene problems, and I don't pretend to understand the drama with the inner-workings of Steve Tambellini and crew, but so far I'm pleased with the attention given to the AHL Barons. Strong goaltending appears to be on its way, there's offensive fire-power that might garnish a few AHL All-Stars, and even the defense isn't all that shabby. Is it okay with Oiler fans if I give the management team in Edmonton a B+ with their assignments? Trust me, it's early. No regular season games have been played in the NHL or the AHL, and to make a judgment call this early would be trite. The off-season development and the move from Springfield might have given the Oilers AHL affiliate a shot in the arm. Either way, success or failure, I'm along for the ride, whether it's absolutely thrilling, or tilt-a-whirl sickening.