The overwhelming interest from you, the meticulous reader of Copper & Blue, for the Oilers roundtable discussions has prompted a minor league version that is as equally as entertaining and probably as cantankerous. Over the next week, you'll meet a handful of the Barons most devoted followers. Their love for Oklahoma City hockey and the baby Oilers is tried and true.
We begin today by looking at the top line of forwards from a year ago and compare them to what the team looks like for 2011-12. The loss of Alexandre Giroux, Brad Moran, and Colin McDonald cuts deep. As Oilers, their worth was only in that they improved the Barons greatly. Beyond that, their time was cut short to make way for developing players in a young Oilers system. However, between the three they netted 94 goals, and tallied 144 assists, and any way you slice it, that's a lot of missing offense. The question becomes, who steps up offensively for the Barons?
The roundtable today consists of Patricia, who's contributions to the blogging world at Artfulpuck are always entertaining; Scott, purveyor of the great minor league Oilers site OilFieldHockey.com; season ticket holder, photographer, and Barons chronicler, Candace who posts at A New Ice Age; Evan, the featured prospect writer for the notorious OilersJambalaya; Avid hockey fan, and Star Wars lover Jonathan; and, of course, your two lovable Copper & Blue writers, Neal and Eric.
Patricia: Let's see ... Alexander Ovechkin, Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Oh ... wait, that's my fantasy list! This is difficult to answer seriously since we are still awaiting final word on other players who might potentially end up here in Oklahoma City. Next week I could provide a much better answer, but for now, X, Y and Z will do a bang up job leading the Barons offensive charge. I'm the eternal optimist and am hoping for miracles here! (Hey, I also cheer for Notre Dame's football team, what did you expect?)
Scott: I expect Helmer, Teubert, Lander, and Tyrvainen to lead the Offensive Charge.
Candace: For me, it all depends on who Edmonton decides to leave here. Teemu Hartikainen & Linus Omark would be the obvious choices - IF they get stuck in the Edmonton log jam and fall back to OKC. They'll be looked upon as the "veteran" leaders, scoring-wise; having been through this before. If they're called up, I've got strong feelings about a guy like Mark Arcobello, who really started coming into his own late last season. I'd have no problems with all 3 guys assuming the "scoring by committee" role either, taking the places of Giroux, Moran, and McDonald.
Evan: While replacing someone like Giroux may sound difficult, defence was not a strong suit to his game. Great shot, smart reads but lack of foot speed hurt him at times. His production for Goals will be replaced by Ryan Keller. Ryan has a good track record and performs well in the playoffs as well. As far as Brad Moran, his game will likely be able to be replaced by a full year from Tanner House. I think fans of the Barons will be more then pleased with what he can offer the team over the season. Very smart player, strong in faceoffs and not easily moved off the puck. As far as McDonald goes, that goal production may not be reproduced by any one player but more so by committee. Hopefully Mark Arcobello will be able to continue from where he left off last season and produce timely goals. I suspect with deeper depth at scoring the goals that Colin was able to produce will not be missed like some would think.
Jonathan: I'm still a little burned at the loss of McDonald. I felt Moran and Giroux wouldn't stick around, but I thought they'd push harder to keep Mcdonald in the system. Sad to see him go. At this moment, I think a lot will fall on the shoulders of Hartikainen. We were a little spoiled last year with talent, and a lot of surprise talent at that. This means that we'll need guys who could slide through to really put more on the table. I was really hoping Toni Rajala was that guy. Seeing him cut means he wasn't ready for even the AHL, but that also means we have to fill that spot with another CHL or ECHL jump-up. Nothing against those guys, Colin Mcdonald proved last year that you can be written off and still show you have more than expected. I just was hoping to get some good Finnish flavor to work with Hartikainen. Though last year the Oilers shocked everyone by sending Omark down for a couple months, maybe they'll mistakenly send Eberle down....Let me dream ok?
Eric: Winning the Calder Cup with Binghamton last season, I imagine Ryan Keller will pick up right where he left off and lead the team in scoring. With the young talent this season, any one of Curtis Hamilton, Mark Arcobello, Tanner House, and Tyler Pitlick could do the same, but with the inevitability of injuries and call-ups(hell, it's already starting), there's a strong possibility that any of the aforementioned will have an interrupted AHL season. If Keller does get a call-up though, I like his chances for a longer stay than Giroux had last season.
Neal: This is a tough one mainly because tracking AHL talent can be a debilitating exercise. Guys who score, and stay in the minors are somewhat of an oddity (see Giroux). Guys that are hidden in plain site, then burst forth for the goal scoring title are just as rare (see McDonald). I fully anticipate a guy like Ryan Keller, who's consistently scored in various leagues, to lend a hand in the scoring department. If Lander and Hartikainen make the Barons squad, even if for a while, they'll certainly make some noise. And although he may not score 30+ goals, my dark horse pick to click this season will be Philippe Cornet. He's bulked up, and proved early in training camp that he's had a terrific offseason.
Join us tomorrow for another Barons roundtable where we discuss who will be the next Barons captain.