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Oklahoma City Barons Will Have Nelson, Thompson & Fleming Back Behind The Bench

Photo by <a href="" target="new">Candace Riley</a>, all rights reserved.
Photo by Candace Riley, all rights reserved.

Even though his candidacy for the Oilers head-coaching position was short-lived, Barons coach Todd Nelson will be back behind the bench in Oklahoma City in 2012-13. The Oilers announced the news yesterday:

General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have re-signed Oklahoma City Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson and Assistant Coaches Gerry Fleming and Rocky Thompson.

Neal reported on a Nelson radio interview yesterday as well:

"OKC is stuck with me for a few more years, and the way things are going I have a bright future ahead."

Joanne Ireland's take:

He didn’t even consider pursuing an NHL assistant coaching job as he is convinced he can gain more experience by overseeing the Barons.

2012-13 looks like it will be a true test of Nelson's coaching ability. In winning the Western Conference regular season title last season, Nelson directed a mostly veteran squad, interspersed with a few young, high-end talents. The Oilers handed him two veteran goalies with NHL experience, a bunch of AHL veteran forwards and talents like Linus Omark and Magnus Paajarvi along with heralded draft picks like Tyler Pitlick. He was forced however, to deal with a very young defense, but the Barons added Kevin Montgomery and Bryan Rodney as veterans to help out as the Barons lost Alex Plante, Colten Teubert and Taylor Chorney. But Nelson knows the Barons are about to get even younger:

"Now we’re looking at the board, thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re going to be even younger.’ "

The Barons are about to add Brandon Davidson, Taylor Fedun, Martin Marincin, Ryan Martindale (for a full season) Cam Abney (for a full season), and possibly Toni Rajala and Kristians Pelss. Even if two of them land in Stockton, five rookies and the youngsters left from last year's team make the Oklahoma City Barons one of the younger teams in the AHL.

If Nelson gets this team deep into the playoffs, a rebuilding NHL team will come calling next spring.