Four Barons playing in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout have compiled ridiculous offensive statistics a quarter of the way into the 2012-13 American Hockey League season.
Heading into a two-game weekend series at San Antonio, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and rookie defenseman Justin Schultz all are listed among the AHL's top dozen scorers.
Eberle, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins were the Edmonton Oilers' No. 1 forward line last season. Schultz is a rookie defenseman from Wisconsin University.
“It is pretty impressive,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “A lot of people expected that based on where they played the past couple of years. Hopefully that continues.”
The Barons have five players listed among the top 50 scorers in the 30-team AHL, including the league's top two scorers — Schultz (31 points) and Eberle (27 points).
To put in perspective how much of an impact they've made offensively, only two AHL players last season scored 80 or more points. No player reached 100.
Schultz is on pace for 121 points.
Eberle is on pace for 105 points.
Hall, who was rehabilitating his shoulder at the start of the season, missed eight games. If Hall had been with the Barons all season he would be on pace for 109 points.
“Our line has been pretty good lately,” Hall said. “It will change every game who is getting the points and who is getting the chances. For the most part that's what we're focused on, getting chances. We're just going to try to keep it going.”
There will be a change this weekend. Nugent-Hopkins won't play for the Barons the next month. Nugent-Hopkins stayed in Edmonton this week to undergo treatment for a sore shoulder. Next week the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft is expected to join Canada's junior world team.
Mark Arcobello will fill Nugent-Hopkins' center spot on the No. 1 line.
“It's like when somebody gets called up,” Nelson said. “You have to find the right combinations again. But we'll have guys coming back like Josh Green (and others). Obviously, Ryan is a great hockey player and will be missed. But we have some other parts we can insert as we move along.”
It's uncertain whether the Oilers' young stars will remain in OKC all season. NHL contract negotiations were making progress this week but hit another snag on Thursday. In the meantime, they're compiling insane stats for the Barons.
“They're going good right now,” Nelson said. “They're using each other real well in the offensive zone. They're getting their chemistry back to where it was last year in Edmonton. They're fun to watch.”
Barons at San Antonio
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio.
Radio: KXY 96.1 FM, Jim Byers play-by-play.
Scouting report: Following an eight-day layoff, the Barons close out a season-long, seven-game road trip. The South Division rivals have split two games this season. ... The Barons (11-6-3) are tied with Houston for second in the South Division. San Antonio (8-11-3) is in the cellar. ... OKC rookie defenseman Justin Schultz (31 points) and Jordan Eberle (27) lead the AHL in scoring. The Rampage is led by Jon Rheault (18 points) ... Oklahoma City's power play (22.5 percent) ranks second in the league. San Antonio is 18th (15.7). The Rampage, though, is sixth (85.6 percent) in penalty kill while the Barons are 28th (77.9 percent).