When the Edmonton Oilers' top young stars played in Oklahoma City last year during the NHL lockout, it forced players such as 2011-12 American Hockey League All-Star Philippe Cornet to start the season in Double-A.
“Last year was unique,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “You just don't see work stoppages where three first-round picks and a coveted free agent that all 30 NHL teams wanted come down to play in the AHL. That will never happen again.”
The Barons open training camp Monday morning at the Cox Convention Center. Many of the players at Monday's first practice eventually will be cut or reassigned to Double-A affiliate Bakersfield (Calif.) in the ECHL. Some of the Barons top players will be players cut later this week by the Edmonton Oilers.
“There's been quite a bit of turnover. We'll be very young, but I think we'll have a really good hockey team,” Nelson said. “Competition (for roster spots) will be really good. Watching some of Edmonton's preseason games, a lot of guys are playing well. Some of them eventually will be here.”
Here's what the Barons roster might look like when they open the 2013-14 season at home Oct. 4-5 against Charlotte:
Forwards: If Edmonton cuts Linus Omark, the former Baron would highlight OKC's No. 1 line. Other players in Edmonton's camp that might be cut include Barons veterans Ben Eager, Mark Arcobello, Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick or Curtis Hamilton.
Others on the Edmonton bubble include 28-year-old NHL veteran Mike Brown; former Toronto Maple Leaf Will Acton and AHL veteran Matt Ford.
The Oilers like Jesse Joensuu, a 25-year-old center from Finland, but he might need some AHL seasoning. Among players currently on the Barons roster, Andrew Miller scored the overtime game-winning goal for Yale in last year's NCAA championship game.
Ryan Martindale and C.J. Stretch, return from last year's team that reached the Western Conference finals. Derek Nesbitt and Cameron Abney have a good shot to stick. Kale Kessy, 20, is an intriguing prospect who could start the season in OKC or Bakersfield. Austin Fyten, 22, also is fighting for a roster spot. Travis Ewanyk, 20, is also in the mix.
Defensemen: A couple of OKC's top defensemen are still on Edmonton's roster. Taylor Fedun, who proved last year with the Barons he's overcome a horrific broken leg he suffered two years ago, is on the bubble. Other defensemen the Oilers might cut include Corey Potter and Antov Belov, a highly regarded prospect from Russia.
On Sunday, the Oilers reassigned three defensemen, including AHL veteran Brad Hunt and Oscar Klefbom, a first-round pick out of Sweden in 2011. Another Edmonton cut on Sunday was Martin Marincin, who posted one of the AHL's top plus/minus ratings (+20) last season with the Barons.
Already with the Barons, Brandon Davidson returns. Martin Gernat, 20, is one of the Oilers' top prospects. Joey Leach, 21, might stick or start with Double-A Bakersfield.
Goalies: The Barons' No. 1 goalie will be Richard Bachman, a 26-year-old NHL veteran who started 32 games with the Dallas Stars the past two years. Bachman signed a contract worth $225,000 if he plays in OKC, $650,000 if he's promoted to the NHL.
Bachman was cut by Edmonton but must clear waivers to officially join the Barons. Tyler Bunz might have more upside, but Olivier Roy most likely returns as the Barons' backup.