It's uncertain how long Edmonton's young, talented No. 1 line will play in Oklahoma City. But Barons fans have witnessed why Oilers fans feel good about the franchise's future.
Playing in the American Hockey League for OKC during the NHL lockout, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Justin Schultz once again put on a show Saturday night in a 5-2 Barons win over Milwaukee at the Cox Convention Center.
“The original plan was not to play them together, but they do have chemistry,” said coach Todd Nelson. “What people are seeing here is a top line in the National Hockey League. Remember, early in the season they weren't producing like everybody thought they would.”
They're producing now.
Schultz and Eberle are 1-2 in the American Hockey League in scoring. Nugent-Hopkins is in the top five.
It's rare in a 30-team league to have three of the top five scorers on one team.
“I think the big reason for that is the power play,” Eberle said. “We played together last year, so we've done it at the NHL level. When we came down here, we just wanted to contribute as much as we could. I think the power play is going to be a big key to our team this year.”
NHL owners and the NHL Players Association plan to resume negotiations on Monday. If a new deal is reached the next three weeks, Edmonton's young stars could be gone before the Barons' next home game.
Oklahoma City begins a seven-game road trip later this week. If the young Edmonton stars are still on the roster when the Barons return home Dec. 11, they might be here the entire season.
“You never know (what might happen),” said Nugent-Hopkins. “It's been a great experience so far. The fact we've been able to keep playing, building chemistry is huge for us.”