Bolstered by Mark Arcobello’s arrival a month ago, the Oklahoma City Barons have been the American Hockey League’s hottest team the past five weeks.
The good news for Barons fans is Arcobello and everyone else on the roster, for now, will remain in OKC even though the Edmonton Oilers, the Barons’ NHL affiliate, traded two veterans before Wednesday’s trade deadline.
“Obviously, Oilers management realized how close we are to (a playoff berth) and didn’t want to tinker with the chemistry we have right now,” said Barons general manager Bill Scott. “They also know we have a lot of capable players they can call on when needed.”
Going 10-2-1 since Jan. 30, the Barons are back in the Western Conference playoff chase. Entering Wednesday’s road game at Utica they were three points out of the eighth and final playoff spot with 18 games remaining.
After spending the first three months with Edmonton, Arcobello has been the AHL’s leading scorer (19 points in nine games) the past month. For now he will remain with the Barons, who are gunning for their fourth consecutive playoff berth.
“When you’re fighting for the playoffs like we are, it’s always good to have a cohesive unit that’s played together several games after undergoing more than 100 roster transactions earlier this season,” Scott said.
On Wednesday, the Oilers traded Ales Hemsky to Ottawa and Nick Schultz to Columbus for draft picks, but Edmonton will go with a bare-bones roster to preserve three “free recalls,” hockey’s version of baseball roster expansion.
Edmonton won’t have any healthy scratches for any game, but if someone is injured, a call would be made to Oklahoma City.