The Oilers will hold their annual postseason organizational meeting next week in Edmonton. Some decisions will determine which players will return to Oklahoma City and play for the Barons in 2013-14.
Of the 18 players in the playoff rotation, many will return next season, including some of the top players.
Mark Arcobello, the Calder Cup playoffs point leader, is a restricted free agent but is expected to re-sign with Edmonton/OKC.
The Barons offense will build around Toni Rajala, who finished second on the team in scoring (61 points in 63 games) despite spending half the season in Double-A.
“That's pretty good for a rookie. That's good for anyone in our league,” said Barons general manager Bill Scott. “I really like him at our level. The question is whether his game can transition to the NHL level where it's a more physical game. He'll get the chance to find out next year.”
How many veterans will the Oilers/Barons keep or re-sign?
The list includes: goaltender Yann Danis; team captain Josh Green; former NHL goals leader Jonathan Cheechoo and veteran defensemen Randy Jones and Garrett Stafford.
“It would be an AHL deal only for me,” said Green, who owns a house in Edmond. “I know Edmonton wants to develop its young players, especially on the power play, penalty kill and closing out games. Where that leaves me, I'm not sure. I'd love to come back. It's a great organization.”
One pivotal decision is whether the Oilers/Barons re-sign Danis, the 31-year-old veteran who showed his value the final three months of the season. If Danis plays overseas, or signs with another NHL organization, the Barons most likely would pursue a veteran goalie to play in front of Olivier Roy.
“I'm going to talk to Edmonton and see what they're thinking, whether I'm in the organization's future and go from there,” Danis said.
Heading into the offseason here's a breakdown of the roster:
(2013-14 roster projections)
With Edmonton Oilers
Teemu Hartikainen would have to pass through waivers to return to OKC. That won't happen. Hartikainen has logged 52 games with the Oilers the past three seasons and is part of Edmonton's future. ... Anton Lander, 22, has one option left and could be sent to OKC but most likely will open the season with the Oilers. ... Under contract with Edmonton for one more season, Ben Eager, 29, scored five playoff points to re-earn some trust with the organization as a physical presence that can chip in occasional offense.
With Oklahoma City Barons
American Hockey League All-Star Mark Arcobello (88 points) is small and doesn't have exceptional speed but is one of the top players in the AHL. Arcobello is a restricted free agent. The Oilers/Barons are expected to re-sign the 24-year-old, who has played in 210 games with the Barons. ... Rookie Toni Rajala finished second on the team in scoring despite spending half the season in Stockton (Calif.) where he was a Double-A All-Star. ...
Defensemen Taylor Fedun, Martin Marincin (a sparkling plus-28 rating) and Brandon Davidson are coming off solid rookie seasons. Fedun, 25, is a restricted free agent the Oilers are expected to re-sign.
Forwards Ryan Martindale, 21, and Tyler Pitlick, 21, don't score much but have a combined for more than 200 games of pro experience. ... Goaltender Olivier Roy played well in his brief audition in OKC (9-9-1, 2.77 goals against average) and should be the Barons backup goalie next season. ... Kristians Pelss (eight points in 20 games) showed potential in limited time and should get a shot at a larger role next season. ...
Forward Travis Ewanyk, 20, sat on the bench after a late-season call-up but could play a key role next season. Ewanyk is an NHL contract player the Oilers could want to test at Triple-A. Defensemen David Musil, 20, and Martin Gernat, who both joined the Barons late and didn't suit up for the playoffs, should vie for defensive depth vacancies during training camp.
With a new organization?
Colton Teubert, a restricted free agent, didn't make the playoff roster, but the former first-round pick has good size. Teubert might return but also could be on the trading block. ... It's uncertain whether Edmonton will re-sign defenseman Alex Plante, 24, and Philippe Cornet, who was part of the No. 1 line. Cornet, a restricted free agent, might be forced to sign with another organization. ... Andrew Hotham provided blueline stability after Plante was injured, but Hotham probably isn't part of the Oilers' future plans. ... Forward restricted free agent Antti Tyrvainen and goalie Niko Hovinen will play in Finland, their home country. ... Tanner House, 27, might have to sign with a new organization ... Defensemen Dan Ringwald, 26, and Nathan Deck, 22, aren't expected to be re-signed by the Oilers.
Team captain Josh Green, 35, could be at the top of the Barons' “veteran” free agent wish list. ... Center C.J. Stretch, 23, was signed, released and re-signed. Stretch's run in the playoffs (nine points, five goals) gives him a viable shot to land a deal with the Barons ... It's uncertain whether the Oilers/Barons will re-sign Yann Danis ... An unrestricted free agent, Chris VandeVelde, a 26-year-old forward, an anchor on the penalty kill, will be seriously evaluated at team meetings. ... Jonathan Cheechoo, 32, isn't the same player who led the NHL in goals seven years ago, but he was productive, finishing sixth on the team in scoring (44 points) despite playing in only 52 games, including the playoffs. Veteran defensemen Garrett Stafford, 33, and Randy Jones, 31, helped take the defense to a new level after they signed but are free agents.