The ice was still down at the Cox Center on Sunday.
But instead of getting ready for a holiday-weekend practice, the stage from recent graduations at the building remained over the surface as Oklahoma City Barons players shuffled in throughout the day for exit interviews with coaches and development staff before leaving for the summer.
Some players — such as Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen — are virtually assured of returning to the Edmonton Oilers organization, though they could play exclusively for the National Hockey League team next season.
Young players such as Hunter Tremblay and Tanner House are likely to play for the American Hockey League team in Oklahoma City again.
Others, like veterans Ryan Keller, Josh Green and Yann Danis, are unrestricted free agents. They could wind up returning to OKC, signing elsewhere in North America or heading overseas.
Defenseman Colten Teubert broke through and saw his first action in the NHL this season. But for the second consecutive season, an injury cut his year short.
This year, it was a puck to the face in the final game of the first-round playoff series against Houston.
“I think the best way to describe it is you're just stressed out all the time, pacing back and forth up there watching the games,” Teubert said. “Nobody likes to watch, I don't care if you're injured or a healthy scratch.”
Teubert made significant progress in his first full season with the Oilers organization. Between stints with Edmonton, he contributed to the Barons' 45-24-9 record and Western Division championship. Oklahoma City entered the playoffs as the top seed in the Western Conference.
“I'm definitely more mature as a pro because I was up and down so many times,” Teubert said. “Oklahoma really helped me out a lot, making me a better player.”
The end of the season was stunning for Teubert, who hoped to return if the Barons advanced to the Calder Cup Finals. Instead, the Barons were eliminated in the conference championship round by the Toronto Marlies.
“It's always surreal when you lose,” Teubert said. “I look at our team and I thought we were untouchable. But there's always guys out there or teams out there that have a standard. We want to get to that standard so that we can raise a cup, here or in Edmonton.”
Defenseman Alex Plante's future with the organization looked in doubt last year but a marked improvement this season — when he was healthy — is likely to lead to another chance at returning to the Edmonton organization. Plante is a restricted free agent.
“I did put my work in last summer, and I'm really pleased with how the coaches recognized it here and gave me an opportunity for me to get going,” Plante said. “It really helped my confidence to make that next step in my career, not be scared to make little mistakes and just kind of figure out the defensive zone, where I need to be ... everything kind of snowballed from there.”
Plante, who missed time with a pair of concussions this season, plans on taking a shorter-than-usual break after visiting his girlfriend in Europe.
“I've got to stay on the ice because if I get off, I obviously turn into Bambi,” Plante said. “It's actually kind of funny. It's honestly like I forget how to skate. I'm going to take my week and a half, two weeks or whatever and I'm going to try to get right back on the ice.”
Chris VandeVelde played a big part in the Barons playoff push to the conference finals. He had a team-best six goals over 14 playoff games. Through 68 regular-season games, VandeVelde scored seven goals. The 25-year-old center is a restricted free agent going into this offseason.
“I sure hope so,” VandeVelde said of possibly returning to the Barons/Edmonton Oilers organization. “It's a great place to play down here, and Edmonton's a great place to play as well. It'll be interesting to see this summer where I'm going to end up but I'd love being back here.”