Mark Arcobello will fill Nugent-Hopkins' center spot on the No. 1 line.
“It's like when somebody gets called up,” Nelson said. “You have to find the right combinations again. But we'll have guys coming back like Josh Green (and others). Obviously, Ryan is a great hockey player and will be missed. But we have some other parts we can insert as we move along.”
It's uncertain whether the Oilers' young stars will remain in OKC all season. NHL contract negotiations were making progress this week but hit another snag on Thursday. In the meantime, they're compiling insane stats for the Barons.
“They're going good right now,” Nelson said. “They're using each other real well in the offensive zone. They're getting their chemistry back to where it was last year in Edmonton. They're fun to watch.”
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Barons at San Antonio
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio.
Radio: KXY 96.1 FM, Jim Byers play-by-play.
Scouting report: Following an eight-day layoff, the Barons close out a season-long, seven-game road trip. The South Division rivals have split two games this season. ... The Barons (11-6-3) are tied with Houston for second in the South Division. San Antonio (8-11-3) is in the cellar. ... OKC rookie defenseman Justin Schultz (31 points) and Jordan Eberle (27) lead the AHL in scoring. The Rampage is led by Jon Rheault (18 points) ... Oklahoma City's power play (22.5 percent) ranks second in the league. San Antonio is 18th (15.7). The Rampage, though, is sixth (85.6 percent) in penalty kill while the Barons are 28th (77.9 percent).