In a rare Edmonton Oilers win earlier this week, three former Oklahoma City Barons accounted for all four goals. It's an example of a revolving-door roster Barons coach Todd Nelson and his staff have dealt with the first month of the American Hockey League season.
The trickle-down effect from the Oilers' rash of injuries has been numerous call-ups.
With a slew of new players on the roster, Nelson used the AHL's version of a bye week to work on systems play heading into a stretch of four games in eight days, starting with a road game Saturday night at San Antonio.
“It was a good week to get some work in but also a good week to get some rest,” Nelson said. “I gave the guys off Sunday and Monday, a chance to be with their families. I think that's important.”
Next week, the Barons play three home games — the traditional kids field trip matinee Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and a Friday/Saturday doubleheader with Abbotsford.
“When somebody new comes in you treat them like part of the family,” said forward Brad Hunt. “The long week helped the new guys. We're just trying to get everyone on the same page.”
Tied for ninth in the Western Conference, Oklahoma City (5-6-1) has been inconsistent offensively. In their five wins, the Barons have averaged nearly four goals. In the seven losses, they've averaged only 1.1.
“If Edmonton had a healthy roster and we had a healthy roster this wouldn't be an issue,” Nelson said. “Changes are always an issue at this level but we've been thin up the middle. Getting (center) Anton (Lander) back will help.”
The Barons also had two players assigned to Oklahoma City on Friday, veteran enforcer Ben Eager and ultra-talented Linus Omark, the Barons' leading scorer who was up with Edmonton only two days.
“When Edmonton starts getting healthy you'll see other guys pushed down to us,” Nelson said. “Edmonton has already lost close to 100 man games. That's unheard of for early November.”
Once the roster settles — as settled as a Triple-A roster can get — Nelson likes this team's long-term potential. The Barons are relying on talented but young defensemen, a handful of veterans forwards and two young goaltenders.
“The new guys we've brought in have done a fantastic job. They're pushing to be part of this team the entire year,” Nelson said. “It's going to be very competitive. I like the way our guys played our last game. We just need to keep playing like that.”