The Oilers believe top young prospects gain invaluable playoff experience playing alongside a few veterans.
“Edmonton is very good at supporting what we do here,” Scott said. “They trust our management team, our scouting staff, our coaching staff. They understand the needs of an American Hockey League team.”
It's a team effort. Chris Cichocki, a former coach at Stockton, Edmonton's Double-A team, scouts the ECHL for the Oilers. Cichocki has supplied the Barons with impact Double-A free agents like defenseman Andrew Hotham and center C.J. Stretch.
“We want to know the ECHL players better than any organization,” Scott said. “When you lose guys at this level due to injuries or (NHL) recall it's tough to replace them and not have your team sink down. Chris Cichocki has done a great job.”
Barons coach Todd Nelson and assistants Rocky Thompson and Gerry Fleming have significant input on personnel additions. The biggest challenge for the staff is developing chemistry with players constantly moving between Stockton, Oklahoma City and Edmonton.
“Give Todd Nelson and his staff a lot of credit,” Olcyzyk said. “It's one thing to have players. But it's coaching that helps a team gel and have success like we're having down there right now, knock on wood. It's a team effort from everyone in OKC, our scouts, people in Edmonton, everybody.
“We're very excited. We know we have a good group down there starting with Bill Scott working through Todd Nelson down to the training staff. We feel it's the best staff in the AHL.”
The goal: Win the Calder Cup
Oklahoma City's playoff roster has no weaknesses.
The only area you could quibble is the power play has been mediocre. Every other aspect is solid. The penalty kill is much improved. The defense is much improved. The offense has two No. 1 caliber lines. The third and fourth lines chip in occasional goals.
The key variable is the Barons have a 31-year-old goaltender (Yann Danis) who has played at an extremely high level the past two months.
Oklahoma City had to scratch and claw to climb to the No. 5 seed. The Barons didn't clinch a playoff berth until the next-to-last day of the regular season.
But if the Barons hadn't added veterans like Cheechoo or Jones or Stafford they probably wouldn't have made the playoffs, much less have a shot at the Calder Cup.
“Another key factor is guys at the first of the season sent down to Stockton because the NHL guys were here, guys like Toni Rajala, came back with a great attitude,” Scott said. “They were good players for us right away.”
The Barons' success has bolstered Scott's resume.
A Unionville, Ontario, native whose mother was raised in Detroit, Scott was the team manager involved in areas like video work while earning a degree in business management at Michigan State.
Scott spent four years as the AHL director of hockey operations. His job description included everything from scheduling to assisting with fines and suspensions. He had similar duties as the ECHL director of hockey operations.
Three years ago, at age 29, Scott was hired to be the general manager of the Barons, Edmonton's Triple-A team that was relocating to Oklahoma City from Springfield, Mass.
“The goal is to win and develop players at the same time,” Scott said. “I think our track record is pretty good the first three years. We had a lot of players go up to Edmonton and play well and we've had some success here, too.”
Like Presti, Scott deflects credit.
Scott said players buying into the system and performing at a high level are the primary reasons the Barons have been one of the AHL's hottest teams the past two months.
“This is satisfying. We're on a good run, knowing we were in 11th at one point. But we won't be satisfied until we win the Calder Cup,” Scott said. “We got close last year. We want to win it for the guys in that room, for Oklahoma City, the entire organization.”