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Revamped Barons roster making playoff push

Mike Baldwin Modified: June 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm •  Published: March 7, 2013

Roster shuffling is common in Triple-A hockey. But this season has featured even more transactions due to the NHL lockout.

The Barons collecting 15 standings points in their last 11 games could be a sign a revamped roster is starting to jell.

“We’ve kind of settled in a little bit,” said coach Todd Nelson. “I like where this team is.”

The first 30 games, the Barons were extremely young but four young Edmonton Oilers stars compiled eye-popping offensive statistics.

After the lockout ended Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz, Teemu Hartikainen and Magnus Paajarvi joined the Oilers.

Barons general manager Bill Scott methodically filled roster spots with veterans with NHL experience and players from Stockton in the ECHL.

The first veteran Scott signed was Jonathan Cheechoo, who has scored 563 points in 13 professional seasons, including 305 points in the NHL.

Scott later signed Brett Clark and Randy Jones, two veteran NHL defensemen with a combined 1,046 games of NHL experience.

“Our veteran presence has been excellent in the locker room and on the ice,” Nelson said. “When things get hectic they’re a calming voice. All those guys, plus (team captain) Josh Green, has been very good for us.”

The Barons also have benefitted from players like Toni Rajala and Philippe Cornet, who were All-Stars with Stockton in the ECHL. Recent ECHL additions Eric Hunter and C.J. Stretch also have chipped in.

“Some of the guys called up from the ECHL are playing very well for us,” Nelson said. “They complement guys like Cornet, Cheechoo, Arcobello and Rajala. It gives us a different dynamic.”

Oklahoma City is tied with Rochester for ninth place in the Western Conference. The Barons, though, are only one point out of eighth, only two points out of sixth and seventh. And OKC has played four less games than Lake Erie and Abbotsford.

The Barons return to action Friday and Saturday at home against Rockford.

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