Young NHL stars will start season in Oklahoma City

With NHL players locked out, Edmonton Oilers youngsters Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz will begin the season with the AHL's Barons.
by Michael Baldwin Published: September 25, 2012
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Schultz, originally drafted by the Anaheim Ducks, was pursued by nearly every NHL team after he used a loophole to become a free agent this summer. He signed with Edmonton. Schultz is an offensive defenseman who can impact special teams.

“When you score a power-play goal, more often than not you win the game,” Scott said. “Teams are so even it can put you over the edge. Guys that have been skating with him this summer rave about his ability.”

The 30-team AHL will receive a boost in talent and exposure similar to the 2004-05 lockout, when attendance increased in many cities.

The Barons might benefit more than any other AHL team. The roster already was stocked with 16 players that played in Oklahoma City last season, when the Barons made a run to the Western Conference finals.

“Having a couple of guys who have had success on the NHL level will be perceived as an advantage,” Scott said. “We were going to have a very good team this year without those guys. We'll have a big target on our back.”

NHL contracts are frozen. Players with NHL experience like Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle will receive AHL contracts of $75,000.

Other young NHL players will play in the AHL during the lockout. Jeff Skinner, the face of the Carolina Hurricanes who won the Calder Trophy two years ago, will play for the Charlotte Checkers. New Jersey center Adam Henrique will play for Albany.

The lockout will have a trickle-down effect. Some players that will play for the Barons after the lockout will start the season with the Stockton Thunder in the East Coast Hockey League.

Edmonton last made the playoffs in 2006. The Oilers have had the No. 1 overall pick the past three years. Edmonton is viewed as a young team with a bright future led by three cornerstone players that will play in the Cox Convention Center during the lockout.

“Certainly we all wish the NHL was playing,” Scott said. “Whether it's a couple of weeks, a couple of months or the whole season, we don't know. But to be able to perform with some of their future teammates in Oklahoma City and develop some chemistry with them will benefit everybody.”


by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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Barons key dates

Sept. 30 — Training camp begins

Oct. 5 — preseason game vs. Houston

Oct. 6 — preseason game vs. Houston

Oct. 12 — Regular season opener at Lake Erie

Oct. 19 — Regular season home opener vs. San Antonio

Barons ticket information

The Barons have a variety of ticket packages available that range from group rates to 7- and 11-game individual packages and full season tickets for all 38 home games.

Call the Barons' front office at (405) 232-4625 for more information, or log on to okcbarons.com.

Admission to the two preseason games, Oct. 5 and 6 against the Houston Aeros, is free to the public with donation of goods or funds to Infant Crisis Services in Oklahoma City.

Suggested donation items include sippy cups, baby bottles, new or gently used toys, Good Start formula, diapers, baby shampoo, baby lotion, pacifiers and coats sizes 2T-6.

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