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So I'm the Barons Blogger Now?

September 16, 2012, 3:04 AM ET [154 Comments]
Richard Cloutier
Edmonton Oilers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me on Twitter, please. You can follow my main account - @rdcloutier - It's pretty much a comedy account. Or my NHL/NHLPA protest page - @StopTheLock2012 - Which is pretty much a parody account. Either way, you'll be entertained for a while until I say something that offends you and you unfollow me. People get offended so easily nowdays.

Dear Eklund: Please get a picture of the Oklahoma City Barons logo for me to attach to blogs. It looks like we're headed for a long lockout, and I need something to write about. Yep, I'm naming myself the Official Hockeybuzz Blogger for OKC during 2012/2013.

The NHL Lockout...It's not all doom and gloom, folks. Actually, if you're the Oilers, the lockout...especially a season-long lockout...might be the best news possible. I did a blog on this subject about two weeks ago, about a day before someone with the Edmonton Journal wrote the same blog for their webpage. Funny how that seems to happen.

Here's a few points-of-interest if you're a fan of the Oilers/Barons:

- Barons games are going to be killer. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the best rookie in the NHL last season (sorry Gabe), will be there. Jordan Eberle, a Top 15 forward in the league, will be there. Justin "Credible" Schultz, the Oilers Next Big Thing, will be there. Two pretty decent Swedes named Magnus Paajarvi and Anton Lander will be there. In total, the Oilers have assigned 26 players to OKC...By my count, 12 of those players are or will become NHL players sooner or later. That's more than half of the entire 2014/2015 Edmonton Oilers roster, available to see live and in person at a ticket price 1/4th of what it costs to see games in Edmonton.

- I got asked about 10 times today why Taylor Hall didn't get sent down too. He's still considered injured, and injured players can't be sent to the minors. I've heard, although I can't confirm, that Hall could be sent down when he's healthy and if the lockout is prolonged. Just a thought: How is Taylor going to survive if Jordan is not there to tuck him in at night? Poor kid. Don't look under the bed.

- A lockout also means great things for Taylor Fedun, who is fighting to get his career back. During the 2011/2012 pre-season, Fedun looked like the Oilers best defenseman...which is sorta like saying Justin Timberlake is the best member of the Backstreet Boys, but I digress...Fedun broke his femur...well, actually, some idiot on the Minnesota Wild helped him break his femur...It can take a year or two to recover from that injury. A lockout places Fedun in the minors and gives him time to get back into playing again. Apparently, he physically is back to where he was a year ago, and now, it's more a matter of psychology. His femur has a titanium rod through the middle of it. Honest. He's a cybernetic organism. Living tissue over endoskeleton.

- The Oilers need time to evaluate Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen. More specifically, the demotion of Nuge and Ebs gives the Oilers a chance to play Maggy and Harti with the superstars to see if there's chemistry. If there is, bye bye Ales Hemsky for a 3/4 pairing defenseman. If there isn't, bye bye Paajarvi for a 3/4 pairing defenseman. Either way, the Oilers can use this opportunity to answer a question and fill a roster hole.

- Speaking of defense, it's a blessing to have time to play Justin Schultz at a pro level without it being full NHL-level competition. As much as Schultz is perhaps the best defenseman prospect around, he's a prospect; meaning, he isn't a Jedi yet. Pro hockey is a little different than college hockey, and Schultz is going to look like a rookie at least some of the time. When the NHL season starts, we'll know if Schultz is NHL-ready, and we'll know more about where he immediately fits into the roster. Maybe he'll be a 1/2 pairing guy playing 25 a night, maybe he'll be a 5/6 pairing guy playing 15. Maybe he doesn't belong in the NHL at all. Time will tell.

- So many questions to be answered this year in the AHL. Colten Teubert didn't really look NHL ready yet last season. Is he closer now? Ditto Alex Plante. How will Martin Marincin look? The boy has skills, but he needed to bulk up and get stronger. Could be a big-time NHL player in there, or there could be a big pile of nothing. It's time to find out. Or what about Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton and Ryan Martindale? Pitlick was bad much of last season, but turned it on near the end and in the playoffs. Hamilton and Martindale both struggled tremendously. Do one, all, or none of these guys have the right stuff for the NHL? We need a big step forward this season, people.

Some fans are predicting the Barons will tear up the AHL, but I'm not 100% sure. Keep in mind every other NHL team sent everyone on two-way contracts to the AHL as well. The AHL will almost be NHL-level hockey with all the talent there, so the Barons aren't guaranteed limitless wins. And if you look at the list of guys the Oilers sent down, the Barons will be icing a very young roster. The Barons could look and play much like the Oilers did last season: Brilliant one game, awful the next.

Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson is one of the brighter up-and-coming coaches in hockey, but he often won games last season by sticking to a disciplined defensive system. Perhaps a good thing for Nuge, Eberle and the rest to experience? From what I understand, Oilers Head Coach Ralph Krueger will be demanding a more defensive style of the big club when the NHL season begins, unlike former Head Coach Tom Renney, who viewed defense as an option, like adjustable head rests on a king-sized bed. Oilers management are serious when they say the team will challenge for a playoff spot in 2012/2013...only way that happens is if the teams takes a defense-first approach. Yes, THE TRAP. Shudder. Coming to an Oilers rink near you...ummm...at some point.

Smile. Big smiles, people. All is not lost. The Barons season is going to be amazing, and I'm here to help keep you entertained. Oh, and to help the Edmonton Journal writers by giving them blog ideas. The NHL might be down, but I'm not out for the count.
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