Edmonton has a few rookies in the AHL ready to break through
To start the American Hockey League season, the then on-going NHL labour dispute was probably the best thing to possibly happen to the Edmonton Oilers affiliate Oklahoma City Barons. Along with Jordan Eberle, several NHL caliber players found themselves in Barons uniforms rather than taking the ice at Rexall place to start the season. Eberle would play 34 games for the Barons before the start of the truncated 2012-2013 NHL season, contributing 51 points to the Baron’s fifth place Western Conference finish, the franchises third straight Calder Cup playoff berth since the franchise was re-activated for the 2010-2011 American League season.
Even after the likes of Eberle, Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins packed their bags for The Show following the signing of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Barons remained successful, coming within a game of reaching the Calder Cup Final, thanks to the likes of a number of promising Oilers prospects destined to join there brief NHL-calibre line mates soon.
4.) Mark Arcobello – Undrafted
The Barons regular season scoring leader Mark Arcobello scored a career high 68 points in 74 games in his third pro-season. Making his NHL debut Feb. 6 against the Dallas Stars, Arcobello was scoreless in 19 shifts in his lone NHL game. Touted by scouts for his outstanding shot and playmaking abilities, the 24-year-olds NHL chances are growing smaller, with rumours swirling that he will end up in Europe. He is quite small, standing at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, however his production in the American League shows that he does have some NHL capabilities. Instrumental in the Barons playoff run, Arcobello scored 20 points in all 17 of the Barons playoff games this season, once again leading the team. With their prospect pool already so deep, Arcobello’s NHL future may lie with another organization, where he will have to bulk up in size and continue carve out a niche as a faceoff expert if he is to ever see time in the NHL.
3.) Taylor Fedun – Undrafted
At a ripe 25 years old, Barons defenseman Taylor Fedun is a late bloomer and will have to prove himself, and fast, if he is to ever see time in the NHL. His first season in the American League after spending four with Princeton University was a solid one, scoring 27 points in 70 games. The 6-foot-0, 190 pound d-man is making strides in his development, demonstrating his keen skating abilities in the AHL playoffs, establishing himself as the top defensemen on the team upon the departure of Justin Schultz. The jury is still out on Fedun, who under the right circumstances could see himself on a third defensive pairing in the NHL. However with time not on his side, he will have to anchor the Barons defensive corps next season to earn himself a NHL call-up.
2.) Teemu Hartikainen – Round 6, 163 Overall, 2008 NHL Draft
23-year-old Teemu Hartikainen has been back and forth from the Oilers and the Baron’s since the 2010-2011 season. Playing in 52 NHL games throughout his career, Hartikainen has scored only 13 points. However, he has proven himself as a constitent player in three American League seasons. Hartikainen looked particularly strong in the playoffs this season, scoring 15 points in all 17 games. Touted by scouts as a skilled power forward, Hartikainens flaws lie in his skating abilities. Having just signed a two-year deal in the Kontinental League, he will have to proven himself there to earn a permanent spot in North American professional hockey, where the Oilers will still hold his rights as a RFA.
1.) Toni Rajala – Round 4, 101 Overall, 2009 NHL Draft
Behind Arcobello in playoff scoring is 22-year-old Finnish right wing Toni Rajala, scoring 16 points in all 17 Barons playoffs games in his first AHL season. Touted by scouts for his hockey smarts, Rajala is another small player, standing at 5-foot-10, 163 pounds, however he has explosive speed. Rajala played 46 games for the Barons this season, scoring 45 points. If it were not for the lockout and a cast of NHL stars donning Barons sweaters to start the season, Rajala would have played the entire AHL campaign in Oklahoma, however he benefited from time in the East Coast League, where he posted a dominant 38 points in 28 games. With concerns surrounding his size, Rajala has a bright NHL future if he bulks up. He romises to be one of the most exciting prospects to come out of Finland in a long time. Rajala will benefit from at least another year or two in the American League, where he will continue to prove himself as a point-per-game player.
Previously from Schopp:
More information on all of the above players (as well as hundreds of other prospects you need to know about) is in our 2013 Fantasy Prospects Report.. And for only $2.50 more, pick up the 2013 DobberHockey Keeper League Pack, which includes the 2013-14 Fantasy Guide and the 2013-14 Draft List.