The Oklahoma City Barons have 26 players on the roster but only 20 can dress for games.
Only the top four forward lines are expected to play in the season opener Friday night at Lake Erie. The fifth line might play in the second game Saturday afternoon.
“We’ll try to get fresh guys in there Saturday,” said coach Todd Nelson. “We have a quick turnaround. We’re going to try to manage the best way we can. Sometimes they’re easy decisions to make because of the play of the player. Other times it will be very difficult if you have all guys playing good. It’s hard to take guys out.
“It’s healthy competition. Once you’re in the lineup you have to make sure you stay there and you work hard and you produce.”
During the lockout some players will be auditioning for NHL jobs, players like left winger Teemu Hartikainen, who split time between OKC and Edmonton last season. With a solid showing Hartikainen has a good chance to join the Oilers after the lockout.
“This is a good chance for us all to play with good players,” Hartikainen said. “There will be a lot of scouts, coaches, GMs in the stands every night we play.”
Center Antti Tyrvainen is nicked up and might not travel with the team to Cleveland.
“I know in his mind he wants to play but we’re at the point with the start of the season we have to make sure guys are 100 percent ready to come back before we insert them,” Nelson said. “This is not playoff time where you want a certain player in the lineup and has to play hurt, play through it. We have the luxury of having healthy bodies in there.”