The Edmonton Oilers, parent club of the Oklahoma City Barons, have assigned forward Teemu Hartikainen to Oklahoma City.
Hartikainen, who has played with the Barons all three seasons in Oklahoma City, was recalled by the Oilers on Jan. 13 after the NHL lockout ended. The Finland native scored three points in 19 games with Edmonton.
A sixth round draft choice by Edmonton, Hartikainen scored 27 points, including 11 goals, in 37 games with the Barons before joining the Oilers.
Hartikainen gives the Barons an experienced forward that has 48 games NHL experience during his career.
The 22-year-old center has scored 74 points, including 31 goals, in 117 games with the Barons the past three seasons. He was a key factor in OKC’s run last season to the AHL Western Conference playoffs
The Oilers liked Hartikainen’s physical play around the net. Hartikainen probably still figures into the Oilers’ long-term plans but will work on his game in Oklahoma City.
The Barons are in the midst of a four-game road trip that continues Wednesday night against Chicago at Allstate Arena. This weekend the Barons play at Peoria on Friday and at Rockford on Saturday.
Oklahoma City Barons general manager Bill Scott announced the team has released forward C.J. Stretch.
Stretch signed a tryout contract with the Barons on Feb. 26, scoring a goal in his first game. Stretch scored six points in nine games with Oklahoma City.
He returns to the Ontario Reign of the ECHL. With the Reign, Stretch was one of the league’s top scorers with 60 points, including 27 goals, in 57 games.
Last season Stretch split time between the Reign and the Houston Aeros in the AHL. With Houston, Stretch played in 23 games and registered six assists.
The Oklahoma City Barons have recalled defenseman Nathan Deck from Stockton.
Deck, 22, joined the Barons in December and recorded an assist in his first American Hockey League game. He scored six points in 25 games with the Thunder before being sent to Stockton in the ECHL.
With Stockton, Deck recorded 22 points, including seven goals. Over two seasons with the Thunder, Deck has scored 48 points in 88 games.
Before turning pro, Deck played four full seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders in the Western Hockey League. In 272 games with Prince Albert Deck scored 118 points.
The Oklahoma City Barons signed defenseman Kendall McFaull on Monday. Originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2010 NHL draft, McFaull recently finished a four-year career with the Moose Jaw Warrios in the Western Hockey League.
During his four seasons with the Warriors, McFaull scored 58 points in 269 games. This past season he compiled career highs for games played (17), assists (15) and points (20).
The Edmonton Oilers sending goaltender Olivier Roy to Stockton in the ECHL is an indication the organization wants to take a long look at Niko Hovinen the remainder of the season.
Roy is still on Edmonton’s radar. The 21-year-old Quebec product, who speaks with one of those cool Canadian accents, has been hot the past month, including his first stint in Stockton (3-1-1, 1.23 goals against average) last month.
Roy also has played well with the Barons, improving to 9-9-1 with a 2.77 GAA with the Barons. Roy posted two quality road wins in tight games in San Antonio to move the Barons into the eighth and final playoff spot before some team probably passes them this weekend when OKC is idle.
Hovinen is 24. The Oilers picked him up off waivers from Philadelphia on Jan. 25. Hovinen is 4-4-2 with a 3.40 GAA. Even though Roy might be the better long-term prospects, Hovinen, 6-foot-7, has shown some flashes.
The Barons have veteran Yann Danis, last year’s American Hockey League goalie of the Year, who recently returned from Edmonton where he saw limited action backing up starter Devan Dubynk.
The storyline to monitor the rest of the season is how many games does Danis start the final 17 games of the regular season. With some games in hand, OKC is in position to reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season but are far from a lock.
The Oilers most likely want to reach a conclusion on whether they want to keep Hovinen in the organization. But how much will Hovinen play?
Does Danis get more starts to try and improve playoff possibilities?
Also, would the Oilers consider promoting Roy for the playoffs if he stays hot in Stockton and the Barons qualify?
Barons goaltender Olivier Roy, who recently won back-to-back road games against San Antonio, has been assigned to Stockton in the ECHL by the Edmonton Oilers.
Roy is 9-9-1 with a 2.77 goals against average and 90.2 saves percentage in 22 games with the Barons. A 21-year-old second-year pro, Roy also was 3-1-1 with a 1.23 GAA in an earlier stint with Stockton.
The Barons had an a third goaltender on the roster when Edmonton returned veteran Yann Danis to Oklahoma City after Oilers veteran Nikolai Khabibulin was activated off the injury list.
Oklahoma City’s other goaltender is Niko Hovinen, who the Oilers picked up off waivers earlier this season. Hovinen, age 24, is 4-4-2 with a 3.40 goals against average with the Barons.
The Barons return to action Tuesday night when they host Rochester at the Cox Convention Center at 7.
The Oklahoma City Barons released defenseman Brett Clark from his American Hockey League contract on Wednesday amid speculation Clark will sign with the Minnesota Wild.
“When Brett chose to sign in Oklahoma City we agreed that if he was to receive an NHL offer he felt was worth pursuing we would release him from his contract,” said Barons general manager Bill Scott. “Brett was a positive influence on and off the ice for our team. He earned this opportunity and we wish him much success.
Clark is a 36-year-old veteran who has appeared in 681 NHL games, including playing in all 82 games last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In 18 games with the Barons Clark scored 17 points, including 16 assists and posted a plus-7 rating.
The Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday assigned center Anton Lander to the Oklahoma City Barons.
Lander was recalled by Edmonton on Jan. 31 but has been sidelined a month with a broken foot after appearing in four games with the Oilers. In 39 games this season with the Barons Lander has scored 10 points, including three goals.
The Oilers’ second-round draft choice in 2009, selected 40th overall, Lander has played in 60 games the past two seasons with the Barons after playing four seasons in the elite league in Sweden, his home country.
The Barons next game is Wednesday night at San Antonio.
Houston Astros owner Jim Crane said Thursday at training camp in Kissimmee, Fla., he is contemplating moving their Triple-A affiliate to an area north of Houston, according to a Houston Chronicle blog.
Nothing is imminent. Last September the Astros signed a two-year deal with the Oklahoma City RedHawks, who are run by Mandalay Sports Entertainment.
Regardless of the Major League affiliation the RedHawks will remain in Oklahoma City and play at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
“This is a viable business that’s staying here,” said RedHawks president and general manager Michael Byrnes. “We may have a different partner down the road if that’s what the Astros want to explore but the RedHawks as an organization will continue to be in Bricktown.”
Crane is considering relocating their Triple-A team to The Woodlands, a suburb 30 miles north of Houston. That area currently doesn’t have a stadium. Crane also would have to purchase a different Triple-A team.
“Something closer could certainly enhance the brand,” Crane told the Chronicle. “Our group likes it. We’ve studied it, looked at the numbers… You want to try and stay out far enough so you don’t really distract from your big league team.”
Oklahoma City was home for the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate for 28 years before Nolan Ryan purchased a team in Round Rock, Texas, and moved the team there.
After the Rangers left OKC, the RedHawks signed a two-year deal with the Astros. Last fall the RedHawks signed a two-year extension with the Astros that runs through the 2014 season.
The Rangers are an example of a minor league affiliate being near the Major League team. The Rangers’ Double-A team, the RoughRiders, is located in Frisco 40 miles northeast of The Ballpark in Arlington.
“(Our) Triple-A club is owned by a private equity company. That doesn’t make any sense,” Crane said. “We’re in (Oklahoma City) which is a good spot. We’re doing fine there. But if we can improve that as that contract expires in a couple years we are all over those opportunities.”
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.