The Oklahoma City Barons AHL roster has been in a state of flux all season, and that is not about to change.
Quite the opposite in fact as the Barons and parent club Edmonton Oilers have had a whirlwind few days of signings and roster moves.
The Barons have added a total of six players to their roster over the past week. They have signed WHL free agents Joshua Winquist from the Everett Silvertips, Graeme Craig of the Prince Albert Raiders and WHL scoring champ Mitch Holmberg of the Spokane Chiefs to tryout contracts.
They have also signed college free agent Jordan Oesterle who comes from Western Michigan to an entry level deal.
#Oilers draft picks Jujhar Khaira and Grwg Chase are heading to OKC to finish the season in AHL.
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) April 1, 2014
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 31, 2014
They have also added prospects from their own system in Greg Chase from the Calgary Hitmen and Jujhar Khaira from the Everett Silvertips once their teams were eliminated from WHL playoff contention.
Khaira, a 6’3″ 215lbs 2012 third rounder will be auditioning for a spot with the Barons next year, while Chase still retains a year of WHL eligibility.
Chase becomes the first underage player since Jordan Eberle in 2009 to be given AHL experience before his WHL eligibility is up. The Oilers hope the experience will further his already impressive progress.
Chase retains a year of WHL eligibility by the narrowest of margins, given his January 1 (1995) birthday, thus his current stint in OKC is destined to be a temporary one as he is inelgible to play in any pro league but the NHL next season. – Edmonton Journal
The Barons can certainly use the help as they are currently without regulars Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick, Will Acton and Oscar Klefbom, all of which have been called up by the Oilers and they are also missing top players Roman Horak and Denis Grebeshkov due to injury.
Currently sitting in 9th place in the AHL Western Conference, the team can use a boost of energy and skill, albeit inexperienced, to make their playoff push.
All six players will likely see time in the lineup, however where they slot in will be determined on a game by game basis no doubt.
On defense, even with the Grebeshkov injury they still have five regular defensemen in Taylor Fedun, Brad Hunt, Martin Gernat, Brandon Davidson and David Musil. Craig and Oesterle will battle Joey Leach for the 6th and 7th spots on the depth chart.
In terms of the forwards, injecting four new, fresh faces into the lineup right in the middle of a playoff race is not something a coach generally wants to do, however OKC bench boss Todd Nelson may not have a choice.
Being without Lander, Pitlick, Acton and Horak all at once puts a big hole in the lineup and a lot of pressure on players like Mark Arcobello and Andrew Miller.
All four players bring an element of offense that can help, but whether all four go in at once is a different story. Khaira brings an element of size and skill and Chase brings a valuable two way, agitating game that can be valuable come playoff time.
Holmberg and Winquist also boast impressive resumes, despite being undersized put up 118 and 93 points respectively. Homlberg’s 62 goals and 118 points for Spokane both led the WHL.
Holmberg and Winquist as well as Craig are headed to OKC on amateur tryout contracts, but specualation is that at least Holmberg has been signed to an AHL deal for next season.
The Barons are currently on the outside looking in and are hoping the new additions can plug some holes and give them enough of a jolt to put them over the top. They will also be watched closely by Oilers brass who will be using the remainder of the season to evaluate much of their young talent and see who is ready to take the next step.
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Carl covers the Edmonton Oilers for THW as well as providing additional prospect coverage. Follow him on twitter @carlTHW, connect on Facebook or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions, comments or if you’re interested in him writing for you.