The Oilers organization has a few decisions to make this Spring. That includes players who were Oklahoma City Barons for most of this past season, who are about to become Restricted or Unrestricted Free Agents. To mis-quote The Clash: Who Will Stay and Who Will Go, Now?
Of the three UFA’s on the Barons roster, one has to think that both Ben Eager and Denis Grebeshkov have seen their very last action in Oilers or Barons silks. They were only in OKC to begin with because they couldn’t crack the Oilers roster, and now they’re blocking prospects. That’s death for an AHL player. Grebeshkov is likely headed back to Russia. Ben Eager…who knows?
A 3rd UFA, Taylor Fedun, must surely hold some interest for Craig MacTavish. It would not appear as if he is in the long-term plans of the big club. But with his size & puck handling abilities, can’t you see the 26-year-old being useful depth for the parent club, while playing full-time in OKC? Injuries are inevitable, and Fedun would fit that bill nicely. Plus he’s an Edmonton kid.
More importantly, though, Taylor Fedun could be a more mature blue-liner alongside the organization’s many young and developing defencemen poised to play in the AHL this coming season. Fedun had already grown into that role this past year, and would be a welcome tutor in a vital season of blue-line development to come.
There are 6 Barons who are poised to become RFA’s. Curtis Hamilton and Andrew Miller are AHL’ers, with no significant role with the big club within reach for either one of them. Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick and Roman Horak, on the other hand, all have a shot at making the Oilers this Fall. Lander might have the inside track, although it could be argued that Horak was the most effective of the three down the stretch. The Oilers will return all three, I’m sure.
But for my money, Richard Bachman is potentially the most valuable guy on this RFA list, even if Lander or Pitlick have higher ceilings. Bachman was lights-out for OKC this season, a huge reason why they made the playoffs, and acquitted himself really quite well for the Oilers in a very brief NHL stint. To be clear, he is an AHL goalie, but he’s the good kind, able to give you capable enough play over short stretches.
Don’t get me wrong. Laurent Brossoit holds tremendous promise. If his current ECHL season is any indication, then Ladislav Smid is destined to become the answer to a trivia question: Who did the Oilers trade to acquire their #1 goaltender? But that’s a big “if”. Brossoit really needs 2 more full years in the AHL, ideally one as an apprentice, another as a starter. And there’s no real guarantee that he’ll accomplish either. Whereas Bachman is a known quantity, predictably average, if you will.
Make no mistake about it: If either Ben Scrivens or Viktor Fahst were to get injured, it would be Bachman, and not Brossoit, Takin’ Care of Business in Edmonton this season.