THE TEAM TODAY: Camp Continues
Second day of training camp in Oklahoma City as Paajarvi, Schultz, Green and coach Nelson comment
CAMP CONTINUESOKLAHOMA CITY - Monday was Day 2 of training camp for the Oklahoma City Barons as the group of 34 skaters took part in off-ice sessions followed by a spirited practice for 90 minutes. The team was split once again down the middle into two smaller groups making for a pair of practices.
In the first group, Magnus Paajarvi skated with Ryan Martindale and Mark Arcobello with Justin Maylan subbing in on the line. The other two lines were Antti Tyrvainen, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kristians Pelss and Phililppe Cornet, Anton Lander and Jordan Eberle.
The second group had Curtis Hamilton, Josh Green and Cam Abney as one line, Teemu Hartikainen, Eric Hunter and Toni Rajala as second line and Dane Byers, Chris VandeVelde and Tyler Pitlick as the third unit. Tanner House subbed in on Hartikainen's line.
Barons head coach Todd Nelson was excited to be able to start camp with a full squad as normally when Barons camp opens a good chunk of the team is still playing pre-season games with the Oilers.
"It feels really good. I think everybody's chomping at the bit to get things going. We've had two really good days of training camp. The guys look good out there and they're really excited," stated Nelson.
"I felt before we even got those guys we'd be very strong. 16 guys returning so when you add those three players it gives you a different dynamic. With the type of people that they are, all three players, it's not an issue of them trying to mesh in. They've got great character and they're good people."
The Barons ended the season with a third-round playoff loss to the Toronto Marlies. It's a loss that remained on the mind of Nelson throughout the off-season.
"I thought about it all summer. With the way the series went, what we could have done better. When I look back on it, our guys played hard. (Marlies netminder) Ben Scrivens played outstanding. He was the difference in the series. Maybe with an extra goal here and there things could have changed but that's over and done with. We're trying to build off of what happened last year and we have unfinished business to attend to."
Josh Green, in camp on an AHL contract this season after being property of the Oilers in 2011-12, agreed with his head coach. The veteran remarked that the season was overall a success but now they want to take it a step further.
"(The loss to Toronto) was disappointing for sure. We had higher expectations than what we did last year. I felt we came up short in that series against Toronto," he said. "I thought we had a good chance if we were to make it in the Calder Cup Final."
'REINFORCEMENTS' FITTING IN
Helping to get the team over the hump are the much-talked-about reinforcements. Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins figure to make the Barons a dynamic team to watch.
Todd Nelson said that the additions will make everybody better.
"From a coaching standpoint, it makes things a lot easier to have those people integrated into our lineup. So far, so good. They're all the same age as anybody else here. A bunch of young guys who have a lot of talent," Nelson began.
"I'm going to coach the same, with my system work. That's not going to change but what this does do is we have a different element on the power play, off the rush and in the offensive zone. I think for other guys to watch what they do, I think it's going to improve their game. Especially when you practice against each other all week and you get ready for the games, it's going to make everybody else better. There's going to be a higher level.
"And the other young guys we have, they're one year older and more experienced. I think everybody looks a lot better this year."
Green added that the additions have fit in very well so far.
"It's not that hard for them because they're so personable. They've come here and fit right in. I've spent some time with them with the fitness testing and a round of golf. They come down here with no ego, which is huge. Sometimes guys will come in and feel they shouldn't be in a certain situation."
Green also stated that just because the team has a dynamic lineup doesn't necessarily mean the success will come easily when games start to count.
"We're good on paper but that doesn't go very far. It looks good on paper. We have to prove it on the ice and we know every team is going to be gunning for us. We're a good team and teams are going to want to see how they measure up against us."
Justin Schultz added that the veterans on the team have made it easy to get integrated.
"These guys make it real easy. I know a couple of guys, Hammie (Curtis Hamilton) I know him from Kelowna. We're pretty good buddies and we all get along really well."
After finishing last season on Oklahoma City, Magnus Paajarvi is ready to make some strides.
"It was fun last year. We made a run. We wanted to get to the final but it was tough. We lost a lot of odd-goal games (to Toronto)," Paajarvi began. "We had a great group of guys. We had a lot of fun. We got a lot more noticed in this town with the playoffs and I think we're seeing that now with a little bit more fans."
Having not had a game since May, Paajarvi was glad to be on the ice as the calendar flips to October.
"It's been awhile since we played and we haven't really known what to do. A lot of players don't know what to do right now, either. It's nice to have a job and play. We've got a great team here. It's going to be fun."
Magnus also talked about acting as a tour guide for his teammates.
"Downtown OKC isn't that big but I'll show them some restaurants and a little bit of golf, I guess. We've already done that."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com