THE TEAM TODAY: Marty makes it
Oklahoma City Barons take the ice for a full team practice for the first time; Cornet, Rajala and Zahn all assigned to Stockton (ECHL) this morning
MARTY MAKES ITOKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Barons took the ice as a full team for the first time on Monday morning. Absent from the skate were forwards Philippe Cornet, Toni Rajala and Antti Tyrvainen plus defenceman Teigan Zahn.
Shortly after practice began, it was announced that Cornet, Rajala and Zahn had been assigned to the ECHL's Stockton Thunder. Antti Tyrvainen is nursing an injury and is not expected to play this weekend.
"There was some tough decisions that had to be made," said Barons head coach Todd Nelson. "I think moving forward we're going to keep the guys we have right now. We have five lines and seven defence and we'll see how that plays out."
The toughest decision was likely moving Cornet down to the ECHL's Stockton Thunder. Cornet was an AHL All-Star last year with 24 goals and even got into a couple of NHL games with the Oilers.
"It's unfortunate for Phil. He's been with us the last couple of years but there's some young guys that outperformed him," Nelson continued. "One name that comes to mind is Kristians Pelss. He played two very strong games."
Nelson said the glut of high-calibre players on the team meant that someone had to go and the organization felt Cornet would be better served getting top-six minutes in Stockton.
"This is something that we talked about at the start of camp. It's going to be a pretty competitive camp. We have a lot of quality hockey players here," Nelson stated. "We talked to (Cornet) and challenged him to be the best player in Stockton and the best player in the league (ECHL).
"I don't know how long he's going to be there. He could be back with us within two weeks or whatever it is. It's one of those things, really competitive with the lockout going on and guys are fighting for jobs every night."
Former Edmonton Oil King Kristians Pelss was thrilled to hear he had made the team.
"I feel great. I feel lucky I'm staying here," he said. "I've enjoyed my time here and glad they're giving me a chance."
Coach Nelson was impressed with the play of Pelss as over two pre-season games he had a goal.
"He was on the bubble. We had to see what training camp dictated and he earned the right to be here. Same thing goes for a guy like Ryan Martindale. He had a strong training camp and you have to take care of those guys when they do well."
Martindale put up two goals and an assist with a +2 rating as he really showed that he can be a force to be reckoned with at the AHL level. The 6'4" Martindale played the majority of last season in Stockton, netting six goals and 15 points in 34 games. He had two assists in 16 games with the Barons.
"It's really good. There's a good group of guys here this year," said Martindale. "Everyone has a good mindset going forward and they're trying to accomplish a lot so to be chosen to be a part of that, I'm very happy for it and I'm blessed with the opportunity."
The Barons had Martindale skating on what looked to be the team's second line.
"Right now I have him with Josh Green and Tyler Pitlick. We feel that's a pretty strong line. A pretty offensive line that will be one of the power play units. He's going to get an excellent opportunity," said Coach Nelson.
LINE COMBOS MOVING FORWARD
When Todd Nelson sat down to make up his lines prior to practice on Monday, he must have felt like a kid on Christmas morning with so many offensive options.
"It's a good thing because we have so many options and quality hockey players here. It's a nice problem to have."
Nelson had Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins skating with Magnus Paajarvi on the top line, the aforementioned Martindale, Green and Pitlick plus Hartikainen with Lander and Arcobello.
The other two lines were Dane Byers with Chris VandeVelde and Curtis Hamilton and Tanner House with Cameron Abney and Pelss.
"We have a lot of players here. I just talked to the guys and said we have to find ice time for everybody and keep everybody fresh. That's going to be the biggest challenge."
ALL CLEAR FOR MARINCIN
The seven defencemen rotated for most of practice and all seven look healthy and ready to go for this weekend in Cleveland.
"He's cleared," Nelson said of Marincin. "He's ready to go so we'll see how he feels come Thursday. If he's ready to go, he's going to be playing Friday night in Cleveland."
The other six defenders who made the team are Justin Schultz, Taylor Fedun, Alex Plante, Colten Teubert, Brandon Davidson and Dan Ringwald.
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com