The Oklahoma City Barons are going to look a lot like the Edmonton Oilers this season.
With a lockout looming, Edmonton sent 26 players to the AHL’s Barons, including marquee forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.
Magnus Paajarvi and defenceman Justin Schultz are also bound for Oklahoma City, while first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov was assigned to the OHL’s Sarnia Sting and blue-liner David Musil sent to the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.
Yakupov isn’t likely to suit up with his former junior hockey team. The dynamic young forward tweeted Saturday he is on his way to Russia where it’s expected he’ll join a KHL team.
With the Oilers being a young team many of their impact players are still on entry-level contracts, making it cheap to move a large part of the team to the AHL.
“I talked to Ryan Whitney who played in the AHL during the lockout and he said it was one of the best years of his career,” said Eberle on the Oilers’ Twitter account.
“It’s going to be good to go down there with the guys, hang out and get a winning attitude because we’re going to have a good team.”
Ottawa’s Jason Spezza, Carolina’s Erik Staal and Los Angeles’s Dustin Brown were among the players who played in the AHL during the 2004-05 lockout.
A move to a lower-level league means a pay cut for most players. Eberle, who is in the final year of his entry-level deal but just signed a US$36-million, six-year contract extension, will make an annual salary of $65,000 in the AHL.
Edmonton star forward Taylor Hall was not eligible to be sent to the Barons because he remains on injured reserve.
Teams were scrambling to sign players and move around pieces prior to the end of the current collective bargaining agreement at midnight ET.
The Hurricanes, another young team, topped the Oilers by sending 28 players to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. Included in that list is left-winger Jeff Skinner, who won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2011.
Carolina also sent defenceman Ryan Murphy, who was drafted 12th overall in 2011, to the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers.
Elsewhere, New Jersey Devils defenceman Adam Henrique, who was nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie last season, will play for the AHL’s Albany Devils next season.
Winnipeg sent 13 players to the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps including centre Alexander Burmistrov, while prospect Mark Scheifele was returned to the OHL’s Barrie Colts.