PENTICTON, B.C. -- There aren't many people who are hoping that Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi get cut.
Just a few thousand or so, all of them ticket holders in Oklahoma City.
As much as fans in the Oilers new minor-league city would love a look at the first rounders (Taylor Hall is too young for the AHL and will have to return to junior if he doesn't make the Oilers), head coach Todd Nelson isn't hoping it happens.
"If Edmonton wants to send us Eberle and those guys, that's fine," he chuckled. "But those guys have a great chance of making the club."
No matter what happens, though, he thinks the Barons will be better for it either way.
"The way that I look at it, whoever does make the (Oilers) there are going to be a lot of good players who get pushed down. The more depth we have, the stronger it's going to make us down in the minors.
And after several seasons of learning how to lose in Springfield, the Oilers seem determined to change the AHL fortunes, too. They made a major effort this summer to deepen its ranks and bolster the Barons, signing the likes of Greg Stewart, Shawn Belle, Ben Ondrus, Brad Moran, Alex Giroux and Richard Petiot.
"I think the emphasis is on development and a
lot of people agree that winning is a part of development," said Nelson. "You want players to feel good about themselves so if they get called up to play in the NHL they can bring that winning attitude with them. That's very important. We think we'll have some good veteran presence there with some character," said Nelson. "And it's going to help us a lot."