Following quickly on the heels of the OKC Barons loss to Toronto in their AHL Western Conference Finals, the team returned to OKC, packed their bags, and scattering to the four winds. It was with great sadness that fans watched some of their favorites depart OKC perhaps for the last time. We had spent an entire hockey season watching this team, along with some additions and trades along the way. We realize that teams break up, move up, move down, and move elsewhere, but it is still difficult to face the notion that some might have played for the Barons for the last time in an away game. We grow attached. We have favorites. It happens.

As we wait for the July 1st signings to begin, I wish the best for all of the players who spent time in OKC this past season. In the ideal world I would love to see all of them return – but unselfishly, I also realize that some players would be better served elsewhere, whether it is in North America, playing for the NHL, the AHL or in Europe. My only hope is that they land on teams who can fully appreciate their talents and treat them well. And we will follow their careers, wherever it may lead them.

Thus far this summer, it looks like Coach Todd Nelson has been re-signed however nothing official has been announced – this is not too surprising given the history of announcements made both by the Oilers and the Barons. “Right now my focus is going to OKC and building on what we did the last 2 years. We’re in a position to win the Calder Cup.” – Todd Nelson in “Nelson comfortable in OKC, but wants NHL head coaching gig” by Ryan Dittrick, June 28, 2012.

I agree wholeheartedly with Neal Livingston who wrote earlier today on twitter “It may not be a big deal to most, but not giving an “official” announcement on a Nelson contract is disrespectful to fans in OKC.” It also makes fans and media disrespect the Oilers and Barons (Prodigal) when we learn most of their news through secondhand sources or the people directly involved via social media. We can only hope this next season will improve in this regard.

OKC Barons Team News and Movement:

Kevin Montgomery

Kevin Montgomery will be heading to Europe to play according to Lillehammer I.K. who announced on June 27th that Montgomery has been signed. Kevin joined the Barons mid-season of 2010-11 after spending the first part of that season with the Lake Erie Monsters and he spent all of last season with the Barons. Montgomery will be missed. Good luck in Lillehammer!

Ryan Keller’s signing is now confirmed: He signed with Genève-Servette of the NLA in Switzerland. also tweeted some rather tantalizing comments (possibly jokes?) about going to Europe and the necessity of learning French in Geneva. Does all this allude to the possibility of his playing in Europe (i.e. Switzerland) this coming season? If the assumptions are true, I wish him all the best, and he will be missed here in OKC! The Swiss league is very lucky to have gained Ryan Keller to their ranks!!

On June 19th he tweeted:

On June 29th he tweeted:

The Oilers gave qualifying offers to the following Restricted Free Agents (RFA) who spent time with the Barons this past season: Alex Plante, Chris VandeVelde and Linus Omark.

Not qualified were Hunter Tremblay, Taylor Chorney and Milan Kytnar. Chorney and Kytnar were not huge surprises, considering Chorney was picked up by the St. Louis Blues on waivers earlier last season and then returned to the Oilers [and has now been signed to a 1-yr 2-way contract with the Blues again for next season]. Kytnar, rather than returning to Stockton during the season, chose to return to play in Europe. The big surprise here is Tremblay and if he is not re-signed to the Barons under an AHL contract, his skills and goals will be sadly missed here in OKC, just as they were while he was injured during the later part of the season. [July 1: Chorney signed 1-year 2-way contract with St. Louis Blues; July 5: Tremblay signed with the St. John’s IceCaps – Source: IceCaps agree to terms with four skaters on AHL Contracts.]

Oilers – Barons Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA): Yann Danis, Ryan Keller, Josh Green and Bryan Rodney. [Yann Danis signed 1-year 2-way contract with Oilers. ]

OKC Barons AHL contract players: Andrew Lord, Triston Grant, Dylan Yeo, Dan Ringwald, Bryan Helmer, Ryan Lowery, Kevin Montgomery, Kirill Tulupov and David LeNeveu.  [Andrew Lord signed with SC Reissersee – 2 Bundesliga (Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany); Triston Grant signed with the Grand Rapids Griffins (1-yr); and Kevin Montgomery signed with Lillehammer I.K. – 1-yr contract.]

For now, we wait and see how the summer trades change the team. Some will move up to the Oilers, some will re-sign, while others depart and additional players will be added creating an entirely new look to the team come October.

As news develops over the summer I will continue to add updates regarding the Barons players. Stayed tuned.

Continued with additional updates: OKC Barons – Going Forward Part II