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FUTURE WATCH | Condors prepare to fly to new heights this AHL season

by Meg Tilley / Edmonton Oilers

It’s a season of new for the Edmonton Oilers AHL affiliate team this year. With the creation of the AHL’s Pacific Division, the Oklahoma City Barons were relocated to Bakersfield, CA, in January. Grabbing third place at the end of the 2014-15 season, the Barons finished the year with a 41-27-5 record. Now known as the Bakersfield Condors, the city, which has been home to the Condors WCHL and ECHL team since 1998 (who have now been relocated to Norfolk, VA) will see the team play for the first time ever in the AHL.

Starting a new season, as a new team, in a new city with new fans, the Bakersfield Condors have jumped into the AHL with both feet, kicking off the season with a 1-0 win against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday. The league may be familiar territory to many of the Condors players, but according to Head Coach Gerry Fleming, there’s still a learning process involved no matter a player’s experience.

“The expectations are really high (this season). I think we have a solid group of young prospects sprinkled in with some veteran guys that know what we’re trying to accomplish here and that have been a part of the organization for two to three years now,” said Fleming.

“With a young team there’s going to be a learning curve there. It’s not easy to jump-in from either college or junior thinking you’re going to be a dominant player at this level right away. There’s a process and you have to focus on the process daily. It starts with good practice habits, good habits being a pro, coming to the rink prepared, work every day and to understand the dynamics of being an everyday player at the pro level.”

For this week’s Future Watch, Fleming gives us some insight on what we can expect to see from some of the Condors prospective players.

1. Darnell Nurse

Selected seventh overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, Nurse played three seasons with Sault Ste. Marie, playing in 64 regular season games in his third OHL season, scoring 13 goals with 37 assists and finishing +1 with 91 penalty minutes, before his professional debut with the Barons in 2014. He was -2 with no points or penalties in two regular season games and had 1 assist with 7 penalty minutes in the three-game playoff series.

“Darnell is a good player. He’s a big body, he skates well, he sees the ice well — he’s a competitor,” said Fleming.

“There are so many good things that are a positive side to his game but in the same breath he’s got to learn to be a little more patient, to pick and choose his spots. He’s an aggressive player, which we really like, but we have to channel that aggression in a good way, into a good form where it’s going to be to his advantage.”

2. Leon Draisaitl

Draisaitl is a versatile forward, who some have said has keen offensive instincts, and will be playing his first season in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors this season. Prior to being drafted third overall by the Oilers in the 2014 NHL Draft, Draisaitl tied with Kootenay’s Sam Reinhart for fourth in WHL scoring in his second season with the Prince Albert Raiders, with 105 points, scoring 38 goals with 67 assists and was +7 with 24 penalty minutes in 64 regular season games.

“With the puck, Leon does some good things. He sees the ice really well, he’s able to make plays in small-sized areas, he takes the puck to the net, he protects the puck well — he does so many good things with the puck,” said Fleming.

“The things in his game that he needs to work on is just his awareness on the ice without the puck, his faceoffs, his competitive level, his practice habits — all those things that all young players need to work on now, whether you’re drafted in the first round or in the seventh round.”

3. Laurent Brossoit

Acquired by Edmonton in November 2013, goaltender Brossoit made his NHL debut on April 9 against the San Jose Sharks. The 22-year-old was 22-21-4 with a 2.65 goals-against average and .916 save percentage with the OKC Barons last season. Stepping in for Richard Bachman, Brossoit made the second most AHL appearances for a netminder in 2014-15 with 53 games played.

“Brossoit played a lot of games for us last year, it was a great experience for him to get the net when Bachman went up and to run with that, and he did a good job,” said Fleming.

“This year, I think with the goaltenders that we have in the organization, with the depth that we have in that position, Brossoit’s going to have a good support staff where he’ll be able to just go in there and be able to focus on the things that he needs to focus on — tracking the puck, making himself big in the nets, no wasted movements. You know I think he learned a lot from Bachman this year and hopefully he can just continue on that path of getting better every day.”

4. Joey Laleggia

Drafted in the fifth round, 123rd overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Oilers, Laleggia is playing in his first full AHL season with the Condors. Playing for the University of Denver, he was ranked third among all NCAA defencemen in scoring in 2014-15, with 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) in 37 games, tying for most goals scored by a blueliner.

“Joey is a tremendous skater. He has great acceleration to create separation between defenders and himself. The biggest thing (to work on) with Joey is keeping the game going North and South, moving the puck quickly and not so much lateral play, picking and choosing his spots, when to join the rush, when to activate him in the offensive line, but there’s a lot of good things to his game and we’re just going to work with the things that he has to make those things better.”

5. Braden Christoffer

As Edmonton Oilers Head Writer Chris Wescott wrote in Underdog Christoffer achieves childhood dream, Christoffer “came a long way in his three-year career with the (Western Hockey League’s) Regina Pats, working his way up the depth chart, improving in each season and finishing it as their captain.” He recorded 59 points (26 goals, 33 assists) for the Pats, and added 147 penalty minutes in 72 games. He was among a group of firsts to sign an AHL deal with the Bakersfield Condors this off-season, and in October, the 21-year-old signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Oilers after attending training camp on an amateur tryout.

“He came into camp with the right attitude. He came into camp with the mind-set that I’m going to get a contract,” said Fleming.

“He went out every day and got noticed by doing positive things, by working hard and by doing little things well. It’s tough to come to camp on a minor-league contract and get signed to an NHL contract, so based on his play — right from rookie tournament through training camp — he did something positive every day to warrant a contract, and that’s half the battle. He’s done that and now he needs to build and grow upon that and be a dominant AHL player, and we’re going to help him get to where he needs to be.”

Statistics For In The System Through Past Seasons: 14-15 | 13-14 | 12-13 | 11-12
Stats Updated as of Wednesday, October 14 2015

Bakersfield (AHL) - Forwards


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
BRADEN CHRISTOFFER LW 21 2 0 0 0 0 0
LEON DRAISAITL C 20 2 0 0 0 -1 2
MATTHEW FORD*   RW 31 2 0 0 0 -1 0
RYAN HAMILTON   LW 30 1 0 0 0 0 0
KALE KESSY   LW 22 - - - - - -
JUJHAR KHAIRA   LW 21 2 0 0 0 -1 0
ANDREW MILLER   RW/C 27 2 1 0 1 -1 2
MITCH MOROZ   LW 21 2 0 0 0 -1 10
PHILIP MCCRAE* C 23 2 0 0 0 -1 2
IIRO PAKARINEN   RW 24 2 0 1 1 -1 2
TYLER PITLICK   RW 23 2 0 0 0 0 0
KYLE PLATZER RW 20 2 0 0 0 0 0
JOSH WINQUIST   LW 22 1 0 0 0 -1 0
BOGDAN YAKIMOV   C/W 21 2 0 0 0 -1 2
DANIIL ZHARKOV (INJURED)
LW 21 - - - - - -
Bakersfield (AHL) - Defencemen


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
MARTIN GERNAT   d 23 - - - - - -
brad hunt   D 27 2 0 0 0 -1 2
JOEY LALEGGIA   D 23 2 0 0 0 -1 0
DAVID MUSIL D 22 2 0 0 0 -1 0
NIKITA NIKITIN   D 29 - - - - - -
DARNELL NURSE   D 20 2 0 0 0 0 5
JORDAN OESTERLE   d 23 2 0 0 0 0 2
NICK PAGEAU   D 27 2 0 0 0 -3 0
DILLON SIMPSON (INJURED) D 22 - - - - - -
Norfolk (ECHL)


Name POS age    GP G A P +/- PIM
BEN BETKER D 21 - - - - - -
GREG CHASE F 20 - - - - - -
Canadian Hockey League
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
CALEB JONES  D 18 6 1 2 3 0 9 PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS (WHL)
ETHAN BEAR  D 18 5 0 4 4   +1 4 SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS (WHL)
NCAA & USHL
Name POS age  GP G A P +/- PIM team
EVAN CAMPBELL   LW 21 1 1 1 2 0 2 UMASS-LOWELL (NCAA)
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 19 2 0 1 1 +2 0 UMASS-AMHERST (NCAA)
JOHN MARINO d 18 3 1 4 5 +5 4 TRI-CITY (USHL)
AIDAN MUIR LW 20 - - - - - - WESTERN MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TYLER VESEL   C 21 - - - - - - NEBRASKA-OMAHA (NCAA)
Europe
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
ROMAN HORAK C 24 20 5 3 8 -3 10 CHEKHOV VITYAZ (KHL)
PHILIP LARSEN   D 25 13 1 5 6 +5 4 JOKERIT HELSINKI (FINLAND)
ZIYAT PAIGIN  F 20 8 0 1 1 +2 2 KAZAN AK-BARS (KHL)
ANTTI TYRVAINEN  F 26 11 5 1 6 +1 24 ILVES TAMPERE (finland)
2016 World Junior Hockey Championships
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
CHECK BACK DURING THE TOURNAMENT                 
Goaltenders
Name age GP w l T GAA SV% team
KEVEN BOUCHARD   19 4 1 3 0 4.05 .866 baie-comeau (qmjHL)
LAURENT BROSSOIT 22 2 1 1 0 2.50 .930 bakersfield (AHL)
EETU LAURIKAINEN 22 - - - -   --- --- BAKERSFIELD (aHL)
ZACH NAGELVOORT   21 - - - -   --- --- michigan (ncaa)
BEN SCRIVENS   29 - - - -   --- --- bakersfield (ahl)
MIROSLAV SVOBODA   20 1 0 1 0 6.00 .750 TRINEC OCELARI (CZECH)
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