by PuckStopsHere on 12/12/11 at 02:43 PM ET
Just like the NHL there is parity in the AHL. It is has been hard to assess which team is the best in the league. I think one team is showing it is the best of the bunch. They are the Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oiler affiliate). They have a record of 19 wins and 7 losses (1 in a shootout) for 39 points. They also have a +23 goal differential. This gives them only a one point lead in the standings over the Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild affiliate), but the Barons have been a stronger team as shown by their better goal differential and lesser reliance on regulation tie points.
The Edmonton Oilers are a young improving team in the NHL. This level of success at the AHL shows that they have a deep group of potential NHLers. The Oklahoma City team is not dependent upon one or two star players. It has a deep group of offensive players. These include Ryan Keller, Philippe Cornet, Gilbert Brule, Mark Arcobello, Teemu Hartikainen, Josh Green and defenceman Alex Plante. Most of these players are likely to be given NHL shots in the future and several already have NHL experience.
David LeNeveu and Yann Danis have provided some strong goaltending for the Barons. The team has the lowest goals against in the AHL. Edmonton has had strong goaltending from Nikolai Khabibulin so far this year, but his history shows he is an injury risk. Should he fall, they have strong AHL goaltending ready to fill his slot.
The Oklahoma City Barons are the first place team in the AHL. They appear to be the best team in the league. This bodes well for their parent Edmonton Oilers. They have strong goaltending at the AHL level and several solid offensive players. This group of players will make an impact for the Oilers in the future.
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