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The Oilers Take Flight in ECHL

Thursday the Edmonton Oilers announces a new ECHL affiliation with the Bakersfield Condors, just 2 months after their previous team, the Stockton Thunder fell in the Kelly Cup Finals to the Reading Royals. The Thunder were the Oilers' ECHL affiliate for 7 seasons, and while they didn't win the Kelly Cup, the Thunder were still the Western champs, and so another strong, winning team to further develop Edmonton prospects. 

There has been no public reason why the Oilers decided to part ways with the Thunder. While the Oilers had shared the Thunder with the San Jose Sharks since 2010-11, in 2012, the Thunder were exclusive with the Oilers. So player development conflicts with another NHL team was likely not the reason for the switch.

It likely wasn't attendance numbers in Stockton either, as the Thunder are among the league's top attendance draws.

Although Stockton is one of the filming locations for FX's television show Sons of Anarchy, it isn't likely that because of the show or any other party reasons from Stockton that the Oilers looked to make the move.

No, this one would appear to be a conflict between ideals, or management in general. Or perhaps, Oilers' GM Craig MacTavish is really looking to shake things up, including his player development. 

Bakersfield California is farther from the ocean, and in California's oil city, or oil country if you prefer. This may be a marketing dream for the Condors, but I'm not sure how exactly they would adapt the team's mascot, who for the record terrifies me. And it's not just that he's a condor, I am afraid of most birds. I swear it's a normal and logical condition. 


The Condors are no stranger to the NHL having previously been affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks who later switched ECHL teams when an opportunity closer to home came up. Edmonton may have found better transportation options from Bakersfield, or Los Angeles which is just over 100 miles away, to Oklahoma City and ultimately Edmonton. 

Bakersfield had a less than idyllic past season, finishing with just 50 points, good enough for last place in the ECHL. But the addition of Oilers prospects may help to turn this around. Prospects such as Travis Ewanyk and Tyler Bunz will likely begin their seasons with the Condors, and as both of these examples were so close to championship titles last season, you can bet that the Condors will not be content with another 50 point season.

The ECHL doesn't garner much attention to many hockey fans, as it is traditionally felt that players from the ECHL just won't make it to the NHL. With the Oilers however, and their plethora of prospects, the possibility of moving through the leagues is real; goaltender Devan Dubnyk is a prime example having played a season in Stockton. 

Player signings and roster announcements will be made throughout the remainder of the summer. The Edmonton Oilers will not be committed to send as many players to the Condors as they are the Barons, but the ties are there, and the bonds will grow.

Filed in: | Oil Patch | Permalink
  Tags: bakersfield+condors


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About Oil Patch

Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.

Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.

Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.

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