Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
Rookie Justin Schultz is leading the charge for the Oklahoma City Barons, as he is first on the team and first in the American Hockey League in assists and points this season.
The 22-year-old has 10 goals and 18 assists for a league-leading 28 points in just 18 games this season. While he leads the league in points and assists, Schultz is tied for fourth in the league in goals.
Just barely behind him, with 26 points in 18 games, is fellow Barons foward Jordan Eberle. Eberle’s 11 goals put him at third in the league, while his fifteen assists are second just behind Schultz.
Also in the top five league-wide is Ryan Nugent Hopkins, who has scored eight goals and 12 assists in 17 games. All three of the young forwards average over a point-per-game, while combining for just 14 penalty minutes and an average age of 21 among the trio.
While Schultz has no NHL experience and is in his first year of professional hockey after three seasons with the University of Wisconsin, both Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins bring some big-league experience to the American Hockey League squad.
After spending parts of four seasons with the WHL’s Regina Pats – who will retire his number later this season – and playing a total of 20 games with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons, Ebele joined the Edmonton Oilers in 2010 and has since played 147 NHL games.
He has 52 goals, 67 assists and 32 penalty minutes in his young career so far.
Finally, Nugent-Hopkins has one season of experience with the Oilers under his belt, having played 62 games there last season and tallying 52 points in that stretch. Prior to that, the Burnaby native played two full seasons with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels.
Behind Nugent-Hopkins in points for the Barons is another 22-year-old, Teemu Hartikainen. The left wing is in his third seasons with OKC, having scored 32 points in 51 games last season and racking up 119 penalty minutes. So far this season, he’s tallied six goals and 10 assists in 18 games.
Rounding out the ‘fab five’ is former top NHL draft choice Taylor Hall, who at 21 has two years of NHL experience under his belt along with three OHL seasons prior to that. He’s scored 95 points in 126 NHL games and has four goals and 11 assists in 10 games with the Barons so far this season.
The Barons are coming off a 7-2 win over the Charlotte Checkers and play consecutive away games against Houston on Thursday and Friday to close out the month.