Oilers, Stockton Agreement Mutually Beneficial

By Scott Linesburgh
Staff Writer
The Stockton Record

STOCKTON, Calif. — Scott Howson and Chris Cichocki didn’t believe it would take long for the Edmonton Oilers and the Stockton Thunder to come to an agreement.

And they were right.

Cichocki, the Thunder’s head coach, said one 30-minute phone call is all it took for Stockton to sign on for a second season as the Oilers’ minor-league affiliate. The agreement, which will be officially announced today, is for one year, and terms were not disclosed.

Howson, Edmonton’s assistant general manager who supervises the minor leagues, said the NHL franchise did not talk to an ECHL team other than the Thunder.

“We were really pleased with how it went last season,” Howson said. “From the coaching, to the environment in the arena to the city itself, it was a great situation for our players. We’re glad to still be associated with Stockton.”

Since the Thunder was thrilled to get the Edmonton players, it made a new deal pretty easy to negotiate.

“I called Scott once to set up a discussion, then we spoke for about a half an hour,” Cichocki said. “They were very happy with the playing time their players got here, and we’re happy to have the deal done so early.”

Eight Oilers prospects spent time with the Thunder, including goalie Devan Dubnyk and defenseman Bryan Young, who played with the Oilers late in the season. Stockton was the Oilers’ only affiliate last season, but Edmonton has acquired an American Hockey League club, the Springfield (Mass.) Falcons.

Howson said he expects to send between three to five players to Stockton. The Oilers begin their training camp in the first week of September, and will decide which players to send to Springfield before assigning prospects to the Thunder.

“One of the things I like about Edmonton is you get the sense that things are in the player’s hands,” Cichocki said. “Players get to go to camp and prove what level they are capable of playing at.”

The Thunder begins the 2007-08 season on Oct. 19 in Bakersfield.