Oilers’ Brad Malone Leaves AHL Legacy That Resonates in Edmonton

Brad Malone’s very first professional hockey game came in the Calder Cup Playoffs on April 16, 2011. Game 1 of the American Hockey League (AHL) North Division Semi-Finals. Lake Erie Monsters vs. Manitoba Moose. He had an assist and two penalty minutes.

Oilers’ Brad Malone Leaves AHL Legacy That Resonates in Edmonton

His very last professional hockey game came in the Calder Cup Playoffs on April 27, 2024. Game 2 of the AHL Pacific Division First Round. Bakersfield Condors vs. Ontario Reign. He had an assist and two penalty minutes.

In the 4,760 days between, he played hundreds of games while suiting up for seven different teams, ultimately becoming something of a legend with one.

Malone’s career came to a close last weekend when the Bakersfield Condors were eliminated from the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 loss to the Reign in Game 2 of their best-of-three series at Mechanics Bank Arena. The veteran forward, who turns 35 on May 20, had previously announced he would retire following the conclusion of the playoffs.

Malone has been a member of the Condors since 2017, becoming Bakersfield’s all-time AHL regular season leader with 316 games played. He is the longest-serving captain in team history, having worn the ‘C’ since 2020.

Malone was recalled by Edmonton a handful of times over the last several years, appearing in a total of 41 regular season games and two playoff contests with the Oilers. While he was never around for long in Edmonton, he spent enough time with the team for fans to understand why he’s so revered in Bakersfield.

Malone Bounces Around the NHL

Malone was drafted 105th overall in the 2007 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. He wouldn’t make his pro debut for nearly four years, after finishing his senior season at the University of North Dakota.

The product of Miramichi, N.B., was in the Avalanche organization for the next three seasons, suiting up for Colorado 54 times in the NHL regular season and playing 165 games with Lake Eerie of the AHL.

After becoming a free agent following the 2013-14 season, Malone signed a two-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. He spent the entirety of the next two seasons in the NHL, playing a total of 122 games with the Canes.

Malone agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the Washington Capitals in the summer of 2016, but he would never play a game with them. For the first few months of the season, he toiled away with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, before being dealt to the St. Louis Blues just prior to the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline. Malone never suited up for St. Louis, either: the Blues assigned him to the Chicago Wolves in the AHL where he spent the rest of the season.

At age 28 and coming off a season spent entirely in the minors, Malone went into the 2017 offseason at a crossroads. The path he chose wouldn’t lead him back to the NHL – other than the occasional sojourn – but it was one that would lead him to his hockey home.

Malone Finds a Home in Bakersfield

On July 3, 2017, Malone signed a two-year contract with the Oilers. On Sept. 28, the Oilers placed Malone on waivers to send him to Bakersfield.

Bakersfield was going into only its third season in the AHL; Malone was entering the final stretch of his career. The Condors needed experience; Malone had that to offer. He needed a purpose; the Condors had that to offer. It was the perfect match.

Over the next seven seasons, more than 160 players passed through Bakersfield. Some lasted only a game, some were there for a few years. But the only constant was Malone.

Malone was part of all the Condors’ milestones: first postseason appearance; first series win; and first division title. He became captain in February 2021, during the midst of the pandemic, and led the Condors to capture the John D. Chick Trophy.

Malone’s longest stint with the Oilers came during the 2018-19 season, from Jan. 31 to April 7. Other than that, he’s never been away from the Condors for even a few weeks.

This season, he was in Bakersfield from start to finish. Prior to the Condors’ last home game of the regular season, April 20 at Mechanics Bank Arena, Malone was honoured with a ceremony. Then he went out and scored the insurance goal in Bakersfield’s 5-3 victory over the Henderson Silver Knights. After the final horn, the more than 8,000 fans in attendance – one of Bakersfield’s largest home crowds in the years – gave the captain a curtain call.

Malone Makes His Mark in Edmonton

Edmonton fans learned what Malone was all about in 2022. He’d gone nearly three years without appearing in an NHL regular season game and was playing on an AHL contract with the Condors when the Oilers signed him to a one-year, two-way deal on Feb. 10.

His first game back with the Oilers, on March 1, was his 200th career NHL game. Just over a week later, on March 9, he scored his first NHL regular season goal since Dec. 1, 2015, and also recorded an assist in Edmonton’s 4-3 defeat of the Capitals at Rogers Place. Afterwards, during a post-game availability with the media, he shared some touching reflections of his journey.

“I think I understood who I was as a player and where I fit,” Malone said. “It’s just work ethic and detail and trying to enjoy myself, but in a professional way: you get to work with a lot of great people in Bakersfield and up here and if you rub shoulders with them, you get better and they elevate you as an individual.”

That goal would turn out to be Malone’s last in the NHL. His final NHL game on Dec. 13, 2022, was a 6-3 Oilers win over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Now as he walks off into the sunset, his former Oilers teammates are skating into the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Led by Leon Draisiatl and Connor McDavid, there is a ton of talent on today’s Edmonton team, but if they play with the heart of Malone, they’ll go further than sheer skill can take them.

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