2022 Edmonton Oilers Outlook
#12 James Hamblin
Before: Unranked, signed as UFA in March 2022
When the Edmonton Oilers first entered the National Hockey League, they still had their roots in the World Hockey Association. The Rebel League had made its name by finding players in untapped or untapped markets such as college hockey, Europe and, most controversially, underage junior stars. Its survivors continued to compete fiercely for talent from various sources.
In building the post-merger NHL dynasty, the Oilers drafted young Mark Messier from the WHA discard pile, Glenn Anderson from the U.S. collegiate ranks, Jari Kuri from Finland, and Jaroslav Pozar from behind the Iron Curtain. Charlie Huddy was brought in as a free agent after going through the draft, and former Canadian college star and Olympic captain Randy Gregg was brought in from Japan out of goodwill.
Each cost a round-round draft pick or less.
It’s been a while since the Oilers consistently won prize money in the fourth round of the draft, as Anderson, Kuri, Pozar and Esa Tikkanen did from 1979-83. Or beyond the first round, for real.Beyond Emerging High Second Rounders Ryan McLeodEdmonton’s second day of drought was marked by a mediocre draft, a missing signing window, premature deals, bad luck with injuries, and annual deficit of an actual draft pick.
But let’s give the organization a little credit for expanding the search and getting decent leads through other means.
As it happens, I’m writing my third article this week. hockey cult‘s 12th Annual Oilers Prospect Rankings. All were signed by three different sources in early 2022 as undrafted, unrestricted free agents. #16 Luke Phillip, center/winger passed through the Canadian university system. Goalkeeper #14 Ryan Fanti from the NCAA.
Today’s spotlight falls on our #12 pick. James HamblinHailing from Edmonton and a product of the South Side Athletic Club program, Hamblin is listed as center/left fielder. He played five full seasons in his WHL Medicine Hat with his Tigers, the last two of which he captained the team. Although he made it through the NHL Draft in three separate divisions, he continued to improve. His points per game were just 0.06 as a 16-year-old, then spiked to 0.68 and climbed steadily from there. He scored 0.94, 1.15 and 1.46 in the WHL during his 20-year-old season, but sadly that farewell campaign came to a sudden halt with the onset of COVID-19.
Hamblin first signed with the AHL in the spring of 2020 after a great overage season with the Tigers. Like many prospects, he spent the first half of his 2020-21 season abroad, posting excellent figures for Swedish third-tier hockey ettan before joining Bakersfield as a deep forward. .
Once again he showed strong signs of upward movement, scoring 0.39 points per game in his first AHL half season and scoring 0.55 and scoring 21 goals in an impressive campaign in 2021-22. He was also able to spot the scoresheet in his first NHL preseason game and generally made a strong impression at camp.
In the second half of the season, the Oilers raised the stakes, signature He signed an entry-level contract for another two years, this time in the NHL class.
what kind of player is he? Small, tenacious, versatile.
Tigers assistant coach Ryan Smith said, “Jimmy was the perfect player. He doesn’t do one thing particularly well, he does everything well. We rely on him to keep the offense going. and played on both sides of the special teams.Jimmy was usually one of the first players to arrive at the rink and one of the last to leave.He wants to get better every day. I did.”
Meanwhile, head coach Willy Desjardins raved about his players’ work ethic and two-way insight. At one point he was toying with the idea of converting him to defense before deciding his scoring was too important for the club. “He was able to do it because he was good defensively, he wasn’t just an attacking guy.”
During his time at Bakersfield, Hamblin consistently caught my eye, in a good way.I usually focused on players with NHL class contracts that he didn’t yet have. His agonizing hunger for the pack is hard to miss. In the Oilers’ second COVID-delayed Condor feature last January, I wrote:
- Forward James Hamblin Another low-profile prospect who signed a two-year minor league contract for 2020 after having a great overage season with the Medicine Hat Tigers. A seasoned attacking player, Hamblin is up to 5-5-10, +6 in 21 appearances. He showed up for the game on Friday and delivered the goods. The first assist was followed by a massive game tie tally in the final minute of two goals. On Sunday, the 22-year-old was unable to find a scoresheet, but at the net he had six shots to equalize and was prominent all game. [Raphael] Team leader Lavoie. I don’t know how high his ceiling is, but so far his established floor is already a ‘good pro’.
Listed at 5 feet 9 inches and 176 pounds, Hamblin is destined to be one of the smallest players on ice of all time. In that respect, he fits the mold of many players who have been missed in the draft despite having a decent talent level.
Consider the point leader in Undrafted NHL forwards (well-mannered quant hockey). Five of the top 10 scoring active forwards in this category have made it through the junior hockey route. ), Antoine Roussel (5’11, 198) and the current Euler Derek Ryan (5’10, 185).
Of course, every time such an underdog hits the jackpot, there are 10 to 100 players like Cameron Hevick (5’10, 183) who signed with the Oilers as an undrafted free agent a few years ago and is doing great. I had an overage season. Joined WHL but AHL/ECHL where he found his level in the pro as a tweener.
But those last words may have described Yani Gould at some point. Perhaps the most interesting success story is Gourde’s minor league contract before being signed off of the scrap pile from his writing in Tampa Bay at the age of 22. He split his two seasons between the ECHL and AHL. That’s what I did. The rest, as they say, is history.
I’m not saying James Hamblin is “that guy,” but they do have common aspects, like spending two years as a minor pro before seeing the NHL class pact.
I don’t claim to be the first person to make this connection. That honor goes to his blogging friend, Bruce Carlock. great work in Hamblin copper and blue A while back, that comparison got right in the headline! Curlock’s entire post, including top-notch video analysis, is recommended for anyone wanting to dig deeper into this prospect. For today’s purposes, I’ll quote just one paragraph.
- Another NHL-level attribute he possesses is hockey flair. He was consistently scouted since his junior days as a player who thinks about the game at a very high level. Sure, he passed it on to the AHL. Over the past year, Jay Woodcroft has played a significant part as coach, Hamblin played LW on the check line, C on the scoring line, was one of six forwards in the penalty-kill rotation, and mostly played power plays in the second group. Additionally, he was used to defend high leverage situations such as empty net situations and was used as one of his first players in 3 vs 3 OT. If you need the definition of a Swiss Army Knife hockey player, it’s James Hamblin.
Its utility in all situations, coupled with plus skating and high level of competition, makes me think he has the outside shot in his big league career.
Of course the player himself recognize Where are the challenges and opportunities? “It’s not going to play a role in the top six and we have to understand that. So the scoring is great and I love it. I want to score as many as possible, but there are other aspects that we have to improve. There is this for me [contract] It’s like a key that gives you a doorway to finally join the league. So now it’s just a matter of getting the job done and working on the little things that will help you get your place on the team. “
Forecast for 2022-23: Please do your best as a core member of Condors, whether it’s a small thing or a big thing. With the team under load on the wing, Hamblin is more likely to settle into the central position it was meant to be. It’s not impossible for him to have NHL coffee at some point.
Cult of Hockey Prospect Series
Our voter panel has hockey cultof I’m writing a trio of David Staples, Bruce McCurdy and Kurt Leavins. edmonton journal Jim Matheson, a colleague and longtime Oilers scribe;
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