The Oilers capped off a busy couple of days on Tuesday, adding undrafted WHL’er Mitch Holmberg to the organization. With the hiring of Bob Green (above) as the team’s director of amateur free agent scouting last summer, Edmonton had signaled that it wanted to be in the mix for the best undrafted players every year and they’ve certainly done that this season.
Holmberg joins a group of players announced yesterday.
Free agent college defenceman Jordan Oesterle was signed to a two-season entry-level contract and assigned to Oklahoma City. Lowetide did a nice job collecting the various scouting reports on the young defenceman, who joins an organization with a logjam on the blue line but might be a nice ‘diamond in the rough’ find.
Oesterle wasn’t the only one.
So Khaira, Chase and Winquist are out there, wouldnt be surprised if there is one more significant player added to OKC out of the WHL
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) April 1, 2014
Joshua Winquist, who scored 47 goals this season in Everett, signed an amateur tryout agreement, giving both the organization and the player a chance at a test run in professional hockey. It’ll be interesting to see if he shows well enough to find a home in the AHL next year. Also signing on was Graeme Craig, a big WHL defenceman with adequate puck-moving ability, and he’s under contract for next season as well.
Also making the jump to the AHL was Jujhar Khaira, the big centre who is one of the Oilers’ best forward prospects. The Calgary Hitmen’s Greg Chase, who has had a fantastic year (especially for a seventh-round pick) is also headed for OKC.
Holmberg might be the most interesting undrafted player picked up in the last couple of days.
This is particularly so if the rumours that I’ve heard are true. For now, official word is he’s been signed to an amateur tryout offer, but speculation has it that the Barons also have him signed to an AHL contract for next season. If so that would be a coup because players with Holmberg’s numbers (62 goals, 118 points for Spokane) generally get an entry-level NHL deal, drafted or not. If he’s been tied to the organization without taking up a spot on the team’s 50-man list the Oilers’ have done very nicely here. When Tampa Bay did something similar with Tyler Johnson (for a lark, look at where he sits on the NHL’s rookie scoring board) they had to offer a full NHL deal.
Holmberg hits a lot of the same points that Johnson did – a small late-bloomer with wicked numbers in his last junior campaign. Some will instantly go into ‘the Oilers don’t need another smurf’ mode, but there’s literally no downside here – and as Johnson illustrates, every so often these guys turn out to be significant players.
Certainly Holmberg’s scoring makes a case for him. His 118 points were 37 ahead of his next-closest teammate (Mike Aviani) and the third-highest scoring forward (Adam Helewka) was way back at the 50-point mark. He managed to lead the entire league in scoring with very little help offensively form this teammates; that isn’t at all easy to do and he’s going to be a guy to watch closely in Oklahoma.
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