Edmonton Oilers add Mitch Holmberg

Green, Bob

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.

The List

Jujhar Khaira

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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.

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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.

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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.


    • ubermiguel

      If it doesn’t take up an NHL contract why not? That’s exactly what you need to do when you have the vertical integration of ECHL/AHL/NHL franchises.

      • CaptainLander

        No argument here. As long as we’re not in some kind of cap situation where we are unable to get free agents or resign all the young up and coming talent, I say spend Katz’s money till the cups come home. However, a few times this year I have noticed that so many players make it hard to manage it all, and occasionally guys have gotten lost in the shuffle.

        I guess I just wonder if he shouldn’t try and be a little bit more focused in his targets.

        • CaptainLander

          The Oilers are not spending Katz’s money.

          The money is from ticket sales, concessions, merchandise, TV contracts, subsidies from governments, etc

          I doubt that as long as the seats fill up, advertising dollars keep rolling in to TV stations, etc that Katz will spend any of his own money.

  • Toro

    Oesterle I’ve heard nothing good about this guy from anyone except he has good foot speed supposed to be pretty bad defensively I think we have enough of those kinda players already, does he count towards the 50 man list ?

  • Czar

    At this time of the season there are usually lots of amateur tryouts and CHL prospects getting a brief stint with the farm team. Given the injury situation in OKC, some of these prospects/tryouts might actually get into some games. I have hope for Khaira and Chase especially and I am all for adding depth to the organization as long as it doesn’t handcuff us on our 50-contract list. If we move out players on the big club, we will need more depth to be able to plug the holes that we create.

  • Spydyr

    Great moves. The Oilers are on the verge of getting rid of a bunch of place holders (Eager, Grebeshkov etc.) who count against our reserve list of 50 players. Nice to see the organization going outside the box a bit to try to develop potential depth. Most noticeable in all this is that these players have skill. It will only take having one or two of them make it to justify the effort put forth in recruiting them.

  • Spydyr

    Signing like this is why the Oilers picked up the Bakersfield Condors.Their contracts do not count towards the 50 NHL contract maximum.One of the few good moves made the last few years.

  • Doctor Smashy

    Hey JW. How much stock do you put in the difference in playoff performance between players like Reinhart and Draisaitl? Seems like a pretty dramatic difference even given the teams surrounding them. Does that play a major role in the decision on draft day?

    • a lg dubl dubl

      I think it should be a big concern. Just because Draisaitl is heavier, that should not be the reason why the Oil draft him over the others. Personally I think that Bennett would be the better pick, because he is just over six feet and he is still only 17 years old, and so he will more than likely end up at atleast 6’1″ and the others are almost a year older. But most importantly, the reason to take Bennett is because his compete level is off the charts. He plays a gritty tough game. Both Reinhart and Draisaitl play a very soft game. The Oilers need players who actually want to win and will do what ever it takes to win. All scouting reports say that Bennett is a clone of Doug Gilmore, in the way he competes and does anything to win. Maybe he could teach the other so called stars, what it means to play with heart and what it takes to win.

  • I tried it at home

    So are the writers of OilersNation going to do a GDB today? They must be taking straws cause I don’t blame them having to come up with new material to write about… Especially against the San Jose Sharks

      • Doctor Smashy

        I agree, which is why I look forward to the GDB more then the game itself. If the Oilers put in half the effort these writers do with the GDB the Oilers might have been in the playoff mix.

    • Numenius

      Everything you need to know about tonight’s game…. It’s not worth watching.

      is it true that the arena isn’t being built anymore? Heard their gonna save taxpayers hundreds of millions and just put up a circus tent now

  • Batfink

    Wow. Typical end of season run down, mail it in by ON. Game day and nearly 4pm and no GDB, but an article about the latest group of misfits that nobody else wants.

  • Mason Storm


    Oilers get pushed around by a bigger, stronger, more structured and disciplined team. There are three two on ones during Oilers PPs and miraculously they aren’t scored on shorthanded. Sharks win 4-2, but outshoot the Oil 43-21. Oilers only manage 5 shots in a ~frantic~ third period push.

  • Numenius

    Wow. Holmberg’s WHL numbers line up very well with Johnson’s, who’s on track to put up more points than Gagner ever has.

    He’ll be interesting to follow as a prospect.

  • v4ance

    From Cult of Hockey: “Guy Flaming of TSN 1260′s The Pipeline Show points out on Twitter that Green is in fact Holmberg’s step father. I guess that’s one way to get the inside track on a young prospect!”

    Can we get Bob Green to marry Shea Weber’s mom? Just a random thought…

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Now if Mr. Green can get Derrick Laxdal to come and be an Assistant Coach, I’ll be happy.

    Yes Im aware that its not up to Green to bring in coaches, but maybe he can bend MacT’s ear. Laxdal seems to work great with a team that really wasn’t expected to make the playoffs, and Laxdal cant be worse than Bucky or Smith.

  • Zamboni Driver

    I wonder if Six Cups told Stauffer he had to use the word “significant” to describe people his ‘fans’ (quotes for both Bob and Kevie) have never heard of and will never hear of again.

    OOOOOOOOOOH they’re significant undrafted nobodies going to the minor leagues.

    Colour me intrigued.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      I like this comment. Lets not get too excited about these undrafted players yet. Expectations now can only lead to more hurt.

      I really respect Bob Green as a hockeyman tho.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Even if these guys dont work out I like the idea of signing talent outside of the draft, so big props to management for at least showing us that.

    Just the fact that these guys are signing with us amazes me tho.