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Edmonton Oilers Prospect Countdown #5 – Phil Kemp

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Bruce Curlock
9 months ago
Phil Kemp, who is trying be the second right-hand defenceman, 7th round pick to make the Oilers, enters the Edmonton Oilers Prospect Countdown at #5.
Position: Defence
Shoots: Right
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: February 12, 1999
Drafted: 7th Round, 2017
Height: 6’3″ / 191 cm
Weight: 202 lbs / 92 kg
Ranking last year: #13
At one point last year, I would have suggested that Phil Kemp’s best path to the NHL would have been with another team. Then Vinny Desharnais was called up. Michael Kesselring was traded. The Oilers did not add to the right side in the off-season. Voila! Phil Kemp is now primed for a call-up to play right-shot defence for the Edmonton Oilers.
Now that paragraph may sound like Kemp being gifted the role, but I wouldn’t be so quick to judge. At the age of 23, Phil Kemp went 6-15-21 in 71 games with Bakersfield last year. At the age of 23, Vincent Desharnais went 0-13 in 31 games for the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL. In fact, Vincent Desharnais’s AHL breakout season did not occur until his 25-year-old season. Kemp doesn’t turn 25 until near the end of this coming season.
Now Kemp’s stats do not leap off the page, but neither did Desharnais’ point totals. Further, Kemp has some offensive tools that are pretty strong. I suspect a lot of those skills developed playing at the UNTDP program with Quinn Hughes as his partner. He has really nice instincts to attack for offence.

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Kemp also has an absolute bomb of a shot. Watch this little display from the faceoff against Henderson last year. This is a clean beat with no traffic.

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Fluke, you say! Not true, I say. Watch these releases on the attack.

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However, the most understated element of Kemp’s game is his passing and I think it is why he has a chance. Phil Kemp has really good scanning instincts before he gets the puck and makes accurate passes when the puck gets to him.

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No question he can pass the puck in the offensive zone. However, I think the chance Kemp has to make the NHL stems from his passing ability to help his team exit their own zone. He’s very patient and very good.

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Phil Kemp makes very good decisions with the puck. I really believe this is the one skill that would jump off the page if he played with higher-skill players. He scans the ice well, remains calm and then delivers a strong, accurate pass.
The other part of his game that is quite good obviously is his defensive game. He is the shutdown defender on the Condors and plays all high-leverage situations when leading to go with his first pair penalty kill work. He prefers to defend the bluelines as opposed to allowing attackers to gain entry.

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He is also an excellent positional defender who works to keep his outside shoulder on the inside shoulder of the attacker. He then closes well and uses his stick to defend quite well.

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What separates Phil Kemp from the NHL is one thing: skating. His boots are heavy. Again, not fatal. Vinny Desharnais isn’t fleet of foot either. Also, Kemp is still at an age curve where he can improve some. If Kemp can improve on his lateral movement and prevent these types of plays from occurring, then he definitely has a chance to play.

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For the coming season, Phil Kemp is going to play 1RD and first pairing on the penalty kill and all shutdown situations. If Kemp can do all of that well plus continue to develop his offense, there is little question he will get a look. The Oilers remain thin in the defensive group. It is a long season and injuries do happen. Should that be the case, Quinn Hughes’ former partner might see him lining up against him this season.

Previously in the countdown

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