logo

Edmonton Oilers Prospect Countdown #6: James Hamblin

alt
Bruce Curlock
7 months ago
A guy who got a cup of coffee with the Oilers last year, James Hamblin finds himself at #6 in the Edmonton Oilers Prospect Countdown.
Position: Centre
Shoots: Left
Nationality: Canada
Date of Birth: April 27, 1999
Drafted: Undrafted
Height: 5’9″ / 175 cm
Weight: 176 lbs / 80 kg
Ranking last year: #11
Yanni Gourde went undrafted. So did James Hamblin. Yanni Gourde is 5’9″. So is James Hamblin. Yanni Gourde is 174 pounds. James Hamblin is roughly the same weight. Yanni Gourde played his first serious NHL games as a 25 year old. James Hamblin did so at the age of 23. Yanni Gourde has played a total of 465 NHL games.
Why am I talking about Yanni Gourde? Well, it’s to counter the narrative that James Hamblin had his shot and he’s not going to make it. That might be right. He played ten games without scoring a point. No question that was not a good outcome. Indeed, if you wanted to see a major difference between Yanni Gourde and James Hamblin. Yanni Gourde exploded in his first full season with 25-39-64 in 82 games. Can James Hamblin do that if he makes the Oilers? Well his career stats suggest he has a chance.
Let’s start with what James Hamblin is always going to offer to his team. This is a very high hockey sense player who reads the game incredibly well and has good skating ability which allows him to make plays off his reads.

Failed to load video.

Hamblin plays on the right side of the puck consistently and he will do anything to ensure that offence is prevented at his end of the ice.

Failed to load video.

Now let’s focus on the two issues that will need to be stronger for Hamblin to make an NHL career. First, his size. Yes, he is roughly the same size as Gourde, but Gourde plays a hard, greasy game in order to create space for himself. Hamblin has not really developed that element to his game. What you want to see from Hamblin is more plays where he attaches to bigger players getting inside their hands and using his lower leverage to push these players off balance and separate them from the puck. He also needs to keep moving his feet so he doesn’t get pinned by larger, stronger players. Here is a subtle clip that shows what Hamblin needs to keep doing.

Failed to load video.

As for creating offence, I think Hamblin can do it. He has an excellent range of physical attributes to create offence. The biggest element to it is that he is quite willing to start deep in his own zone and has the tools to move the puck into offensive opportunities.

Failed to load video.

When he gets a chance, James Hamblin flashes really nice hands and quick puck skills even in uneven circumstances.

Failed to load video.

Watch this quick read and great pass execution from Kemp to Hamblin to Lavoie.

Failed to load video.

James Hamblin can also score the puck. He again displays quick hand speed and decision-making in close-quarter attacks against goalies.

Failed to load video.

Failed to load video.

Failed to load video.

Now I do not think Hamblin will be a big goal scorer at the NHL level because his shot lacks some power and isn’t really quick off the stick. However, Hamblin seems to know what he wants to do with the puck before it gets on his stick and that quick decision-making takes goalies by surprise. If he can keep doing that, James Hamblin might just surprise some of the people who have already written him off as an NHL prospect.

Previously in the countdown

Check out these posts...