One of the more natural prospect comparisons for Noah Philp is Derek Ryan. I mean I don’t really understand why people go that route at all. No clue what would give people that idea. I mean Ryan is a right-shot center, who went undrafted, then went to the University of Alberta. After that, he was signed as a free agent and rode the bus all over the place before making it to the NHL. Oh, so maybe that’s somewhat close to Philp’s path. However, let me ask you this question: is Noah Philp an incredibly smart, defence-first forward, who will play strong PK, win faceoffs and chip in with the occasional goal? Wut? You’re saying that is exactly what he is? Ok, maybe don’t show this to my boss because I need the pay! In today’s edition of the Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report, we talk about Derek Ryan’s big, but little “brother from another mother” as well as the long-awaited emergence of a fourth-round pick and much more below.
Who Caught My Eye?
I’m trying to think of something eye-catching to say about Noah Philp, but the only thing I can think of is “Noah Philp is going to play NHL games soon.” Is that good enough? I hope so because this young man flies way too far under the radar in this organization. Whoever recommended that Noah Philp be signed deserves a bonus. He is a free space on the bingo card and he is trending toward being a player who will help the Edmonton Oilers down the line. When you have over $36-million dollars tied up in five forwards and limited draft picks due to trades, signing free agents who might populate your NHL roster within 18 months at a minimal salary cost is a necessity for continued success. Noah Philp, I believe will be a part of this success.
So what did Philp do this week that was so impressive? Well, his offence continues to develop at a level that I don’t believe was expected. As I have said here previously, Philp has a lot of tools for an NHL career. He’s a big body, right-shot center. He has great hockey sense in all three zones and he has a keen ability to turn pucks over. However, the AHL is populated with players that fit this description. The difference in who gets called up more often is scoring. If you cannot score at the AHL level as a forward, it is very hard to get a look in the NHL. This was my major concern with Philp coming out of the greatest university in this fair land (Go Bears!). Well, Philp is doing his level best to make the OEG suits take notice that he can absolutely score at the AHL level. In two games this week, Philp had two goals and two assists. He is still at a modest .36 points per game pace for the year, but since the Condors returned from their Christmas break, Philp is scoring at a .63 points per game pace.
Now Philp’s goals weren’t generated by his lethal release. Instead, the goals were created by going to the net and showing some very nice hands.
More impressive to me is that even when Philp didn’t score this week, he was winning puck battles, commanding the puck and then making deft plays to his teammates. Watch this entire shift which ended with the Hamblin goal. Philp doesn’t get an assist, but watch how much influence he has on this entire sequence.
Finally, here are a couple of very nice clips showing Philp’s really good hands and vision when quick reads are required by him to make plays. Philp’s hands and vision at the AHL level are plus level. The next challenge will be his ability to do this in the NHL.
Before we leave Noah Philp, I wanted to illustrate just how improved his skating is relative to even this summer in Penticton. Philp’s never going to beat Marcus Niemelainen for fastest Edmonton Oiler, but his skating is much better. His stride is getting longer. The boots come back quickly and pretty low to the ice. His upper body sway is really improved as well. It all is helping him to be a more efficient skater which allows him to make plays like this one.
The last facet of his skating that needs work is his first couple of steps. He is not quick to separate from players. That can be improved. However, he does have one advantage while he is working on this are of his game. He is 6’3″ and 220 pounds. He can and does use his body to help him get off players attacking him. Watch this little clip below.
Oh and before we leave Noah Philp. Look at the clip below. He does this well. Very well. Something that the Edmonton Oilers desperately need.
Jake Chiasson has certainly taken the road less travelled. The Oilers’ fourth-round selection in 2021 has not had the smoothest of development paths. He came to Oilers camp in the fall of his draft year and promptly suffered a serious shoulder injury that limited him to 20 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings. When the 2022/23 season arrived, Chiasson was looking for a full campaign with the Wheat Kings. Unfortunately, Chiasson really struggled with a team that was not picked to be very strong this year. His play had not only plateaued, it had regressed. Chiasson was traded a few weeks ago to the Saskatoon Blades who are a much stronger team competing with the Winnipeg Ice for the Eastern division in the WHL. The hope with the trade was that Chiasson would regain that spark that led him to be a point-per-game player in the 2020/21 bubble season. Well, that has seemed to work.
Before we get there, let’s talk about Jake Chiasson. He’s a 6’2″, 190-pound right winger. He plays the game like a smaller, power forward. He’s got a tenacious style on the forecheck and plays hard through all 200 feet of the sheet. The troubles for Chiasson is that he appears loaded with some offensive ability. Why is that trouble? Well, he hasn’t scored very much. This year 14-27-41 in 53 games, which is serviceable for a 19-year-old, but not really adequate for someone with his skills. Finally, that may be changing. In his last eight games, he has four goals and four assists. His patented quick release was on display in two very different, but impressive ways.
Now that Chiasson is starting to find his range from his draft year, we will want to see how he finishes the year. He has 19 games remaining in the regular season plus whatever playoffs come to Saskatoon. We should be looking for a player that finishes at a point-per-game average and continues to command top-line and top powerplay minutes. This will be a critical juncture for Chiasson given his next season should be his professional debut.
Now I cannot pretend to know what to do with Michael Kesselring. The Oilers already have Ceci, Barrie, Bourchard and Desharnais playing in Edmonton. There is not any room for another right-handed defenceman. However, Michael Kesselring just continues to bring the heat. This week in his two games, Kesselring had a goal and an assist while registering six shots on net. His goal, the 13th of the season, made him the top goal-scoring defenceman in the AHL. While his point total of 21 only places him 35th in the AHL for total scoring, if you remove all powerplay points, Kesselring would rank fourth. Kesselring rarely sees the ice on the powerplay, so he does literally all of his damage at evens. He did it again this week with his patented shot and then with an absolutely sublime assist as you can see below.
More impressive than Kesselring’s scoring prowess is his skating skills. Look at this clip where he retrieves a dump-in and promptly turns it into a rush attack leading to a shot on goal. I am convinced that it is this play that will raise the eyebrows of NHL scouts about what Kesselring might be able to do at the next level.
Now it was not all sunshine and roses this week for Kesselring. As I’ve noted, Kesselring can be slow to react to danger in the slot. That is something that definitely needs refinement before he takes the next step. In last week’s article, I said we should watch this over the remainder of the season. Well unfortunately it happened again. Watch Kesselring return to the net front as the strong side defenceman. When the puck carrier breaks contain and heads to the net, Kesselring needs to be there defending the front post. Instead he is late to react and ultimately it ends in a goal against. Progress in this area will be vital for Kesselring to get the trust of the organization to play in the NHL.
Well, folks that is it for this week. Next week promises to be a very busy week with all of the Oiler prospects playing a heavy slate of games. As always send me feedback to @bcurlock. My DMs are always open and thanks again for reading.