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Top Edmonton Oilers prospect stories of 2023 — No. 5: Noah Philp retires

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Curlock
6 months ago
This week, I’m excited to present what I think are some of the most significant stories from 2023 for Edmonton Oiler prospects. Some of these stories are about individual prospects, but some are more general topics about the state of the situation for the depth chart of the Edmonton Oilers below the big club.
Today, we begin with a story of a player who retired while on the cusp of making the leap to NHL play. That player is Noah Philp.
When word came down about Philp’s retirement, it didn’t cause a tremendous rumble in Oiler fandom. After all, Philp was a 24-year-old who had been signed as a free agent in June of 2022 from the University of Alberta after spending  four years in the WHL. However, for those who follow the organization closely or who had seen Philp as a Golden Bear (We see you out there Zach Laing, Tyler Yaremchuk and Bob Stauffer!), the retirement was a loss.
To best explain why it was a loss, let’s look at the year James Hamblin is having with the Edmonton Oilers. He has put up 2-1—3 in 21 games while registering 12 shots on net. Modest, but at eight minutes per night, about what could be expected from Hamblin. His fancies are average, but for fourth line minutes, they are acceptable. His goal share is 8-7 for 53 percent and the expected goal share is right around 49 percent. He kills penalties in a pinch, and he wins about 53 percent of his faceoffs. In short, he does lots of little things that are important to a NHL team, but mostly what he does is not get caved by other teams.
What does this have to do with Noah Philp? Well, let’s take a look at the year 2022/23 for each of Philp and Hamblin in Bakersfield. Hamblin averaged .54 pts/g while Philp averaged .53 pts/g. Philp and Hamblin were counted on in both the penalty kill and the powerplay. Hamblin was -1 in plus-minus, and Philp was +4. These players were relatively the same in terms of their on-ice performance.
What’s different is Noah Philp has a couple of more intangibles that James Hamblin does not. First, Hamblin has doubled their AHL experience with Philp with 160 games to Philp’s 73 games. Philp is also a right-handed center as opposed to Hamblin, who is a left-shot center.
Finally, and for certain, most important is that Noah Philp is 6’3″ and 200 pounds. Hamblin, who has incredible battle level, is 5’10” and 185 pounds. As has been said many times across many sports, you cannot coach size. Philp is a big right-shot center with a more than 55 percent success rate in the faceoff dot. He also racked up 61 minutes of penalties last year and certainly made his presence known.

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So why is the Philp retirement important? Well, I don’t think it should come as a surprise that I believe Philp would be playing fourth-line center minutes for the Edmonton Oilers as opposed to James Hamblin. This doesn’t make James Hamblin a bad player, nor one who cannot contribute at the NHL level. Philp brings some intangibles the Oilers could’ve used. A big, rangy right-shot center who is strong in the face-off dot.

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He’s a 200-foot worker who can handle physical play and use his body both to defend and attack.

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No question James Hamblin has made a great contribution to the Oilers as an undrafted free-agent signing. Almost as equally certain is that Noah Philp would have been taking those shifts in the NHL this season. His size and handedness would have tipped the scales in his favour, and the Oiler search for a big right-shot center might have been over.

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