Oilers’ James Hamblin took the long way to the NHL

James Hamblin's NHL path has been unlike any other and he intends to stay with the Edmonton Oilers for the long haul.  (Getty images)
James Hamblin’s NHL path has been unlike any other, and he is determined to stay with the Edmonton Oilers for the long haul. (Getty images)

James Hamblin shouldn’t have lived to see this moment.

The short, undrafted Edmonton Oilers prospect was considered a season ago as an NHL career opportunity, but hell, that’s changed.

Hamblin, at least in the minds of fans and the media, had no chance of cracking the Oilers roster at the 2022-23 season premiere. Despite some respectable results in the American Hockey League the previous season, there were still many who were ahead of him in the depth chart. At least that’s what everyone thought.

Using his underdog history to his advantage, Hamblin stayed with the Oilers throughout training camp and would likely have earned himself a spot on the roster if it hadn’t been for Edmonton’s tight pay cap. Although he was no doubt disappointed by his late reassignment, he moved to the Bakersfield Condors and continued his excellent game.

As a result, he was recalled to the Oilers on Monday and only hours later was able to equip in his first NHL game, scoring just 10 minutes on the ice in a thrilling 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers.

The 23-year-old scored just eight goals in 33 games for the SSAC Lions in the 2012-13 season, an Edmonton-based Bantam AAA team. Ironically, another Oilers prospect, Tyler Benson, led the team in scoring, with Stuart Skinner as their starting goaltender.

Fast forward a few seasons and Hamblin was named to the Medicine Hat Tigers at the age of 16, which is an impressive feat for anyone at that age. However, he struggled to make an impact, scoring just one goal, registering only two assistants in 54 games. And again, he did not have the makings of a future NHL player.

Hamblin’s numbers grew over the next few seasons with the Tigers, but not enough to attract the attention of any NHL clubs, and he did not hear his name called in any of his draft-eligible years. However, he continued to work again with his head down, and it paid off in a big way.

During his last season with the Tigers at age 20, the 5-foot-9 forward scored 36 goals and 92 points in 63 games that not only led his team to scoring but also secured him a two-year AHL contract with the Bakersfield Condors. “.

In his first season with the Condors, Hamblin played in 38 games, scoring seven goals and 15 points. A respectable record, but not one that would make anyone think that he has a chance to build a relationship with the Oilers anytime soon. In the 2021/22 season, he improved those numbers with 21 goals and 35 points in 64 games. These figures caught the attention of the Oilers, who awarded him a two-year entry-level contract.

Sure, it hasn’t been an easy road, but it’s quickly turning into one of the sweetest stories in the NHL; a true testimony to never give up on your dreams. But while the young forward has undoubtedly faced many hardships on the ice in his lifetime, he has faced even more hardships off the rink.

In 2017, Hamblin’s mother, Gina, lost an uphill battle with cancer. Hamblin was only 18 at the time. It’s clear that while he’s trying to live out his childhood dream, a big part of the reason he’s fought so hard to achieve it in recent years is because his late mother, along with the rest of his family, are proud .

“Many tears were shed immediately” Hamblin told reporters when asked about his initial reaction to being challenged by the Oilers. “A lot of hard work has gone into getting to this point. Some rush of emotion. I immediately called my father and did not even have time to get through to him. It’s just super cool to be here and I’m just grateful for this opportunity.”

As for how long Hamblin stays at the big club, that will largely depend on how he performs in the next few games. With the likes of Evander Kane, Kyler Yamamoto and Ryan McLeod all out of the roster, there are plenty of opportunities for a team that craves productivity from its bottom six. Whether Hamblin can help in this area remains to be seen, but if there’s one thing he’s proven throughout his career so far, it’s that he’ll give everything he has to make sure he’s can stay for a long time. .

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Source: sports.yahoo.com