Among the players coming to Oilers camp who are considered locks to land in Bakersfield, Joe Gambardella intrigues me most. His age (23), position (center) and resume (strong college career) are all good arrows and his NHLE (39.5) is very strong. The underlying math for college men is sparse, but the numbers we do know about this player are quality.
fwiw i had gambardella, a center playing the toughest competition, at appx. +2.9% CF, +3 FF%, +1.6 SF%, +1.7 HQF%, +19.2% GF% at 5v5 this yr
— 🦖 ryan lambert 🦕 (@twolinepass) March 28, 2017
Lambert’s numbers reflect a pretty damned good hockey player and his line (described here) was the talk of college hockey last spring. It was a forechecking possession line and Gambardella’s job was to be aggressive and work like a demon. It’s likely those skills will be on display in Penticton and then main Oilers camp this month and Todd McLellan is going to notice.
If we make a list of Oilers forwards after the top 12F, names like Jujkhar Khaira, Iiro Pakarinen, Ty Rattie and Brad Malone appear. I think Gambardella should be right in that mix, with his ability to play center an added advantage. If we see him hang around late in training camp, then a recall in-season is possible. His NHLE is just shy of Drake Caggiula’s from a year ago (44). Spencer Foo, a highly sought prospect over the summer, had an NHLE of 30.8. Folks, Gambardella is a good prospect. He is best described as a two-way forward, a lock for top 6F in Bakersfield and he should post strong boxcars. Went 6gp, 1-2-3 at the end of the AHL season, so 35-40 points in 68 games seems possible in the minors.
- Ryan Lambert: The game Lowell brings to the table every season is hard forechecking and cycling, but few lines have done it to the level of perfection Gambardella, Smith, and Edwardh brought this year. They create so many own-zone turnovers that end up in the back of the net, and leave opposing coaches shaking their heads. Coaches tend to categorize these things as uncharacteristic mistakes, and to some extent that’s true. But the mistakes are very characteristic of what happens when you play the River Hawks. Source
I bet Todd McLellan will notice. We’ll see if Gambardella can bring it at the NHL level, but Bakersfield is the first stop. Gambardella chose his NHL team well, as the Oilers’ 2012, 2013 and 2014 entry drafts created a substantial need for useful forwards with NHL potential.