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Has new Edmonton Oilers signing discovered the $10 million Equation of Abrasion?

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I’ve subscribed to on and off for years now, seen promising younger gamers come and go. I’ve watched dozens of Edmonton Oilers prospects fail, solely a handful succeed.

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One query usually rises to the highest of my thoughts: What doesn’t this or that prospect play with extra toughness, aggression and outright abrasiveness, which might give him an amazing leg up by way of discovering his method into the NHL?

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A lot of AHL prospects have stable sufficient dimension, talent and hockey smarts, however they’re missing within the form of ferocious edge to their sport which may win them a fourth line or third-pairing job within the NHL.

If solely they may discover that nasty side, grasp that Equation of Abrasion, it may imply one or two or three NHL contracts over their profession, and perhaps as a lot as $10 million in additional pay throughout their profession, perhaps much more.

A couple of AHL gamers have pulled off this trick lately. For instance, little Antoine Roussel was by no means a lot of a talent participant by NHL requirements however he obtained paid greater than $20 million in his NHL profession as a hitter and agitator.  Vincent Desharnais of the Oilers would possibly properly be on the identical path, amping up his bodily play to first earn a minor league contract, then an Entry Stage Contract, then video games with the Edmonton Oilers final season.

However an unlimited variety of gamers transfer by means of the AHL with out ever growing that edge.

In time, I’ve come to appreciate that it’s not really easy to be a troublesome man in professional hockey. If it was straightforward, everybody would do it, proper?

However it’s just too troublesome and intimidating a job for many gamers to deal with. In any case, it comes with loads of stress and damage, such because the bruising of fixed hitting, the anxiousness of making ready every night time for violent confrontation, and the concern of dropping badly in a struggle. It’s merely not for everybody.

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However it is perhaps for Noel Hoefenmayer.

On July 1 of 2023, the Oilers signed Hoefenmayer to a one-year Entry Stage Contract, giving a neat abstract of his professional profession thus far: “The 6-foot-0, 192 pound defender spent the previous three seasons enjoying for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. The 24-year-old was chosen by Arizona within the fourth spherical (108th general) of the 2017 Draft. The left-shot defenceman noticed motion in 91 AHL video games over the previous three seasons with 13 targets, 34 assists and 138 penalty minutes.”

Hoefenmayer had been drafted within the fourth spherical of the 2017 draft by the Arizona Coyotes. He had been ranked seventy fifth general by NHL Central Scouting Companies, 92nd by The Draft Analyst, 71st by Future Concerns, 52nd by Craig Button at TSN and 66th by Jeremy Davis of the Canucks Military weblog.

At the moment he was primarily identified for his offensive capability.

“He’s excellent with the puck,” Tim Bernhardt, Arizona’s Director of Beginner Scouting, mentioned on the draft. “There’s some offense with him. He likes to become involved within the play and may be very proactive from the again finish and jumps into the play and acknowledges when to. We expect that with some skating growth he was an actual good worth within the fourth spherical.”

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Famous Ontario League scout Brock Otten additionally favored Hoefenmayer’s shot and offensive talent speeding the puck, however questioned his aggression. “I do want that he was extra aggressive in attacking the corners and defending the entrance of his internet, particularly given his common dimension. That is significantly fascinating as a result of Hoefenmayer was really touted as a really bodily, onerous nosed defender on the midget stage, however that hasn’t translated to the OHL stage but. Might be a confidence/energy factor. I feel the opposite difficulty is that I see Hoefenmayer as solely a mean skater.”

Ultimately, Arizona didn’t ever provide him an Entry Stage Contract. No different workforce drafted him or signed him.

That was a serious setback for Hoefenmayer, so he went again to Ottawa for a fifth 12 months of junior hockey, the place he flourished. His GM James Boyd instructed The Hockey Information: “He had the offensive aptitude, however his complete sport rounded out and have become a very succesful defender. And he developed his shot over time, to the purpose the place this 12 months it was an actual weapon for us and the principle cause our energy play was as profitable because it was… He constantly improved. The actual fact Arizona drafted him reveals that individuals noticed potential in him early. He had the explosion this 12 months to steer the league in scoring by a defenseman on a workforce that is among the stingiest defensively; that speaks to his development.”

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In the summertime of 2020, the Leafs signed him to a minor league deal to play of their system, the place he spent the previous three seasons.

Two issues stand out from his junior and minor professional stats: first, that Hoefenmayer has constantly had stable offensive numbers, placing up 82 factors in 58 video games in his closing 12 months with Ottawa and 38 factors in 65 AHL video games final 12 months; second, that final season for the primary time Hoefenmayer had greater than 100 penalty minutes, 114 in complete.

He’d by no means been one to run up his penalty minutes earlier than, getting simply 37 minutes within the 58 video games of his closing main junior season, for instance.

However the sin bin grew to become a typical vacation spot for him final 12 months. He was the second most penalized participant on his AHL workforce.


Digging a bit deeper, it grew to become evident from his web page at that after he was referred to as as much as Toronto from the ECHL late within the 2021-22 season that for the primary time in his profession he began to get into a substantial variety of fights.

In his closing 10 video games of 2021-22, contemporary out of the ECHL, he obtained in two fights in 10 video games for the AHL Marlies. And final 12 months he obtained into six fights, which is a excessive quantity for a professional hockey participant within the 2020s.

There may be video of all six of these fights on youtube. The primary in late October noticed Hoefenmayer come to the defence of teammate Mikhail Abroamov, who had been hit onerous by Daniel Walcott of Syracuse. Hoefenmayer picked the struggle and wrestled Walcott to the ice.

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In early December, Hoefenmayer once more got here to the defence of a clobbered teammate, this time choosing a struggle with Koen Olischefski of Rochester. Hoefenmayer pounded out some revenge on Olischefski and dropped him.

It’s not clear why Hoefenmayer went after Navrin Mutter of Milwaukee every week later however Hoef did so and the 2 scrapped for a second. Simply after Christmas, Hoefenmayer was at it once more, preventing Jayce Hawryluk of Belleville.

As soon as once more on Feb. 11, Hoefenmayer but once more got here to a teammate’s defence, battling with Dominic Franco of Charlotte, who had given a unclean elbow to considered one of Hoef’s teammates. He pulled Franco to the ice.

Lastly in early April he battled Jarid Lukosevicius of Belleville after a slash fest in entrance of the web.

At the very least 3 times Hoef got here to the defence of a teammate final 12 months, the form of issues that goes over extraordinarily properly in any dressing room. Mentioned his teammate William Villeneuve of Hoef: “He brings it each night time. I feel his defensive play and his bodily sport may be very underrated. I feel he’s actually onerous to play towards.”

Might or not it’s that Hoefenmayer determined that to interrupt out of the ECHL and AHL he wanted so as to add a component to his sport, and that component can be constantly and repeatedly taking over fights of teammates.

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If that’s the case, good for him. It’s a tough path, however I believe it assist earn him an NHL Entry Stage Contract with Edmonton.

Expectations for 2023-24: Edmonton has signed various stable puck movers on the AHL stage, Cam Dineen, Ben Gleason and Hoefenmayer. There’s additionally eight d-men who performed on the Oilers final 12 months on the depth chart, plus defensive d-man Phil Kemp and rookie Max Wanner. Hoefenmayer may have no straightforward time battling his approach to the NHL but when damage hits onerous on the Oil defence, I believe Hoef may fill in and maintain his personal. Given his robust play with the puck, and willingness to battle for his teammates, may he shock and win credit score in Edmonton? Stranger issues have occurred.


The Cult of Hockey’s Prospect Collection

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STAPLES: Edmonton Oilers shut out on NHL Community’s High 50 prospects

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