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The Copper And Blue 2020 Top 25 Under 25: #17 Philip Kemp

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The Case of the Invisible ELC

USA v Finland: Gold Medal Game - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images

Editor’s note: This piece was produced prior to Kemp signing his entry-level deal today. How’s that for timing?

Background and Introduction

The Edmonton Oilers drafted Philip Kemp in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Interestingly enough, the Oilers have yet to sign Kemp to an entry level deal. Kemp has played the last four seasons with Yale in the ECAC. He was slated to be the team captain in the 2020/2021 season, but with the NCAA just starting to play games Kemp may yet get to record some games with the C on his chest.

With the current state of management for the global COVID 19 pandemic, it will be interesting if he does get some games played this season or if the season will be almost held over until next year.

Kemp had 11 points in 32 games played for Yale last season. Through the course of his playing career, he’s been part of US teams which have won a couple of impressive World Juniors medals: U18 gold and U20 silver. He doesn’t have any really impressive statistics in his past, but he is a solid, if unimpressive performer. And defensively minded!

Kemp is a decently sized (6’3” and 209lbs) right shooting defenseman who has spent considerable amounts of time honing his game in the NCAA and would normally be someone that would be expected to take the next step in his career, whatever that is, at the end of this season.

Shona Corey Matt Preston Jeff Ira
18 16 18 15 16 18

Why He Made the List

Kemp is unimpressive offensively, but the Oilers are fortunate to have some offensive players that mean his offensive output isn’t as much of a worry. Kemp has a strong defensive game. He’s physical and able to use that thing between his ears too making him an intriguing defensive prospect. And deepening the mystery of why he hasn’t been offered an ELC yet…

Kemp has the ability to make offensive players uncomfortable, break up plays, and hopefully shows some of that positive character that seems to be so crucial in locker rooms. Hopefully, his leadership qualities haven’t been overstated by his captaincy in a Division 1 NCAA school.

Kemp is also fairly far along his developmental track. He’s got a good physical game and puck handling. He’s aware of what he can and cannot do, so he’s hopefully not going to put himself out of position. He has a better sense of what his game is after three full years in the NCAA.

At 21, the Oilers should know in the next year if they want to take a chance on Kemp or move on to other defenders. It’s not like they have a shortage of young defenders in their developmental systems right now.

Why He Made the List at 17

Mathematically, the Copper and Blue team all of a feeling that Kemp is one of those prospects with potential but not a really high ceiling. It’s why he’s no lower than 18 but no higher than 15. None of think this is a prospect with some hidden depths.

He’s been listed as a potential bottom pairing defender, and that’s probably the best case scenario. He could be a serviceable AHL player who’s called up the NHL on a needs basis. Somewhat like the Oilers were trying to sell when they signed Keegan Lowe to the Condors.

Furthermore, Kemp’s passing isn’t great. His best games were playing alongside Hughes, which just doesn’t work since we’re not the Canucks, and his offense output may not be enough to justify a place on the team. The Oilers have a deep pool of defensive prospects who have just as much defensive ability and slightly more zip to the offense.