Future Watch: Jesse Gimblett
U of A alum brings physical game to Oilers ECHL affiliate in Stockton
|Jesse Gimblett showcases his significant black eye during warm-up before a Stockton Thunder game. (Photo by Sean Blair/Stockton Thunder)|
A black eye, earned in his ECHL debut with the Stockton Thunder, which evolved through the course of two fights in a game capped off by a power-play goal in the team's season opener against the Ontario Reign.
Needless to say, he's made his mark.
Video Interview: Mike Benton chats with Jesse Gimblett
“It's part of the game,” said Gimblett, when asked about facing physical challenges every night. “You have to understand that (fighting) might happen night to night, and it might not happen for a few games. You just have to be ready at any time.”
Ironic that a lumbering 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame is countered by his soft-spoken presence, Gimblett, a left winger originally signed into the Edmonton Oilers farm system as a free agent, is one of many hopefuls looking to climb the Oilers farm system ladder on the way to an NHL career.
With many young, promising blue chip talent being leaned on to fill the scoring void like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi, big league applications are still being accepted for proverbial “big man” role with a young and developing Oilers squad.
“I'm quite comfortable playing the big man's game,” said Gimblett. “I'm trying just to get to the net, create pressure and play physical – night in, night out.”
The environment is an appropriate launching pad for Gimblett, who joins the farm system of a team not too far away from his college stomping grounds. He earned the admiration of many Edmontonians over the last four years with the University of Alberta, playing in a hockey program separated by just a 15 minute drive away from Rexall Place.
Now, his career takes the next step in Stockton, where the Thunder have helped seven players make their NHL debut in the last four seasons, including Devan Dubnyk. With limited time in Oilers training camp and several days in AHL camp with the Oklahoma City Barons, he's already hard at work with adapting to a professional learning curve, where the schedule is longer and the playing pace is quicker.
“Being (in camp with Edmonton and Oklahoma City) gave me a good gauge at where my speed and tempo is, what I need to work on and where I need to be to get to the next level,” said Gimblett. “It's something I have to work on every day and you won't develop just overnight.”
|Ontario-native Jesse Gimblett played four season with the Univeristy of Alberta's Golden Bears before starting the 2010-11 campaign with the ECHL's Stockton Thunder. (Photo by Sean Blair/Stockton Thunder)|
In what helped to seal the deal for his professional future, eventually leading to an AHL tryout contract with Springfield, Gimblett continued to torture opposing goaltenders with his skill set and willingness to crowd the crease while imposing his physical stature in physical battles helping guide the University of Alberta to the University Cup championship game against the St. Mary's Huskies.
Only an overtime goal by the opposing Huskies separated Gimblett from championship glory. Yet, he admitted a refined poise and mental preparation that is often a character trait of those who break through the NHL doors and grind their way through an 82-game regular season schedule.
“When you get into those big games and get through with your first one, it's just a game of hockey,” said Gimblett. “You start to realize getting too hyped up isn't the best thing. You need to find a fine line of where you play your best and do whatever it takes for the team to win.”
Simply put, he's best defined by no superstitions and a “meat and potatoes” approach.
“I think if you're able to create good habits and you're able to stay consistent with them, that's the key,” said Gimblett. “I don't have a big superstition. I just try to come to the rink, try to give same effort every day, I just try to do everything to the best of my abilities.”
That approach has helped Gimblett settle in with a Stockton team that eyes a Kelly Cup championship, one season after falling six wins shy of a title in Game 6 of the Conference Final. He joins nine returning players from that team and has experienced no problem with fitting in with Head Coach Matt Thomas' physical forecheck game, where he already has a pair of goals and 12 penalty minutes in four games.
His first ever pro goal came at Stockton Arena on the same night where he dropped the mitts with Ontario's Luke Beaverson and David Walker and scored on a play that goaltender Kellen Briggs, maybe, never saw coming. Gimblett squared his body up in front of the goaltender's line of sight and a left circle shot by teammate Fraser Clair, deflecting the puck past Briggs.
He then put up his second goal last Saturday at Ontario in the second period, scoring the first marker for the Thunder in a 3-2 shootout win when he picked up a rebound at the side of the net and darted behind it, eventually slipping in a wrap-around that was too quick for Briggs' glove.
“His goal last Saturday was a play that not too many big men can make at the pro level,” said Thomas. “He's been involved on the forecheck consistently, isn't afraid to throw around his body and as he continues to apply himself, his hockey sense and will is going to put him in the middle of high-quality chances to score.”
At the end of next summer, Gimblett will have at least completed the following in a calendar year: play in a college championship game, skate in NHL training camp, score his first pro goal, and earn his college degree (to be completed next summer).
It's a weight of obligations. But as hockey has proven, it's nothing too heavy for a sizable player geared on making a career by way of sheer force.
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2010-11 OILERS PROSPECT STATS
|19||14||3||1||4||11||Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)|
|20||9||0||2||2||0||Oklahoma city barons (AHL)|
|18||14||4||3||7||13||kootenay ice (WHL)|
|29||10||6||5||11||20||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||13||6||10||16||6||saskatoon blades (whl)|
|20||10||3||0||3||7||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|20||4||2||3||5||4||quinnipiac university (ecac)|
|21||9||0||2||2||2||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||14||3||3||6||12||timra ik (sel)|
|23||6||0||1||1||4||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||13||6||8||14||10||ottawa 67's (ohl)|
|31||10||3||5||8||2||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||10||0||2||2||15||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||10||3||5||8||20||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|28||10||0||1||1||12||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||13||1||1||2||8||edmonton oil kings|
|19||9||3||7||10||7||medicine hat tigets (whl)|
|19||11||2||4||6||0||ilves tampere (fnl)|
|24||10||5||2||7||2||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|24||6||0||0||0||13||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||9||1||1||2||4||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|25||10||1||9||10||17||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|22||1||0||0||0||0||Stockton thunder (echl)|
|21||3||0||1||1||4||merrimack college (h-east)|
|18||2||0||1||1||2||acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)|
|23||10||0||3||3||8||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||14||1||8||9||9||regina pats (whl)|
|19||8||0||0||0||20||chicago steel (ushl)|
|18||14||6||9||15||21||prince george cougars (whl)|
|21||7||0||0||0||7||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|28||10||0||4||4||6||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||10||2||4||6||4||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|21||10||0||1||1||28||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||7||3||4||0||0||2.99||.897||medicine hat tigers (whl)|
|36||8||4||4||0||0||2.46||.916||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|22||2||1||1||0||0||3.52||.891||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||9||6||3||0||0||2.38||.922||acadie-bathhurst titan (qmjhl)|