Chasing the NHL

Greg Chase could be the draft success that the Oilers have been looking for. I’ve touched on this idea before during the summer, but now with the season under way, it seemed like a good time to dig into the subject a bit more.

Heading into the 2013 NHL Draft, Stu MacGregor was at the helm, with many people lauding his drafting ability, dubbing him “The Magnificent Bastard”. But outside of the first round, a majority of which were first overall picks, and a few hits in the second round, there wasn’t much magnificent about the players MacGregor was bringing into the system. The 2013 draft changed that.

Heading into the 7th round, the Oilers had handed out nine jerseys over the course of the two days. As this post is being written, three of those picks (Darnell Nurse, Bogdan Yakimov, and Anton Slepyshev) have made their NHL debuts. This is to say, it was a very good draft for the Oilers that year. But its perhaps the player taken in the 7th round that day that could become the late round pick Edmonton has long awaited.

Selected 188th overall, Greg Chase, a native of Sherwood Park, was coming off a moderately successful season with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, posting17-32-49 in 69 games. The following year, Chase would break out, leading the Hitmen in points during his 70 games, with 35 goals, and 50 assists for 85 points. That same year, Chase would make his pro debut following Calgary’s 6 game elimination in the first round of the playoffs. During those six post season games, Chase continued his strong play, with 4 goals and 9 points. Chase would go on to play in the final five games of the season for the Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL, netting one goal.

The following year, Chase would experience some turmoil off ice. After scoring 15 points in 15 games, Chase would be a healthy scratch for the Hitmen, signaling a falling out between the WHL club and the skilled forward. Eventually, Chase would be traded to the Victoria Royals, and would contribute 44 points, including 18 goals, in his 46 games. The Royals headed into the WHL Playoffs that year as a serious championship contender, and would have most likely made it the finals, except for a second round match up with another Oilers prospect, Leon Draisaitl, and a stacked Kelowna Rockets team.

Chase finished out his WHL career with 11 points in 10 post season games, and while Draisaitl and the Rockets would go on to win the WHL Championship, and advance to the Memorial Cup, Chase would once again join the Barons in the AHL, this time for their own playoff push. Chase would dress for four games in the post season with the Barons, collecting one assist.

Greg Chase would enter Oilers training camp in 2015 as a first year pro. And while making the big club was a long shot with the likes of Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Anton Lander, and Mark Letestu in the fold, cracking the roster on the newly christened AHL Bakersfield Condors was looking to be a tough task as well. It was when the Oilers assigned Draisaitl to Bakersfield that decisions had to be made, and one of those decisions was to send Chase, along with fellow 2013 draftee Ben Betker, to the Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL.

There could be any number of reasons the Oilers chose to send Chase to the ECHL. Perhaps it was just a numbers game, and the addition of a blue chip player like Draisaitl to Bakersfield. Or perhaps it was a bit of a discipline issue. Chase has never shied away from playing with an edge, and it’s possible the issue with the Hitmen in his final year of junior had something to do with the assignment.

Currently, Chase is riding a five game point streak in Norfolk, and leads the Admirals with 3 goals, and is tied for the team lead with 5 points through 6 games. However, after Draisaitl was recalled by the Oilers, the Condors had a hole to fill, and elected to recall Alexis Loiseau. Not that Loiseau is a slouch, as last season he posted 96 points in 68 games with the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL, although he went undrafted, and signed an AHL deal with the Condors.

That being said, if Chase can continue to put up productive numbers with the Admirals, it should only be a matter of time until he dresses for the Condors. And with it looking more and more like Leon Draisaitl won’t be returning to the AHL anytime soon, there should be plenty of opportunity for Greg Chase to show that, at number 188 in the 7th round, the Oilers truly did make a “magnificent” pick.


Corey Mitchell Written by:

Dad to two great kids, avid hockey fan, cheering for Oilers and Penguins. All time favorite player is the magnificent one himself, Mario Lemieux.