Since General Manager Peter Chiarelli took over, the Edmonton Oilers have hit the jackpot with their NCAA signees.
Not only is Drake Caggiula one of the team’s most promising forwards, but Matthew Benning is already showing potential as a top-four defenceman, and Nick Ellis is budding into a strong goaltending prospect.
As Edmonton continues to build its depth, they are still investing in NCAA free agents. One of their latest college additions is Joseph Gambardella, a promising forward that is somewhat of a hidden gem and adds plenty of depth down the middle.
Primarily a centre in his time with U-Mass Lowell, the 23-year-old has done a lot to develop and improve his numbers. In his senior year with the River Hawks, he impressed with 18 goals and 52 points through 41 games and was a plus-21.
Gambardella in Edmonton
Gambardella signed an entry-level deal with the Oilers back in March, a two-year window for him to prove his worth. He got the opportunity to play six games with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors this past season, where he had a goal and three points.
The 5-foot-10, 201-pound forward is on the smaller side but is one of the toughest competitors to match up against, and shows great potential as a two-way forward. He isn’t afraid to enter battles for the puck in the corner and along the boards and usually comes out on top. Not to mention, Gambardella plays a solid 200-foot game and can take great care of the puck.
Offensively, he has taken steps to improve his playmaking ability, and it has shown in his numbers. All he has to work on is shooting the puck and improving his speed, as well as preparing to transition to the NHL level. Though he’s not slender, he is on the shorter side and will need to improve physically and be able to withstand the rough-and-tumble environment of the league.
Overall, Gambardella is a promising forward and another promising NCAA signee for the Oilers organization. He will likely have to prove his worth in Bakersfield, but if he stands out, he will be in the NHL sooner rather than later.