3 Edmonton Oilers who have been a surprise so far in 2023-24

We take a look at three players who have all proved to be a pleasant surprise for the Edmonton Oilers up to this point of the 2023-24 season.
Edmonton Oilers v Tampa Bay Lightning
Edmonton Oilers v Tampa Bay Lightning / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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2) James Hamblin

James Hamblin's rookie campaign with the Oilers was nothing to write home about, not that much was expected from him per se. However, while he produced no points and a -3 rating in 10 games, at least he gained some experience at the NHL level.

Fast forward to earlier this season and Hamblin was recalled on short-term emergency relief, after the Oilers were forced to face the Predators with just 17 skaters. However, they something unexpected happened.

The 24-year-old was meant to return to Bakersfield once the injury situation resolved itself. Instead though, he's stuck around with the Oilers ever since.

In fairness to Hamblin, maybe it shouldn't be such a surprise he's still in Edmonton, as he's a solid two-way player with an excellent work ethic. He has a sound hockey IQ, is versatile, and useful on the penalty kill.

As a result, the undrafted free agent signing has established himself as the Oilers' fourth-line centre. Despite talk of the front office wanting to adding a veteran centre prior to the trade deadline, he has an excellent chance of sticking around for the remainder of the season.

As much as Hamblin's focus has been on defence, he has still provided some offence, with three points in 21 games. This includes one of the top highlights of the season for the Oilers, and not just on a hockey level.

The Edmonton native scored his first career NHL goal for the Oilers, in a 6-4 loss to the Lightning. This was followed by tapping his heart three times, pointed to the skies and saying something, before celebrating with his teammates.

It turns out Hamblin had the celebration planned after his mum passed away from cancer back in 2017; the goal was understandably an emotional and special moment for the young man. If there's anyone who deserves to succeed with the Oilers it's him, and so far this season he is more than making his mum and everyone associated with the team proud of him.