WHL Prospect Signs With Edmonton Oilers

A couple of hours before Thursday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, the Edmonton Oilers signed 20-year-old undrafted forward prospect James Stefan to a three-year entry-level contract. A right winger, the Laguna Beach native has played 5 seasons in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks, recording 254 points in 251 games. Of the 48 goals he scored this season, only 8 of them were on the powerplay, and 5 of them were shorthanded. Needless to say, he knows how to put pucks in the net. He attended NHL Rookie Camp with the Ottawa Senators in the midst of preseason back in September.

For Oilers fans, this is a hilarious signing. James Stefan is the son of former NHLer and the 1999 first-overall draft pick Patrik Stefan. Regarded as one of the biggest #1 pick busts in NHL history, Patrik’s less-than-stellar career is highlighted most by an empty net fumble against your Edmonton Oilers. On January 4th, 2007, the Oilers played a home game against the Dallas Stars and were down 5-4 with 20 seconds left in regulation. Edmonton coughed up the puck, and Patrik had a chance to put the game away with an empty net goal. He delayed shooting the puck and held it for too long until it hopped on a bad part of the ice. Then, the Oilers quickly went the other way, and Ales Hemsky tied the game with 2 seconds left in regulation. The Stars still won that game in the shootout, but this blooper has never stopped being Patrik’s legacy. And now his son may one day play for the team he had that experience against.

Xavier Bourgault #10 – Photo: Rick Crossman | Inside The Rink

James should get some playing time in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors. At the moment, this absolutely seems like a terrific add for the Oilers organization. But can his WHL talent translate to the pro hockey level. Edmonton’s 2021 22nd overall pick, Xavier Bourgault, has been thought of as potentially the future top RW for the Oilers but has struggled to really produce strongly in Bakersfield. Of course, players in their early 20s are still too early to tell. But here’s hoping James’ potential won’t fade away. Who else is looking forward to seeing his first empty net goal?

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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