November 30: Since Kemp would have a hard time making the NHL roster, the Oilers have found him playing time overseas. The team announced today that Kemp will play the 2020-21 season with Vasby IK of the Swedish second league.
November 25: The Edmonton Oilers have inked one of their draft picks, signing Philip Kemp to a three-year entry-level contract. Kemp has played the last three seasons at Yale University but with the Ivy League schools suspending their hockey programs for the year, he has decided to turn pro and forego his senior season.
Now 21, Kemp was a seventh-round pick in 2017, taken almost at the very end of the draft as a lottery ticket for the Oilers. He had captained the U.S. National U18 team but had very little offensive upside and needed to work on his skating stride. Even then, Kemp was committed to Yale where he was expected to play all four years, and he had earned himself the captain’s “C” for 2020-21.
Unfortunately for the young defenseman, he won’t get to play his senior season. Instead, Kemp starts his professional career with the Oilers and is likely headed for the AHL should it ever get underway. If he’s ever to make it to the NHL, it won’t be on the back of his raw talent. Though he does have size, standing 6’3″, Kemp’s future will be based on his work ethic, leadership, and determination, as it always has.
That’s not to say he can’t be a contributor for the Oilers. When he was drafted, Brian Lawton of NHL Network compared him to Ben Lovejoy, who carved out a 544-game NHL career despite going undrafted entirely. If Kemp can reach that level of success, everyone involved will be pleased.