Since his arrival in the spring of 2019, Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland stayed away from signing undrafted NCAA free agents to NHL deals. Until this week.
The Bakersfield Condors were active in signing college kids to AHL deals, men like Yanni Kaldis (Cornell) and Devin Brosseau (Clarkson), but the first man to get an NHL deal straight out of college since 2019 is goaltender Ryan Fanti.
Oilers draft picks Vincent Desharnais (Providence), Graham McPhee (Boston College) and Filip Engaras (New Hampshire) also signed AHL deals since 2019, with Desharnais recently graduating with an NHL deal this spring.
Does Fanti’s signing indicate more college players landing in Edmonton? Let’s have a look.
The Fanti signing
Fanti’s college numbers shine, and his performance (1.83 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage) for Minnesota-Duluth was outstanding. He’s 6-foot-3, 195 pounds and described as being athletic and tracking the puck is a strength.
One way to get a sense of a college player’s value is looking at the contract. How much is the bonus? The minor-league salary? Here is Fanti compared against two recent college goalie signings by the Oilers. All numbers are from entry-level deals.
Looks like standard deals for all three, save the performance bonuses. Ellis played for a button-down and highly defensive Providence team, his graduating save percentage (.936) might have contributed to the bonuses.
It’s safe to say Fanti is a valuable addition in an area of need (Stuart Skinner will graduate to the NHL this summer;