4 goals and 6 assists for 10 points in 52 games. 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points in 59 games played. 27 goals and 28 assists for 55 points in 66 games played. 39 goals and 41 assists for 80 points in 66 games played.
The following stats were from Spokane Chiefs forward Mitch Holmberg’s first four seasons in the WHL. As you can see, every year Holmberg has improved in each offensive category yet why has he been passed over in the last two NHL drafts? After having an impressive 80 point season last year, one would think an NHL team would take a chance on the Sherwood Park, Alberta native. He’s also a proven playoff performer scoring 20 goals over the last three playoff seasons for Spokane.
Holmberg must not be discouraged by the lack of NHL attention because he’s filling up stat sheets at will this season with the Chiefs. In what is his final season of junior hockey, Holmberg leads the WHL in scoring with 26 goals, 31 assists for 57 points in 24 games played. He has a comfortable nine point lead on second place Nic Petan (WPG, 43rd overall. ’13) of Portland. His 26 goals are tops in the WHL and has recorded a point in all but two games this season.
Holmberg grew up playing for Sherwood Park Kings AAA Midget Program where his scoring ability was first noticed. He registered 21 goals and 20 assists for 41 points in 31 games played. Spokane selected him 21st overall in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft.
Holmberg is a shifty, speedy right winger who is listed at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds. What he lacks in size, he makes up for on the ice. He won WHL Player of the Month honors for September/October and was named WHL Player of the Week from Nov. 3-10. Holmberg had nine points on five goals and four assists in three games played. He was also named CHL Player of the Week from Sept. 23-29 after scoring five goals and five assists in three games played.
Playing with Mike Aviani is huge reason why Holmberg is off to such a incredible start. Both players feed off of each other and dominate on the ice. The chemistry they have is remarkable to watch. The biggest concern with Holmberg are his size and strength going forward. He must bulk up to play at the pro level. I’ve seen him get out-muscled off the puck especially last year in the Subway Super Series.
Overall, I think an NHL squad will take a look at the overager at season’s end but the University of Alberta Golden Bears, who love WHL overage kids, the AHL on a PTO or Europe are viable options too. Holmberg is currently producing at 2.5 points per game and if he somehow continues this pace he’ll wind up with 82 goals, 98 assists, for 180 points, which better get the attention of NHL teams.
Holmberg’s current season is reminiscent Phoenix Coyotes prospect and current Portland Pirate Brendan Shinnimin’s final junior season. With the Tri-City Americans in 2011-12, Shinnimin had 58 goals, 76 assists for 134 points in 69 games played, which was about 1.94 points per game. He not only led the WHL in scoring, but was the leading scorer in the entire CHL. On March 2, 2012, the Coyotes signed Shinnimin as a free agent to a three-year entry-level deal. Both Holmberg and Shinnimin have a similar stature and skill-set.
I’ll be intrigued to see if Holmberg can continue to produce. Anything short of injury, I believe Holmberg could win the Bob Clarke Trophy as the WHL’s top scorer. He could possibly win the Four Broncos Trophy as the league’s best player if he can lead Spokane on a deep playoff run.
All in all, Holmberg’s story is a good one for overage players who have been past over. A little hard work and determination can go a long way into making a dream of playing in the NHL a reality.
I’m rooting for Mitch Holmberg.