Grubbe, former Rebels teammates living life in the pros
Jayden Grubbe is lovin’ life in California.
What’s not to like regarding the weather, something new for Grubbe after spending four winters in Red Deer, three as captain of the Rebels.
“The weather is different and I’m kind of just enjoying it as we go along,” the Bakersfield Condors rookie forward told Rebels play-by-play guy Troy Gillard in a recent on-air interview.
Of course, it’s not just the warmer climes that’s making life enjoyable for Grubbe. He’s also embraced the city of Bakersfield and the fans of the Condors, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers.
“It’s been a little different. It’s a bit of a different crowd there but everyone’s been good,” he said. “It’s a good crowd, a good atmosphere. It’s a good hockey town.”
Grubbe has scored once and added one assist in 12 games with the Condors and is an impressive plus-1 player on a team that sits just below the .500 mark with a 5-6-0-2 record.
The Calgary native was selected by the New York Rangers in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft — the first pick of the third round — and his rights were traded to the Oilers on May 31 of this year. He signed a three-year entry level deal with Edmonton and assigned to the Condors in early October.
Grubbe isn’t likely to see action with the Oilers this season, but who knows? If the big club is stricken with injuries or is in need of a specific type of player, a younger, less costly player who can help them circumvent the salary cap situation, his chance of playing in the NHL could come sooner than later.
That fact that fellow Condors forward and former Medicine Hat Tiger James Hamblin was recently recalled by the Oilers has inspired Grubbe.
“Seeing him get called up early in the season is kind of something that is motivation to see,” Grubbe said. “Just play as hard as you can and you never know. You never know what can happen with so little room in the cap, they might need young guys to step in.
“I’m just taking it step by step here. I’m having a good start to the season so far and looking to keep that going. I’m just playing my game — trying to get to the net and finding loose pucks. That’s how they (goals) will have to come.”
Grubbe was a physical and offensive force for the Rebels last winter, scoring 18 goals and collecting 67 points in 64 regular season games and then adding two goals and 16 points in 12 playoff contests.
“I loved all my time playing there, I have nothing but good things to say about all the people. The city, the fans, everyone there especially my billets . . . nothing but good things to say about the team, the Sutters and everyone in the organization,” he said.
“I still keep in touch with some of the guys. It’s good to follow along and I want to see them make a run this year. We’ll see what happens.”
Grubbe was interviewed between periods of the Rebels’ recent stop in Langley, BC to take on the Vancouver Giants. Grubbe and the Condors were in the lower mainland at the time for a two-game series versus the Abbotsford Canucks and another former Rebels star, Arshdeep Bains.
Bains (pictured below) was recently recognized by The Hockey News as one of five AHL players who deserve an NHL audition this season.
The Surrey, BC native, who won the WHL scoring title in 2021-22 with 43 goals and 112 points and signed with the Canucks as a free agent late that season, has three goals and 17 points in 15 games with Abbotsford this season after putting up 38 points in his rookie pro season of 2022-23.
“He’s an all-around player. He’s one of our few players that plays both power play and penalty kill,” Abbotsford GM Ryan Johnson told the Donnie and Dhali Vancouver sports podcast. “He’s putting himself in a conversation to get an opportunity to play in the NHL.”
Added Grubbe, “Everyone around here wouldn’t be too surprised to see that. We all know how good of a player he is. It’s good to see for him.”
Three of Grubbe’s Red Deer teammates from last season — defenceman Christoffer Sedoff and forwards Ben King and Jace Isley — are also making their pro debuts this season.
Sedoff signed with the Vegas Golden Knights as a free agent in March and is currently with their AHL team, the Henderson Silver Knights. The Finnish rearguard has recorded a single assist in 13 games this season.
King, who in 2021-22 sniped a WHL best 52 goals and finished second to linemate Bains for the league scoring title, is in his first season with the AHL San Diego Gulls and has contributed three goals and eight points in 13 games.
The Gulls are the top affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, who drafted King last year. He signed a one-year deal with the Gulls in October.
Isley, meanwhile, was set to play at the U of Saskatchewan this season but instead signed a two-way, AHL/ECHL deal with the AHL Utica Comets in September. The Comets are the main affiliate of the New Jersey Devils.
The power forward has one goal and four assists in 10 games with the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL this season.
(Photos by Rob Wallator)