After three years at Western Michigan University, Jordan Oesterle chose Edmonton as the next stop in his hockey career. The college free agent defenceman signed with the Oilers on March 31, 2014.
Although he played four games for the Oklahoma City Barons last season, even scoring his first professional goal and adding one playoff game under his belt as well, this year was his first full professional season. And it was a good one.
“I’m happy with the way my first year went,” said Oesterle. “I’ve got a lot of good things to build on, and going into the summer I’ve got a lot to work on to get to the next step that I want to be at.”
Making the jump from the college game to the pros was an adjustment at first. The biggest thing was the amount of time devoted to hockey now that the schoolwork is complete.
“The amount of practices. You’re not practicing as much at school, and the amount of games,” he said.
But once you get to those games, the competition is much more fierce as well.
“In the games, the strength of the players and the skill level of all the players. All the players are top-league guys and you just have to be ready every night,” the defenceman said.
Oesterle played 65 games for the Barons this season. His 25 points (8-17-25) were good for second on the team in defensive scoring behind established AHL blueliner, Brad Hunt.
His first call-up to the NHL will likely be the most memorable thing he’ll take from this season. Oesterle made his NHL debut on February 28, against St. Louis. He recorded his first NHL point with an assist against Los Angeles in his second game on March 3.
Although Oesterle says he is happy with how his first season played out, he knows his development is just beginning.
“It’s definitely been a good first year and something I’ll build on,” he said. “I won’t be satisfied with the way the season has gone. I’ve liked the progression I’ve made through the year and I’ll just take that into the summer… with confidence and do what I need to do to hopefully make the team out of camp.”
With his eyes set on competing for an Oilers roster spot, the 22-year-old Dearborn Heights, Michigan native will attempt to beef up in the off-season. Oesterle is just 6-foot-0 and 182 pounds. He possesses excellent skating ability already, but wants to ramp up his physical gains during the summer.
“Going into every summer, the biggest thing for me is to get stronger,” said Oesterle. “Being a smaller guy, I need to work on that every summer more than my on-ice stuff. I think I’m going to do a little extra this summer and try and work on all areas of my game.”