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FUTURE WATCH: Dillon Simpson

by Ashley Docking / Edmonton Oilers

  Barons Player StatsAHL StandingsBarons Schedule | More Prospect Stats

Picture this: you’re 15-years-old and have scouts calling to sell you on their program just before the WHL draft and your dad tells them, “Don’t waste an early draft pick on him.”

It’s a scenario that seems highly unlikely when it’s your dream to play in the NHL. This however was reality for Dillon Simpson, now a defenceman for the Oklahoma City Barons.

“I was telling them the same thing, ‘Don’t pick me, I’m going to go to college,'" Simpson said. "It was tough at a young age, but for me it was the right decision and I have no regrets looking back.”

The Simpson family has many decorated individuals who have reached the tops of their respective fields so, when the choice to attend the University of North Dakota was made, the expectations were that Simpson would hit the books just as hard as he would the ice. Being great at two things at once, doesn’t come easy.

Photo by Getty Images.

“You start off with class at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. through until just after noon. You get a bite to eat really quickly and then practice was at 2:45 p.m. Most of the time, we’d have a practice and then a workout so we weren’t leaving the rink until 6-6:30 p.m. sometimes even seven. Then you have to go home, make dinner and get your homework done. You go to bed, wake up and do it all over again."

That schedule, which he sustained for four years, would be overwhelming for even the most seasoned multitasker. But it's even more daunting for a 17-year-old, leaving home for the first time.  Simpson’s key to getting through the long days is not surprising but the execution is impressive.

“Time management," he confessed. "When you’re in a setting like that where you have a lot of responsibilities you have to manage your time well and get things done on time.”

Excuse the pop culture reference, but he "got 'er done," and then some.

We’ve all heard the phrase “bird course," something you’ll just soar through. Well, Simpson wasn’t interested in taking the easy way out.  

“When I decided to go to school rather than the major junior route, I wanted the degree in my back pocket as well as play at a great program. If I was going there, I wanted to do well and get something worthwhile out of it.”

He took the "student" portion of the student-athlete title just as seriously as he did his hockey career, maintaining an A average on route to graduating with a degree in Managerial Finance from UND.

Photo provided by UND Athletics.

As a standalone accomplishment, it’s impressive. However, Simpson wasn’t done just yet. He was named to the Athletics Director’s Honour Role, was a two-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete, earned NCHC All-Academic Honors and received UND’s Archie Krum Memorial Athletic Award (given to the player who demonstrates leadership qualities, high academic standards and athletic excellence) and that’s not even the hockey side.

In four years at UND, Simpson made waves by being named the youngest captain since Greg Johnson (who played 785 career NHL games). He was the 10th youngest captain in program history, and he received All-CHN and All-NCHC First Team Honors. Simpson scored 75 points and, in his final NCAA campaign, led the nation with 109 blocked shots.  

Things were good for Simpson but got even better when his hometown team, the Oilers, drafted him 92nd overall in 2011.

“It was huge," Simpson said. "It was something in the back of my mind that I wanted to get excited about and was hoping for. To grow up as a huge fan of the team, it’s something I’ve wanted since a young age.”

Simpson’s father Craig won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers in 1988 and 1990. The elder Simpson’s career was cut short due to injury, and he was a main driver behind his son gaining an education as an ace in the hole should he ever need it.  

Attending school wasn’t just plan-B for the Oilers prospect, who scored his first professional goal against the Texas Stars on October 25tt. It was a chance to come in to his own.

“I think it (NCAA) fit where I was at a hockey standpoint at that age and looking back, those four years it paid off. There’s a lot more time to develop your skills and, for me, develop off the ice as well.”

Joining the AHL for his first season, the "rookie" is anything but, thanks to the environment in which he was raised. Instead of a sense of entitlement, Simpson is simply disillusioned.

“You get an idea of what it’s all about at a young age, what it takes and what kind of dedication you need to have to play at this (the professional) level.”

By most accounts, the NCAA is the path less traveled to gain access to the elite and exclusive professional hockey ranks. Simpson made the decision anyway, put his head down and never looked back.


  Barons Player StatsAHL StandingsBarons Schedule | Past Prospect Stats: 13-14 | 12-13 | 11-12
Stats Updated as of Wednesday, October 29, 2014 | * - Player on AHL contract with Oklahoma City Barons

Oklahoma City (AHL)


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
KEITH AULIE D 25 5 0 1 1 -5 0
BRANDON DAVIDSON D 23 - - - - - -
TRAVIS EWANYK F 21 4 0 0 0 -2 7
MATT FORD* F 30 4 1 1 2 -2 2
MARTIN GERNAT d 21 5 0 2 2 +3 2
CURTIS HAMILTON
F 22 4 1 0 1 0 4
RYAN HAMILTON
F 29 4 1 3 4 +2 0
KALE KESSY
F 30 5 1 0 1 -6 11
JUJHAR KHAIRA
F 20 4 0 1 1 -2 4
OSCAR KLEFBOM   d 21 4 1 4 5 +4 0
ANTON LANDER
F 23 5 1 2 3 -1 4
C.J. LUDWIG* D 24 2 0 0 0 -2 4
MARTIN MARINCIN
D 22 1 0 1 1 0 0
ANDREW MILLER F 26 4 1 4 5 -1 0
MITCH MOROZ F 20 4 0 0 0 -2 2
DAVID MUSIL D 21 3 0 0 0 -5 2
JORDAN OESTERLE  D 22 5 1 1 2 -1 0
IIRO PAKARINEN F 23 5 4 1 5 +2 0
STEVE PINIZZOTTO
F 30 3 0 3 3 0 19
TYLER PITLICK
F 22 5 1 5 6 +1 4
DILLON SIMPSON
d 21 5 1 0 1 -2 0
JASON WILLIAMS*
F 34 4 4 2 6 0 8
BOGDAN YAKIMOV
F 20 5 1 1 2 -3 2
Bakersfield (ECHL)
Name POS age    GP G A P +/- PIM
graeme craig* D 21 7 2 2 4 0 6
mitch holmberg* F 21 5 0 1 1 -2 0
connor jones* F 24 7 2 4 6 +3 6
Kellen jones* F 24 7 0 5 5 +4 0
josh winquist* F 21 4 3 4 7 -1 0
Canadian Hockey League
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
BEN BETKER   d 20 11 1 3 4 +5 8 EVERETT (WHL)
JACKSON HOUCK
f 19 12 5 8 13 0 6 VANCOUVER (WHL)
DARNELL NURSE D 19 3 1 3 4 +1 4 SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)
KYLE PLATZER F 19 14 6 13 19 +9 6 OWEN SOUND (OHL)
MARCO ROY
F 19 12 4 6 10 +2 8 QUEBEC (qmjHL)
NCAA, Junior A & USHL
Name POS age  GP G A P +/- PIM team
EVAN CAMPBELL   f 21 5 2 4 6 -2 8 UMASS-LOWELL (NCAA)
LIAM COUGHLIN
F 20 13 4 4 8 0 8 VERNON (BCHL)
WILLIAM LAGESSON
d 18 8 0 5 5 +2 20 DUBUQUE (USHL)
JOEY LALEGGIA  d 22 4 1 0 1 N/A 15 DENVER (NCAA)
JOHN MCCARRON   f 22 - - - - - - CORNELL (NCAA)
AIDAN MUIR   F 19 2 0 2 2 +1 0 WESTERN MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TYLER VESEL F 20 4 0 0 0 N/A 0 NEBRASKA-OMAHA (NCAA)
Europe
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
ROMAN HORAK
f 23 20 10 6 16 +4 14 VITYAZ (KHL)
PHILIP LARSEN
f 24 21 1 6 7 -8 18 YUGRA (KHL)
ANTON SLEPYSHEV
f 20 22 3 4 7 -2 6 UFA (KHL)
ANTTI TYRVAINEN
F 25 13 4 1 5 - 6 TAMPERE (FINLAND)
DANIIL ZHARKOV
F 21 6 0 0 0 +2 4 NIZHNY NOVGOROD (KHL)
2014 World Junior Hockey Championships
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
TBD - - - - - - - -   -
Goaltenders
Name age GP w l T GAA SV% team
RICHARD BACHMAN   26 1 0 0 1 2.84 .900 OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)
LAURENT BROSSOIT 21 2 0 2 0 4.07 .867 OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)
TYLER BUNZ   21 - - - - ----- --- wichita (ECHL)
ZACHARY NAGELVOORT
20 2 0 2 0 4.54 .864 MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TY RIMMER*
22 6 3 3 0 2.84 .915 BAKERSFIELD (ECHL)
Frans Tuohimaa   23 - - - - ----- --- BAKERSFIELD (ECHL)
2 2 0 0 3.85 .914 OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)
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