Only Cam Hebig knows what he went through as he sat out all of the 2016-17 WHL season while trying to recover from what originally was believed to be a concussion suffered in training camp.
Recover he did, though, and now he is in the middle of a career season with the Saskatoon Blades. He leads his club in goals (28) and points (51) in 35 games.
On Thursday, Hebig, 20, got something of a reward as the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers signed him to a three-year entry-level contract.
According to capfriendly.com, Hebig’s contract calls for base salaries in the NHL of US$650,000, $650,000 and $700,000, with a salary in the minors of $70,000 each season. Each of the first two seasons carries $182,500 in performance bonuses, with $132,500 in the third season. There also are three signing bonuses of $92,500.
This season, 2017-18, covers the first year of the contract, with a junior salary of $10,500.
As the Blades started training camp in August, Hebig told Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that he really isn’t sure what had been wrong.
“I’ve had that question a lot and I don’t know how to explain it,” Hebig said. “I went to a lot of doctors and went to see a lot of people. I never did get a clear diagnosis. It was always weird symptoms.
“I worked hard at the physio that they gave me and I think that helped me. We can put that now behind me.”
Hebig added that his patience was stretched to the maximum when he wasn’t able to get on the ice last season.
“Patience is right,” he told Zary. “It was definitely a long year. I learned a lot from that. Facing that adversity helped make me stronger. I feel confident now and I’m definitely glad I can put that behind me.”
When Zary asked what he learned, Hebig replied: “Just a lot about training, the body and how I can better myself. I learned to never quit and, when things get tough, just keep pushing and things are going to turn around for you.”
There can be no doubting that Hebig, who is from Saskatoon, is the Blades’ leader. They have won six of their last seven games, during which time he has five goals and five assists.
The surge has helped the Blades get into a playoff spot for the first time this season.
In doing that StarPhoenix story, Zary asked Hebig about goals for this season.
Hebig replied: “I want to come in and have fun. It’s my last (season). I’m going to give it my all every game and just stay positive. Going out, working hard every night and trying to be consistent and, I think if I do that, things will fall into place.”
The Blades selected Hebig in the third round of the 2012 WHL bantam draft. Now, in 233 career regular-season games, he has 186 points, including 85 goals.
Oh, yes, he also has an NHL contract in his hip pocket.
On Thursday, he told Zary:
“I worked so hard for it. It’s great. It’s very exciting for me and my family. To see it pay off is definitely a great feeling and it’s pretty cool to be signed by the Oilers.”
Two other WHLers signed NHL deals on Thursday, as F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks and F Jayden Halbgewachs of the Moose Jaw Warriors got three-year entry-level deals from the San Jose Sharks.
Blichfeld’s deal was announced shortly after he and the Danish national junior team had been beaten, 4-1, by Finland at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo.
This season, Blichfeld, 19, has 13 goals and 17 assists in 26 games with Portland. In 89 career games, he has 41 goals and 47 assists.
Although he is from Denmark, he played for Malmo’s junior team in Sweden before joining the Winterhawks.
The Sharks selected Blichfeld, who is from Frederikshavn, Denmark, in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2016 draft.
Halbgewachs, who is from Emerald Park, Sask., signed as a free agent.
Halbgewachs’ contract, according to capfriendly.com, calls for NHL salaries of US$650,000, $650,000 and $700,000. The minor-league salary in each of the three seasons would be $70,000. There are performance bonuses of $182,500, $182,500 and $132,500. There also are three signing bonuses of $92,500.
As in Hebig’s case, this season, 2017-18, covers the first season of the deal, and there is a junior salary of $10,500.
This season, the 20-year-old Halbgewachs leads the CHL with 37 goals. In 37 games, he has put up 64 points.
Halbgewachs was selected by Kamloops in the first round of the WHL’s 2012 bantam draft, but never played for the Blazers. He was traded to Moose Jaw on Dec. 6, 2012, with D Tyler Bell and a first-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft for D Joel Edmundson and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft.
Last season, Halbgewachs exploded for 101 points, including 50 goals, in 71 games. In 241 career games, all with the Warriors, he has 106 goals and 109 assists.