Edmonton Oilers’ Top 5 Prospects for 2023

All five of the Edmonton Oilers’ top prospects are forwards, which speaks to their depth up front. But it also says a lot about the other areas of their system; they traded away Dmitri Samorukov for Klim Kostin, which has turned out great but depleted their prospects on defence.

Dylan Holloway, Philip Broberg, Markus Niemelainen, and Stuart Skinner can’t be considered prospects anymore since they are now officially rookies in the NHL and have all played at least 30 NHL games. That moves the needle to the next batch of talent: a couple have graduated, one is still dominating, and one is representing Canada at the 2023 World Juniors.

5. Tyler Tullio

Tyler Tullio is one of three of the Oilers’ top forward prospects to make the jump to pro. He was playing in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) last season for the Oshawa Generals before he joined the Bakersfield Condors. A former fifth-round pick, it will take him a few seasons before he gets a real shot in the NHL. There will likely be a couple of players on this list ahead of him unless he starts really to pick up his scoring this season.

Tyler Tullio Oshawa Generals
Tyler Tullio of the Oshawa Generals (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Tullio came to the American Hockey League (AHL) after scoring 42 goals and 86 points in 62 games, followed by two goals and seven points in six playoff games. His regular season was very impressive and exactly what the Oilers wanted to see from their 2020 late-round pick. He has four goals and eight points in 24 AHL games this season but will continue to develop and move up the lineup. He does need to work on his discipline and stay out of the box more. However, he has been much better since turning pro.

4. Carter Savoie

Carter Savoie only has four goals and seven points in 22 games since turning pro, so it has been as difficult for him to produce offensively as for Tullio. Savoie played two seasons at the University of Denver, where he lit it up, scoring 23 goals and 45 points in 39 games, before joining the AHL, where he played two games at the end of last season.

He was taken one round before Tullio in the 2020 Draft, but different paths have brought them to the same spot. Having a few talented young players all develop together in the AHL for a few seasons before making an impact in the NHL should work in the Oilers’ favour. The last group to do that was Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod, and Tyler Benson. Savoie has the shot, which leads to goals, and the size to prove that he was another mid-to-late-round gem grabbed by the organization.

3. Matvei Petrov

Matvei Petrov has become the Oilers’ biggest steal in a draft in a long time (John Marino, 2015, sixth round). He was drafted in the sixth round in 2021 and scored 40 goals and 90 points in 63 games as a rookie in the OHL last season.

Matvei Petrov North Bay Battalion
Matvei Petrov, North Bay Battalion (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

He has an excellent shot and skating ability, with size to go along with it. He is ahead of schedule in his development and is up to 12 goals and 46 points in 34 games this season in the OHL once again. Among this group of forward prospects with goal-scoring ability, at least one of them has to turn out to be impactful, and Petrov has all the tools to do so.

2. Reid Schaefer

Representing Canada at the World Juniors is no small feat, and Reid Schaefer made the team. Many very talented players have played for Team Canada, including the Oilers’ Xavier Bourgault and Holloway. It is a very difficult team to make, and despite recording just one assist through the round-robin, this is a great experience for him.

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Schaefer hasn’t exactly been lighting it up in the Western Hockey League, but his numbers are still respectable. He has 15 goals and 27 points in 22 games for the Seattle Thunderbirds and will be a force when he grows into his body. He is already 6-foot-3, 213 pounds at age 19 and knows his role. He told TSN that, “Looking at the team, I’m a guy that can be a role player, play that bottom-six role in the lineup, bring energy and use my frame to my advantage.”

He had a major step-up in performance from 2021-22 to last season and showed he can score. If he can turn into a goal-scoring power forward down the line, the Oilers should be happy.

1. Xavier Bourgault

As mentioned above, Bourgault made the 2022 World Junior team before it was cancelled and rescheduled due to COVID. He decided not to play in the rescheduled tournament and instead is enjoying success in his first professional season in the AHL. After 36 goals and 75 points in 43 regular season games and 12 goals and 22 points in the playoffs, he helped lead the Shawinigan Cataracts to their first Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) championship.

Xavier Bourgault Shawinigan Cataractes
Xavier Bourgault of the Shawinigan Cataractes (Jean Levasseur)

Of the three AHL rookies that made the jump and turned pro, Bourgault has been the most impressive. That’s understandable, as he is a former first-round pick. He has now played 29 games and has eight goals and 15 points. That won’t get him called up to the NHL this season, but he is one of the top scorers on the Condors and is gaining early confidence at the pro level.

Holland has been great at drafting, and it has allowed the Oilers to stock up on forwards – their talent is one of the most impressive in the league. Expect every one of these players to have at least played a game in the NHL by 2024-25 and keep the Stanley Cup window wide open for many years.

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