Though the Edmonton Oilers have struggled as of late, the future looks very bright for them. Ken Holland has built their prospect pool very nicely over the past few seasons, and they now have depth in every skater position. We will take a look at all the prospects making strides this season and a few who have already been introduced to the Oilers.
Oilers’ Prospects to Watch
The Oilers’ 2021 sixth-round pick, Matvei Petrov, has dominated the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this season. He is currently second in the league in scoring with 52 points in 31 games, only behind teammate Brandon Coe on the North Bay Battalion. He ranks third in the league in power-play points with 19 and leads the league in power-play assists.
How so many teams passed on Petrov is a mystery, but their loss is the Oilers’ gain. He looks to be a rare late-round pick that makes an impact for the Oilers, as they’ve relied solely on their first-round picks to fill their roster while management has generally missed on players in the later rounds. If the World Junior Championship would have continued this year, Team Russia would have really needed a player of Petrov’s caliber after they elected not to fill their roster with any Russians playing in North America.
Xavier Bourgault is the first of two Oilers’ prospects that made a team for the 2022 WJC. Impressively, it was Team Canada. The Oilers’ first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft was playing on the top line for Team Canada beside Shane Wright and Cole Perfetti. Before the tournament was canceled, Bourgault missed their last game against Austria due to an injury that occurred after a hit to the head (“WORLD JUNIOR NOTES: Oilers prospect Xavier Bourgault out for Team Canada”, Edmonton Sun, Dec. 28, 2021).
After being able to return to Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), he has yet to play. Before getting selected to Team Canada, Bourgault was atop the league’s leaderboards in stats and remains that way. He leads the league in power-play goals (13), is tied for the lead in power-play points (22) with teammate Oliver Nadeau, who has played six more games, tied for third in the league in goals (22), and is eighth in the league in points (42) in 24 games.
Not many people were very high on Luca Munzenberger when the Oilers drafted him, as he ranked much lower than where he was drafted. He hasn’t opened any eyes in college either, as he has just recorded two assists in 15 games for the University of Vermont.
Munzenberger was the only other Oilers prospect that was selected to represent his country at the WJC in Alberta, a place where Oilers fans would have got to get a first-hand look at the team’s third-round selection and change their minds about him.
With more time and games in the WJC, people would have seen just how impressive he was, leading the team in ice time per game and scoring a goal and an assist in two games, in one of which they upset Team Czechia. With the next game coming against Team Canada at Rogers Place, all eyes would have been on the big defenceman from Team Germany.
Tyler Tullio, another recent Oilers’ draft pick lighting up the OHL, will be able to turn pro after his season is over and join Bakersfield. Like Petrov, Tullio has been very efficient on the power play, except he is leading the league in power-play points.
Tullio is currently 10th in the league in scoring with 38 points in 26 games. He is more of an assist man, but he is on a 12-game point streak, recording three goals and 19 points in that span.
The Oilers’ fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft, Carter Savoie, looks to be developing very well in the NCAA (National Collegiate Hockey Conf. – Div. 1) for the University of Denver. Generally, players who go to college play for three to four years. At his rate, Savoie could be NHL-ready by the time he is done in Denver.
Savoie is second on his team in scoring behind Bobby Brink, a 2019 second-round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers, in two fewer games. Savoie has shown his growth, already recording more points (22) in 16 games than he did in 24 last season. He has also scored 12 goals, as he is known to have a deceptive shot. It’s a matter of if his complete game can transfer over to a higher level in the future. But for right now, he’s performing very well.
Raphael Lavoie may be following the early pro career path of Tyler Benson. Though Benson was very efficient right off the bat in the American Hockey League (AHL), it took the high second-round draft pick of the Oilers until he was 23 to make the NHL roster out of training camp.
Lavoie had a decent first pro season in the second half of 2020-21, lighting up the HockeyAllsvenskan — Sweden’s second division of hockey — while COVID delayed the start of leagues in North America. He is still a promising young prospect, and at 21 years old, he still has time to grow and develop. Not every player develops at the same rate, and Lavoie has picked up his game since his tough start to this season.
In the first 18 games of the season, Lavoie recorded just three assists. In game 19 of the season, he set a Bakersfield Condors’ record with five points (2G, 3A) and a plus-5. He is still considered a rookie in the AHL. So to quote Bob Stauffer, Lavoie is a “Big body (6-foot-5, 197 pounds) has some skill, has improved quickness. Needs some more time to “percolate” in the AHL. But the Edmonton Oilers could have a top-9 RW down the road.”
Cooper Marody could find himself with the Oilers sooner than later with how he’s progressed and how he has been very consistent in the AHL over four seasons. He has pretty much done all he can do in the minors, and the time has come to make a decision on whether to keep him with the big club or trade him. He is 25 years old, and it could bode well for the Oilers to try him out on a line with Ryan McLeod and Tyler Benson, reuniting that line from the AHL where they dominated.
Marody hasn’t had much of a look in the NHL, with only seven games played over two seasons. With a longer look and the right situation, he can be a bottom-six player in the league with potential for more. He has gotten into one game with the Oilers this season while a number of NHL-regulars were out with COVID, and with 19 points in 21 games in the AHL, he is at the top of the list if the team needs a forward callup.
Other News From Oilers’ Prospects
Dmitri Samorukov was recently reassigned to the AHL, where he will most likely stay for the remainder of the season unless there’s a ton of injuries on the back end again. Markus Niemelainen and Dylan Holloway hope to return in the near future, and I assume they will spend a bit of time in the AHL before seeing time on the Oilers to get back up to speed.
Goaltending prospect Oliver Rodrigue has struggled for Bakersfield and has since been sent down to the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL. With Ilya Konovalov currently backing up Mikko Koskinen after coming up from the Oilers’ taxi squad, Stuart Skinner looks to get all the starts in the AHL at the moment.
You can’t lose confidence in a prospect if they get demoted, and you hope that they don’t see it as a negative. As Samorukov and Rodrigue have had a tough go at it recently, that doesn’t mean we won’t eventually see them on the Oilers in the future. As for the rest of the prospects above, big things are on the horizon. You just have to give it a bit of time for them to properly develop.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with the NHL Stat Corner and trade talks from around the NHL.
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