Oilers’ 2021 Draft Class Season Update

December hasn’t even arrived yet, but it’s hard for Oil Country not to be brimming with excitement about the Edmonton Oilers’ 2021 draft class based on the first several weeks of the new hockey season.

If they checked the stats Monday (Nov. 22) morning, fans would find that the co-leading goal scorer in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and one of the second leading goal scorers in the Ontario Hockey League were both drafted by the Oilers just a few months ago.

Xavier Bourgault Shawinigan Cataractes
Xavier Bourgault, Shawinigan Cataractes (Jean Levasseur)

Edmonton’s first-round draft pick, Xavier Bourgault of the Shawinigan Cataractes, is in a tie for first place in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with 16 goals, and Oilers’ sixth-round selection, Matvey Petrov of the North Bay Battalion, sits tied for No. 2 in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with 15 goals.

No other NHL team can claim two prospects producing at such a level, let alone two from the same draft year. For context, there are just three players with more goals than Petrov in the entire Canadian Hockey League (which includes 60 teams comprising the OHL, QMJHL, and Western Hockey League). One of them is Bourgault, who has more goals than all but one player (Anaheim Ducks’ 2021 draft pick Sasha Pastujov, who has 18 goals with the Guelph Storm in the OHL).

Bourgault is Lighting Up the QMJHL

Bourgault, who Edmonton drafted 22nd overall, is tied for fourth in the QMJHL points race, with 31 through 18 games. He is also first in the QMJHL in both goals (9) and points (15) on the power play and tied for the lead with four game-winning goals.

The 19-year-old center has five multi-goal games, including one hat trick and five games of at least three points. He was named to the CHL Team of the Week for Oct. 25 – 31 after recording three goals and seven assists in three games.

Related Link: 5 Things to Know About Oilers’ First-Round Pick Xavier Bourgault

Year over year, Bourgault continues to show tremendous progress. He averaged 0.32 points per game in his first QMJHL season in 2018-19, jumped to 1.13 in 2019-20, then averaged 1.38 last season, and is now up to 1.72 through his first 16 appearances of 2021-22. The versatile forward is a leading candidate for a spot on Canada’s roster at the upcoming 2022 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship during the holiday season.

Petrov Might Be the Sleeper Pick of 2021

The 180th selection of the draft, Petrov has scored more goals this season than all but a very few of the draftees that were chosen before him, regardless of what league they are playing in. He burst out of the gate with three goals and an assist in his very first OHL game, Oct. 7 against the Peterborough Petes, and hasn’t let up. This past weekend the winger led Niagra to a pair of victories to maintain their spot atop the OHL Central Division, registering a goal and an assist against the Oshawa Generals on Friday (Nov. 19), followed by two goals and a helper against the Niagara IceDogs 7-3 on Sunday (Nov. 21).

Matvei Petrov North Bay Battalion
Matvei Petrov, North Bay Battalion (Tom Martineau / North Bay Battalion)

In 19 games, Petrov has 27 points, which is tied for seventh in the OHL, and his plus-minus of plus-14 is the fifth-best rating in the league. He’s scored two hat tricks and notched eight multi-point games.

Petrov has made such an impression that he became the first 2021 draft pick to be signed by the Oilers to an entry-level contract. The 19-year-old Moscow product has gone from being a longshot to a “how could he not get a shot?” when it comes to playing for Team Russia at World Juniors 2022.

Catching Up With the Rest of the Picks

There’s almost no one keeping pace with Bourgault and Petrov, which puts Edmonton’s other four 2021 draft picks in the majority. Rather than measuring their output against two of junior hockey’s top scorers, it’s fairer to evaluate these prospects relative to their draft slot.

The 90th overall pick, German defenceman Luca Munzenberger, is going through growing pains in his first season outside of Europe and his freshman year of NCAA hockey. He has two assists and a minus-five rating in 10 games for the University of Vermont men’s hockey team, which is last in the Hockey East standings. Munzenberger, who turns 19 on Wednesday (Nov. 24), is also likely to represent his country at World Juniors.

Jake Chiasson, whom Edmonton drafted 116th overall, has yet to play this season for the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings and is sidelined indefinitely as the right-wing recovers from an upper-body injury suffered during Oilers rookie camp in September.

The 186th overall pick, Shane LaChance, is playing his first season in the United States Hockey League, the top junior league sanctioned by USA Hockey, and has three points in 16 games for the Youngstown Phantoms.

Edmonton’s final selection of 2021, 212th overall pick Maximus Wanner, has provided a presence on the Moose Jaw Warriors blueline, with four assists and 11 penalty minutes through 18 games in the WHL season.

Edmonton’s 2021 draft class continues a trend of promising prospects throughout the Oilers’ system. Hopes are high for the 2020 draft class, which includes forwards Dylan Holloway, Carter Savoie, and Ty Tullio, while Edmonton’s top selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, defenseman Philip Broberg, made his NHL debut for the Oilers against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday (Nov. 20) and picked up an assist. In Edmonton, the future, both immediate and longer-term, looks bright.

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