The Edmonton Oilers know as well as the other top teams in the NHL that the draft is where you build a winning franchise. They have enjoyed a good amount of success through the draft even though, like every team, they have missed on a few picks. But sometimes teams can make it up later in the draft, and that’s exactly what we are going to look at; four players the Oilers got in later rounds that have bright futures ahead of them.
Stuart Skinner – 3rd Round (78th overall) in 2017
Stuart Skinner is the closest to graduating to the NHL, as he will be waiver eligible next season and has gotten a good taste of NHL action last season. During his 13 games with the Oilers, he played very well considering the structure of the defence and the comparison to two veteran goaltenders Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen up until that point. Skinner posted a .913 save percentage (SV%), 2.62 goals-against average (GAA) and one shutout in 12 starts with a 2.1 goals saved above average (GSAA).
He’s now 23 years old and has nothing left to do in the minors as he’s put up stellar numbers there and it is too crowded. As the Oilers look for their goaltender of the future, hopefully internally, generally goalies are steals or busts. Goaltenders taken in the first round must be sure things while netminders taken later and later turn into NHL goalies should always be considered steals.
As early as next season, Skinner should be able to provide the Oilers with 30-plus starts and under the style of coaching Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson have in place, will be able to provide the Oilers with a great backup or 1b option with upside. He is hardly tested at the NHL level and sometimes it could be difficult for players or goaltenders to transfer their game over to a higher level for a sustained period of time. But the hope is that Skinner can be the Oilers’ starter in a few years, and he’s on the right track to doing so.
Carter Savoie – 4th Round (100th overall) in 2020
Ken Holland and the Oilers got themselves two steals in the late rounds in 2020 as the first player that appears to be on the fast track to becoming an impactful player from the fourth round is Carter Savoie. He had himself a year in which he won the NCAA National Championship and finished sixth in scoring last season with 23 goals and 22 assists in 39 games.
He was only able to get into two games with the Bakersfield Condors after his season in University was over, but now that he’s turned pro, it should be too long until he is given a shot in the NHL if his progression continues. He has shown an excellent ability to score goals and should be able to provide that for the Oilers sooner rather than later.
Tyler Tullio – 5th Round (126th overall) in 2020
Tyler Tullio, taken in the round after Savoie in the 2020 Draft, will also be turning pro after his final season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) which saw him score 42 goals and 86 points in 65 games. Like Savoie, he can put the puck in the back of the net, but Tullio hasn’t gotten any pro experience yet.
With lots of space opened up in the American Hockey League (AHL) for Tullio to take on a scoring role in his rookie season, the Oilers are in good hands with how they’ve seen him develop nicely over his time in junior.
Matvey Petrov – 6th Round (180th overall) in 2021
Matvey Petrov is an interesting case since he may be making the jump to the AHL ahead of schedule depending on the decision the OHL makes on Russian players. He may very well be the biggest steal the organization has had in a long time. He was drafted first overall in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) import draft and in the sixth round to the Oilers, only to come over to the OHL and light it up in his rookie season scoring 40 goals and 90 points in 63 games.
EPRinkside.com says, “His game is entirely based around his offensive ability with a great release on his shot, plus good vision and puck-moving ability.” With the number of players the Oilers have who think and can be impactful at both ends of the ice, it may not be the worst thing to have a player who can dominate in all aspects of the offensive game. Briane Swane of The Hockey Writers mentions his stats are in line with what you’d expect of a prospect drafted in the first round.
Seeing as how Holland has been able to find these good prospects later in the draft, this year’s draft will have to follow suit as the Oilers don’t have a selection after their 29th overall pick until the fifth round.
The Oilers have a bright future ahead of them, and whether they decide to keep all of these prospects or deal any for more help now, it is a good problem to have as we will see them all in the NHL in some capacity within the next few years.