Five years may seem like a ways away, but lots can change for better or for worse with a team or organization. The Edmonton Oilers hope to still be at the top throughout that time. Injuries, bad trades, bad signings, and young players not playing to expectations can all be major factors. The Oilers have been fortunate in recent years as some of their prospects have come in and helped the team greatly, including Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod, and Evan Bouchard.
They aren’t considered prospects anymore, but with space and opportunity next season and beyond, the Oilers must continue to draft and develop players who will be able to provide the team with continued success each and every year, starting with the players below.
Philip Broberg looks to follow in the footsteps of Bouchard in that he has had little experience in the NHL already and looks to be starting off on the third pairing. Bouchard made quick strides and moved up the lineup, and there’s opportunity too for the Oilers’ top-10 pick one season after Bouchard to do the same.
Brett Kulak is signed to a fair deal ($2.75 million average annual value (AAV)) to play on the second pairing right now, and by the end of his deal be taken over by Broberg. I don’t envision the young defender taking over top spot on the left side in front of Darnell Nurse anytime soon since Nurse is experienced, developed, impactful at both ends of the ice, able to play at key times, is able to contribute in all situations, and is typically tasked with shutting down opponents’ top players.
Broberg showed a lot of offensive talent in his rookie season in the American Hockey League (AHL). He never went more than two games in a row last season in the AHL without recording a point. His development has gone very well since coming over to North America and he is proving why the Oilers were right to draft him so high at a position of need. He still projects to be a top-three defenceman for the Oilers and should already be realistically pushing for a spot in the top-four by next season with his great size and speed. Offence will come as he grows more accustomed to the NHL. He is a huge piece moving forward as the organization has invested their more recent high draft picks into forwards.
Stuart Skinner is finally getting his chance to be a part of the Oilers in a full-time role next season. It comes at a perfect time since he’s had more than enough time to develop and gain confidence with huge success in the AHL and success in his 14 games with the Oilers in his career. He will also be eased into it with Edmonton getting their guy in free agency in Jack Campbell for the next five years.
Campbell is no guarantee and if things go according to plan, the Oilers will have Skinner challenging for the starting position in a few year’s time. As of right now, Skinner is the Oilers’ best prospect as Oliver Rodrigue has struggled in the minors, splitting time between the AHL and ECHL, and Ryan Fanti is relatively unknown as of right now. It is very hard to draft a goaltender that should turn into the future starter down the line as even five years may not be enough time. There is also very little opportunity to draft goaltenders who are almost sure things, though the Oilers did have their shot in 2020 with Jesper Wallstedt.
It costs a lot less and is much easier to have a goaltender develop in the system and become a starter since the team has control over the development and can keep a close eye on him. I could be proven wrong with either of the goaltending prospects the Oilers have in the minors as time passes, but for right now, Skinner is the Oilers’ best shot at providing the team with a solid backup option and being the potential starter down the line.
Dylan Holloway, like the other two players mentioned before him, should have an impact much sooner than later. He got into the final game of the Oilers’ playoff run last season and will be looking to make the team out of training camp this season. Last season he suffered an unfortunate injury at the wrong time that caused him to miss his chance and spend half a season in the AHL where he impressed before getting the call.
He has great speed and stick-handling ability while also being physical when he needs to be. Western Canada Scout Jameson Ewasiuk has drawn comparisons between Holloway and Zach Hyman, as they both work very hard and have impressive speed. Holloway projects to be in the top nine of Edmonton as soon as next season and should continue to work his way up the depth chart and be impactful. In a few seasons, he should have a firm hold on a top-six spot on the wing and be able to utilize his speed very well beside either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.
I could have named a few of the key Oilers’ forward prospects set to join the Bakersfield Condors next season, but decided to go with Carter Savoie over Xavier Bourgault or Tyler Tullio due to Savoie’s stellar ability to score goals. I expect Savoie to spend at least two seasons in the AHL developing at the pro level after college and then get his full-time shot with the Oilers.
By that time, Evander Kane will be a couple years into his deal while also being a couple years from his contract with the Oilers being over. McDavid and his wingers thrive the most when he has players that can shoot the puck and finish plays. Kane can do so right now, but possibly the best option of the prospects the Oilers have is Savoie. He is described as having good speed and a wicked shot and scored 23 goals in 39 games last season at the University of Denver. Developing a pure goalscorer and seeing him contribute to the Oilers in a few years will help them a lot.
The Oilers have a good young batch of prospects coming, and hopefully more than just the names I mentioned will be able to play key roles for the team down the line. Ken Holland has put the team in great hands by drafting very well and not rushing anyone to the NHL as was the trend of the past decade with the Oilers.
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 NHL Stats News, trade talks, and daily betting guides.
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