The Edmonton Oilers could finally be turning a corner. In the early 2010s, they had prospects with lots of potential who didn’t pan out. That has changed over the last five or so seasons, as the organization has done a fairly good job of drafting well and letting their prospects develop properly, rather than rushing them into the NHL.
Hiring general manager Ken Holland during the last offseason was great, as he is notorious for being patient with his prospects, often giving them more time to develop than they actually need. This is good news for the Oilers who boast many high-end prospects in their system.
Of course, Oilers fans don’t need to be reminded that no player is untradeable, given that their team traded the best player ever while he was still in his prime. What untouchable means, in this case, is that any team trading for one of the players listed below would have to give up so much that it wouldn’t be worth it. Here are the Oilers’ most untouchable prospects.
Despite playing in 53 career NHL games, Kailer Yamamoto still fits into the “prospects” list given that he spent the first half of the 2019-20 season in the AHL. He is a perfect example of what happens when a team is patient with a developing player. After he was drafted 22nd overall at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, he nearly made the Oilers roster the following season and played the maximum nine-game tryout without burning a year of his entry-level contract. Thankfully, management decided he was not ready and sent him back to the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL for the rest of the season.
The following 2018-19 season also saw him spend time in the NHL, appearing in 17 games. Still, it was clear he was not ready as he managed just two points. Management agreed, again, and he spent the majority of that season in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors. He also began the 2019-20 season with the Condors but was called up near the end of December. This time, he not only proved he was ready to play in the NHL but he excelled, with an unexpected 26 points in 27 games.
His great season has put him at the top of this list, as the undersized forward now appears to be a late first-round steal. While we don’t know if he can continue at a point-per-game pace throughout a full NHL season, he has penciled his name into a top-six role and is as untouchable as you can get, especially given the team’s lack of scoring wingers.
The Oilers have lacked a true offensive threat from the backend for a while. They addressed that in free agency signing Tyson Barrie to a one-year deal, and they have another in the pipeline in Evan Bouchard. The 6-foot-3 defenceman was coming off of an 87-point season with the London Knights in the OHL at the time he was selected 10th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and he has impressed ever since.
Similar to Yamamoto, Bouchard looked like he may crack the Oilers roster just months after being drafted, appearing in seven regular-season games. Thankfully, management decided against rushing him and returned him to the Knights where he put up 53 points in 45 games. He was also a member of Team Canada at the 2019 World Junior Championships, and although the team struggled, he had a decent showing with three assists in five games.
The recently turned 21-year-old spent the 2019-20 season in the AHL, posting 36 points in 54 games with the Condors, which ranked third in team scoring. His strong play was rewarded with an All-Star Game nod alongside fellow Oilers prospect Tyler Benson. Bouchard is playing in Sweden until the 2020-21 season gets underway on this side of the pond. Given that the Oilers signed Barrie, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the youngster get one more season in the AHL. Regardless, he is their best blue line prospect and won’t be moved anytime soon.
The most recently drafted player on this list is University of Wisconsin forward Dylan Holloway. The Oilers selected the 19-year-old with the 14th pick at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, roughly seven months after his college freshman season ended and where he racked up eight goals and nine assists in 35 games. While those totals don’t jump off the page, he was very young for a college player and had limited opportunities on special teams given that Wisconsin had top-end forwards like Cole Caufield and Alex Turcotte on their roster.
Holloway grew up in an Alberta hamlet called Bragg Creek, near Calgary. He spent his junior hockey career very close to home, playing two seasons in the AJHL for the Okotoks Oilers. In a combined 81 games over those two seasons, he managed 51 goals and 115 points. In his second season, he put up 88 points which ranked second in the league, trailing only William Lemay of the Brooks Bandits by two points despite playing in five fewer games.
Holloway and his Badger teammates have recently begun their 2020-21 season, and early signs indicate a big year for the sophomore forward who has scored two goals in his first two games. Oilers fans may get a chance to watch him represent Team Canada at the 2021 World Juniors as he was invited to their camp and should crack the roster. He is likely a few years away from making an impact at the NHL level but he is a huge part of the Oilers’ future.
The second defenceman and final prospect on this list is Philip Broberg. The Swedish blueliner was another high draft pick, selected 8th overall at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He, like Holloway, is still a few years away from making an impact in the NHL but he has progressed nicely since the draft.
The 19-year-old is now in his second season with Skelleftea AIK in the SHL and is well on his way to posting new career-highs with one goal and five points in 17 games. Compared to last season, where he managed just eight points, his offensive game is improving. He is playing in one of the top professional leagues in the world, which, considering he still has this season and one more of junior hockey, given his age, proves just how talented he is.
Another reason to forgive his modest point totals is by looking at another Swedish defenceman: Erik Karlsson. A year after he was drafted in the first round by the Ottawa Senators, Karlsson also played in the SHL with 10 points in 45 games. I am not suggesting that Broberg will be a superstar like Karlsson, but the comparison shows that Broberg is playing very well for his age. Many who doubted this pick on draft day may soon realize just how wrong they were.
On the Rise
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the future looks bright in Edmonton. Yes, Oilers fans have that heard for over a decade now and it likely means nothing given that the team has consistently finished near the bottom of the league standings. However, this past season showed that the team’s roster, led by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, is good enough to compete in the playoffs.
The roster still has its fair share of flaws, but the Oilers have a very competent general manager who has already made significant transactions to help improve the roster. That, along with the prospects listed above, bodes well for the future of the organization.
Former Jr. A player turned blogger. At-large writer covering mainly the Calgary Flames. Co-host of Flames Faceoff and Oilers Overtime podcasts.