Dom Lunardo | April 10th, 2020
The Oil City/City of Champions has seen its fair share of talent over the past 41 years. We’re all familiar with the all-time greats such as Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, and several others. The Oilers also own the luxury of having none other than both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl donning the blue, white, and orange of Edmonton. As a tandem, McDavid, and Draisaitl can do it all and have become the most lethal 1-2 punch in the National Hockey League by a country mile. Both 29 and 97 represents everything positive in the city of Edmonton and their strong play has ignited a fan-base that was rather dormant for long, long stretches over the past decade
The current edition of the Oilers under first-year head coach Dave Tippett has had a very successful season. Before the stoppage in play due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oilers sat in second place in the Pacific Division and were gearing up for a run at Lord Stanley’s mug. Under Tippett, the focus has shifted to being more defensively sound, limiting chances, and capitalizing with the unique combination of speed, skill, and grit. As we further dissect their roster, the focus shifts to their prospect pool, and who exactly the Oilers have “in their system”. So who exactly are these “up and comers” in the Oilers organization, and what effect can we expect them to have at the National Hockey League level?
Number 3: Philip Broberg, Defenseman, Skellefteå AIK, (Swedish Hockey League)
Coming in at number three, and part 1 of the twin towers in Edmonton is Swedish-born defenseman, Philip Broberg. Oilers fans should be licking their collective chops at the thought of Broberg on their team in the next year or so. The 6’3, smooth-skating Broberg, is a naturally-gifted blue-liner with a deep, deep toolbox at his disposal. Broberg possesses a killer first pass, is strong on his skates, and his anticipation and reading of the game at both ends of the ice are an absolute treat to watch. His balance and acceleration will also place him in good stead at the NHL level, as many pro scouts have raved about the “extra gear” to his game. Like most Swedes, Broberg has a good stick and can turn defense to offense in the blink of an eye. Broberg was also a standout player for a Swedish team that finished third-place during this past year’s 2020 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. The Oilers’ first-round pick, 8th overall during last year’s NHL draft is poised for a long and storied career in Edmonton.
Number 2: Raphaël Lavoie, Center, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
Keeping with the towers of power that exist among Edmonton’s prospect pool is Chambly, Quebec native, Raphael Lavoie at number two. Currently plying his trade for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Lavoie has a well-rounded offensive game with offensive instincts and size (6’4) in abundance. A shoot-first type of player, who loves firing pucks on goal, Lavoie’s skill-set is in his hockey IQ, and his ability to read and analyze the game at a very high level. This season split between Halifax and Chicoutimi has seen Lavoie score 38 goals and 82 points in just 55 games. Lavoie uses his incredible size and reach to full effect, and has quick hands in front of goal. The Oilers are in awe of his size and love how he can play without the puck in all 3 zones. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lavoie is kicking tires for a spot on the Oilers’ top-9 forward group as early as next season.
Number 1: Evan Bouchard, Defenseman, Bakersfield Condors (American Hockey League)
Part 2 of the twin towers in Edmonton appears in the form of Evan Bouchard, who tops the list as the Oilers top prospect. Typically, when a player plays for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, they are poised for a long and storied NHL career. Just ask Patrick Kane, Bo Horvat, Nazem Kadri, Max Domi, and Mitch Marner. There’s just something special about the hockey development program down in London, with former NHLer, Dale Hunter at the helm as the team’s co-owner, president and head coach. Evan Bouchard, the Oilers 10th overall selection in the first round at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, is quite possibly the next great to come through the ranks from London, Ontario.
Standing at 6’3, 195 pounds, Bouchard is an all-around joy to watch with an extremely bright future on the Oilers blue-line. His poise,m speed in transition, and smooth skating ability is a coach’s dream. He also has superior offensive ability and loves to jump up in the play. Imagine a powerplay unit with McDavid, Draisaitl, Kailer Yamamoto, and Bouchard pulling the strings from the blue-line? Slated to turn 21 years of age next October, the Oilers management group is thrilled with his ability to play a well-rounded, consistent game, with a high work rate. Bouchard is primed for the NHL and should be in serious contention for a spot in the Pilers top-6 in 2020-21.
Honorable Mentions: LW Tyler Benson, C Ryan McLeod
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images