The Edmonton Oilers have struggled to develop talent. They are in desperate need to surround Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl with quality wingers, defensemen and goaltenders.
The Oilers with nearly a year of Ken Holland running the ship has seen some notable results. One of the biggest things was the emergence of Kailer Yamamoto. Yamamoto tallied 26 points in 27 games before the NHL pause. He became the winger many expected thriving on Edmonton’s second line.
While the Oilers have had a difficult time supplying McDavid with talented teammates, they do have several prospects in their system that could help fill some holes.
2019-20 Top 10 Edmonton Oilers prospects Updated…
1. Evan Bouchard, RHD, Edmonton Oilers (NHL) & London Knights (OHL)
HT/WT: 6’3″/194 lbs
Drafted: 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft by Edmonton
Evan Bouchard is an excellent two-way defenseman. His hockey IQ is superb and he has shown that he can produce quite well/consistently in the offensive zone. Last season, Bouchard spent the bulk of his time with the London Knights. In 45 games played in London, he mustered up 16 goals and 37 assists. His offensive totals aren’t as impressive as the previous season, in which he tallied 87 points in 67 games, but he’s still an absolute beast in the offensive zone.
As I mentioned above, Bouchard’s hockey IQ is top-notch. He is always scanning the ice. Bouchard looks to ensure that his teammates aren’t off-side and always looks for the optimal pass.
The only knock on Bouchard is his skating. When you see Bouchard skating in any zone, you will notice how dull his skating is. He will go from point a to point b, but his skating holds him back. Bouchard doesn’t often utilize his inside or outside edge. There are shifts where he just seems to go in a straight line and appears to try to skate at full speed. In addition, when he’s sitting on the blue-line, he can be seen sitting tight and not moving his feet. Defensemen need to be ready for anything and everything.
2. Philip Broberg, LHD, AIK (Allsvenskan)
HT/WT: 6’3″/198 lbs
Drafted: 8th overall pick in the 2019 draft by Edmonton
Leading up to the 2019 draft, there was a debate on which Swedish defenseman would go before the other – Victor Söderström and Philip Broberg. On draft night, the Edmonton Oilers chose to go with Broberg and Söderström fell to the Arizona Coyotes at pick #11. Broberg seems to have a lot more upside than Söderström and will be a great two-way defenseman one day in the NHL.
Broberg’s skating, feet work, and speed are all top-notch. The Swede is puck hungry. He always seems to be battling for the puck. Broberg will drop to his knees, poke-check, and stick-check. In addition, each time he touches the puck, he shows off his exceptional puck-moving talent. He will go from zone-to-zone untouched and he will zig-zag thru traffic.
3. Kailer Yamamoto, RW/LW, Edmonton Oilers (NHL) & Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
HT/WT: 5’8″/154 lbs
Drafted: 22nd overall pick in the 2017 draft by Edmonton
The Spokane, Washington native has a lot of promise. He was outstanding during his junior hockey career with the Spokane Chiefs. During his time in Spokane, he showed that he had quick feet, strong skating, and an outstanding wrist shot. Given his size and skill-set, he reminds me quite a bit of Montréal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher.
Since being drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2017 draft, he has split his time between the Spokane Chiefs, Bakersfield Condors and the Edmonton Oilers. Every time that Yamamoto gets called up to the Oilers, there are high hopes. So far he hasn’t created enough production for the Oilers to keep him at the NHL level. Perhaps, a full season in Bakersfield will do the trick. The Oilers have a tendency to call up prospects for short stints and send them back down. Yamamoto might benefit from consistent playing time in Bakersfield, instead of jumping from the NHL level to the AHL level and vice-versa. Some more time in the minors could serve Yamamoto well.
4. Tyler Benson, LW, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
HT/WT: 6’0″/190 lbs
Drafted: 32nd overall pick in the 2016 draft by Edmonton
Tyler Benson is coming off of a great season in the AHL. After you watch Benson, you will notice that he makes his teammates a lot more efficient in the offensive zone. His hockey IQ and vision is top-notch. Benson is able to pin-point the optimal pass over and over again. The 21-year-old is someone who simply does not get enough credit. Most players who don’t deliver goal after goal simply do not get noticed. But, Benson has proven throughout his time in Bakersfield that he is worthy of a call-up to the NHL and can be an asset for the Oilers long-term.
5. Caleb Jones, LHD, Edmonton Oilers (NHL) & Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
HT/WT: 6’1″/205 lbs
Drafted: 117th overall pick in the 2015 draft by Edmonton
Last season, the 22-year-old defenseman split his time between the Oilers and the Condors. He was quite impressive for each club. In 50 games with the Condors, he mustered up 6 goals and 23 assists. Jones also appeared in 10 playoff games for the Condors, in which he tallied three assists.
At the NHL level, Jones appeared in 17 games for the Oilers and tallied 1 goal and 5 assists. During his 17 game stint with Edmonton, he averaged close to 20 minutes a night, recorded 18 blocks, 20 hits and posted a 48.4 Corsi-for percentage. While his Corsi-for percentage might seem a bit low, keep in mind that the Oilers were not efficient in any zone last year, so any puck possession metrics won’t be too high.
In the offensive zone, Jones loves to be in control of the offense. He’ll skate from alongside the blue-line, his feet are always moving and he tends to have a knack for finding the best teammate to capitalize when he’s in possession of the puck. In addition, Jones has a lovely wrist shot, which will come in handy on the power-play.
6. Ethan Bear, RHD, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
HT/WT: 5’11″/196 lbs
Drafted: 124th overall pick in the 2015 draft by Edmonton
The Regina, Saskatchewan native is coming off of a solid season for the Bakersfield Condors. In 52 games played, Bear posted 6 goals and 25 assists. He was also an asset during the AHL playoffs, in which he tallied 2 goals and 2 assists in 8 games played.
Bear isn’t going to wow you in terms of his skill-set, but he is effective. He has proven to be pivotal on special teams. Bear can run a successful power-play and he can provide some much need physicality on the penalty kill.
7. Raphaël Lavoie, C/RW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
HT/WT: 6’4″/196 lbs
Drafted: 38th overall pick in the 2019 draft by Edmonton
Raphaël Lavoie could have been a first-rounder in the 2019 draft, but his maturity level was holding teams back from grabbing him in round one. He fell to the Edmonton Oilers at pick #38 and if the Oilers can help Lavoie with his maturity complex, he’ll be a steal.
Lavoie’s stick-handling is outstanding and he’s got a great shot. In addition, he tends to be quite good at finding open teammates in the offensive zone and creating scoring chances.
The one draw-back that many analysts have mentioned regarding Lavoie is his speed. He needs to get faster for him to have a chance of playing in the NHL full-time.
8. Ilya Konovalov, G, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)
HT/WT: 6’0″/194 lbs
Drafted: 85th overall pick in the 2019 draft by Edmonton
Ilya Konovalov was an interesting selection at pick #85. Konovalov is a 21-year-old goaltender prospect, hailing from Yaroslavl, Russia. It’s not very often that we see 21-year-olds selected in the NHL Entry Draft, but the Edmonton Oilers felt the urge to take him after his strong campaign with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the KHL.
Last season, Konovalov appeared in 45 games with Lokomotiv. He managed to post a 1.89 Goals Against Average and a .930 Save Percentage. Konovalov’s Save Percentage was the ninth best in the KHL and his Goals Against Average was seventh best. He out-produced Calgary Flames goalie prospect Artyom Zagidulin, but he was no match to New York Rangers goalie prospect Igor Shestyorkin and New York Islanders goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin.
While he is coming off of a promising season in the KHL, his size is a concern. There aren’t many 6’0″ goaltenders that are finding success in the NHL. We are seeing a trend of taller goaltenders finding success in the NHL, as they are able to take up more space in net. For Konovalov to find success in the NHL, he will have to show that he is very agile. His reflexes will need to be in tip-top shape as he will need to go from standing up to his knees very quickly. Aside from his reflexes, one of the most impressive skills that Konovalov has is his lateral movement. Viktor Fomich mentioned Konovalov’s lateral movement in an interview with SB Nation’s All About The Jersey.
9. Olivier Rodrigue, G, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
HT/WT: 6’1″/159 lbs
Drafted: 62nd overall pick in the 2018 draft by Edmonton
Olivier’s father Sylvain Rodrigue is a goaltending coach for the Edmonton Oilers and so it was very likely that the Edmonton Oilers were going to scoop up Olivier on draft night. The Edmonton Oilers took Rodrigue with pick #62 in the 2018 draft.
Last season, he played in 48 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. He managed to tally a 2.43 Goals Against Average and a .902 Save Percentage. Given his success in Drummondville, his talent caught the attention of the Moncton Wildcats, which led to the Wildcats and the Voltigeurs brokering a deal in which Rodrigue would join Moncton for next season.
In terms of Rodrigue’s skill-set, he is very fast with his lateral movements. He has also shown that he can go from his knees to standing up pretty quickly. In addition, he has got a solid glove and can deliver outstanding pad saves. It is safe to say that there is a lot of promise with Rodrigue.
10. Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL), Saginaw Spirit (OHL) and Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
HT/WT: 6’2″/207 lbs
Drafted: 40th overall pick in the 2018 draft by Edmonton
Ryan McLeod is coming off of back-to-back 60 point plus seasons in the OHL. Last season, he split his time between the Mississauga Steelheads and the Saginaw Spirit. McLeod was dealt to the Spirit prior to the OHL Trade Deadline. The Spirit’s front office was looking to bolster their lineup and so they felt the need to add McLeod. Their roster was already loaded with talent including Cole Perfetti and Bode Wilde (New York Islanders prospect), but they managed to add Owen Tippett (Florida Panthers prospect) and McLeod in an effort to add some much needed depth for the playoff/Memorial Cup run.
McLeod is not the best skater, but he gets the job done. He tends to have solid positioning as he always finds sizable gaps. McLeod has a solid wrist shot and delivers quality pass after quality pass. But, as I mentioned, his skating needs work. His edge-work isn’t great, his speed is sub-par and he does not look comfortable on his first step.
stats from eliteprospects.com and hockey-reference.com