Built around the best player in the world in Connor McDavid and surrounded by a young core of Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse, the plan in Edmonton is to win now.
After a disappointing playoff defeat in round one at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets, GM Ken Holland shook things up on the roster in the off-season. With at least eight outgoing players and only four incoming regular players, the door is open for prospects to make the jump to the big club.
The Oilers have not traded first-round picks and have picked in the top ten three times in the past six years since drafting McDavid first overall in 2016. With that, they have some quality prospects and decent depth in the prospect pool albeit no real future surefire impact players.
The Oilers roster is loaded with young players and recent graduates such as Evan Bouchard and Kailer Yamamoto will ensure this team stays competitive with a strong supporting cast behind McDavid and Draisaitl.
2021-22 Top 10 Edmonton Oilers Prospects
- Dylan Holloway, C/LW – Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
Drafted: 2020 round one, 14th overall by Edmonton Oilers
The big Calgary native enjoyed a breakout season as a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin with a 35-point performance in 23 games. Holloway also cracked the Team Canada WJC roster winning the Silver Medal and posting a goal and an assist in that tournament as well.
His play was enough for the Oilers to sign him to his ELC and begin his pro career, but that plan was temporarily derailed as he required a follow-up wrist surgery in the offseason and is currently sidelined. Once healthy Holloway will make his pro debut in the AHL as GM Ken Holland is well known for not rushing prospects into the NHL until they are ready or even overripened.
In Holloway the Oilers are hoping for a big, bodied player that can play a power winger style of game. His skating is not a liability, he plays a strong physical and aggressive game. Holloway can be extremely effective in driving possession as he is impactful in puck retrievals and in the corners on the cycle. His skill level offers top-six upside as a supporting player and defensively he is dogged in puck pursuit and recovery. He is a versatile player that can also play in the middle but projects as a top-six winger.
- Philip Broberg, D – Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round one, eighth overall by Edmonton Oilers
The big Swedish defender has tremendous potential, but also some concerns. At 6-3, he skates like the wind. Broberg likes to join the rush and his acceleration often sees him leading rushes and passing by his forward teammates. With his size and mobility, he should be an impactful NHL defenseman. His offensive production at the junior level has been impressive but has been slow to develop at the pro level.
Last year his offense only marginally increased and his play and ice time in 12 playoff games suffered. Despite last season’s disappointment, he has made the move to North America and in his first 13 AHL games, he has 10 points (all assists). He was rewarded with a recall where he made his NHL debut on November 21st recording his first NHL point in a 5-2 win over Chicago.
Broberg has some work to do in the defensive side of his game and could use more development time at the pro level and on smaller North American ice. He is a work in process, but the upside and potential remain high.
- Xavier Bourgault, C – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Drafted: 2021 round one, 22nd overall by Edmonton Oilers
Bourgault is an offensive dynamo playing on a stacked line in the Q with Olivier Nadeau (BUF) and Mavrik Bourque (DAL). The trio are a force with Bourgault having 16 goals and 31 points through the first 17 games! His gawdy offensive numbers really jump out at you, and as skilled as he is offensively, he is still a project.
His slight 172-pound frame makes him vulnerable to bigger and stronger players. He needs to add bulk to his frame and be harder to knock off the puck and defend. Defensively he is inconsistent as many highly skilled 18-year-old players tend to be. Bourgault reads plays well, finds open or soft ice to support play, and gives his linemates options. While he is getting and creating plenty of scoring chances on a loaded team in Shawinigan, he will have less time and space at the pro level and will need to be stronger to see his production translate. Holland is a good talent evaluator and patient so the upside here is very promising.
- Ryan McLeod, C – Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round two, 40th overall by Edmonton Oilers
McLeod is on a very promising trajectory towards becoming a relevant NHL player. After a good OHL career playing with his older brother Michael McLeod (New Jersey Devils) with the Mississauga Steelheads, he made the jump to the pro level in the 2019-20 season posting 23 points in 56 games as a rookie. Last year after returning from a loan to the Swiss league, he had a breakout of 14 goals and 28 points in 28 games with the Condors. His play earned him his first NHL recall playing in ten regular-season games and another four playoff games.
Like his brother, Ryan’s game is based on his skating, particularly his speed and acceleration. His passing ability is NHL level, and his puck handling is also a strength. What is most impactful about his game is his ability to deploy all these skills at the same time. He can process plays, make passes, and handle the puck all at top speed, and he is a burner.
His upside may not translate to a top six, but he should have a floor of a speedy third-line player that can provide offensive support and be effective killing penalties as well. He is a versatile player trending in the right direction.
- Carter Savoie, LW – University of Denver (NCAA)
Drafted: 2020 round four, 100th overall by Edmonton Oilers
Carter Savoie is the Oilers big boom or bust prospect. Some scouts love him, some not so much. He may never break into the NHL; he could be a star.
The good. He had a monster draft year in the AJHL with 53 goals and 99 points in just 54 games. His D+1 season in NCAA was a success making the NCHC All-Rookie Team and leading his team in scoring with 13 goals in 24 games. Savoie has been on fire to start the 2021-22 season with 11 goals and 19 points in 12 games. His goal per game pace demands notice to be sure, so what’s not to like?
The flaws in his game are primarily his size, lack of speed and skating, as well as an indifference to the defensive side of the game. Many rankings are more conservative having Savoie in the 9-10 range, but I feel more bullish on him as the flaws in his game are not inherent other than his size. Skating and defensive play can be coached and developed. The lack of size may have been a bigger hurdle in the past, but there is plenty of room on every NHL team for a player that scores at a goal a game pace and is 5-9 in today’s NHL.
- Raphael Lavoie, RW – Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round two, 38th overall By Edmonton Oilers
Lavoie is a big, fast skating power winger with a heavy shot. He had a strong QMJHL career taking Halifax to the finals and hosting the Memorial Cup in his draft year, then winning the Gold with Canada at the WJC in his final year. His pro career began on loan in Sweden with Vasby in Allsvenskan before returning to make his AHL debut with five goals and 10 points in 19 games with the Condors in the regular season. Lavoie then played in six more playoff games scoring four points. The big winger is having a slow start in the AHL with only three assists through the first 13 games.
His combination of size, skating, and shooting ability make him a promising prospect. What Lavoie will need to be an impactful pro player is to find consistency in his game. He has been criticized for his lack of urgency and occasional indifference. If he can put it all together, he could be an impactful top-six winger with an elite center to play with, or he could wallow in the minors getting surpassed by other prospects.
- Ilya Konovalov, G – Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round three, 85th overall
After a breakout draft year in the KHL with Lokomotiv posting a 25-15-1 record with 1.89 GAA and .930 SV%, his performance has come down to earth a little. The Edmonton crease has been a point of contention for several years and many hoped they may have an answer in Konovalov and his decision to come to North America for the 2021-22 season offered hope. His start has been a period of adjustment with a rather pedestrian record of 2-2-2 and a 3.11 GAA and .867 SV% to start. An early injury to Oilers starter Mike Smith created an opportunity and Stuart Skinner was recalled to backup for the Oilers giving Konovalov the opportunity for more games along with Olivier Rodrigue in the AHL. It will be a contest to watch to see which goalie wins the organization’s confidence in the end.
- Dmitri Samorukov, D – Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
Drafted: 2017 round three, 84th overall by Edmonton Oilers
Samorukov was one of the Oilers rising prospects but has flatlined since turning pro. The big Russian was a force for the Guelph Storm in the OHL, where he had back-to-back 10 goal seasons and added ten goals and 28 points in 24 playoff games to lead the Storm to an OHL title. He was also a force for Russia at the 2019 WJC earning a Bronze Medal with four points in seven games.
Samorukov has a desirable combination of size, skating, defensive reliability, and howitzer of a point shot all project to the NHL. Since turning pro his rookie season in the AHL was good but his offensive production hit a speed bump with just ten points in 47 games. He returned to Russia last year during the pandemic and while his offense dried up even more with eight points in 48 games but his defensive game drew rave reviews and he posted a plus -24. Injuries have hit Samorukov hard and back in the AHL through nine games he has one goal.
His offensive production at the pro level may never materialize, but he still has a line on an NHL role as a solid two-way defenseman that would make an ideal partner for a more offensive player like Broberg.
- Tyler Tullio, C/RW – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Drafted: 2020 round five, 126th overall by Edmonton Oilers
“Tools” was limited to just 19 games last year, and with no OHL season, he played in Slovakia on a not very good team. He managed to produce 13 points. Good production in a men’s league but his game was criticized for his lazy and ineffective defensive play. He returned to North America and is off to a hot start with the Generals with 25 points in 16 games so far.
He is an excellent playmaker and passer with very good vision. His defensive game in the OHL has improved and he competes hard on both sides of the puck. Tullio has a motor and is effective on the forecheck and his skating is good with a pop in his first step which helps support his forecheck and offense. Assuming the defensive criticism from his game in Slovakia was a blip, the Oilers may have found themselves a sleeper in the fifth round as Tullio is proving to be a prospect to watch going forward.
- Tyler Benson, LW – Bakersfield Condors
Drafted: 2016 round two, 32nd overall by Edmonton Oilers
The once highly ranked prospect is still only 23-years-old. A series of injuries and a lack of NHL time has put into question his upside. Despite that, he has proven to be a consistent producer at the AHL level with 141 points in 156 career games.
No longer waiver exempt, he has stayed with the Oilers this year but has seen very limited action averaging 6:49 minutes in seven games and no points. This regular healthy scratch or bench warmer role will not help him develop and his future with Edmonton is not looking promising. The best scenario for him might be to be claimed off waivers and given a fresh opportunity in a new organization.