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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

OILERS TOP TEN PROSPECTS: Post-Draft Edition

The Oilers added another group of prospects to the pipeline on Saturday and a couple of them have managed to work their way into my post-draft Top Ten.

1. Evan Bouchard – D – London Knights

45GP: 16G – 37A = 53 points (OHL)

Many people were worried that Bouchard couldn’t gain anything by going back to junior but he put together a hell of a season finishing with 53 points in 45 games played. Bouchard joined me on the smash hit Nielson show on Thursday morning, and said the most important lesson for him from this past season was to continue to build his work ethic.

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OILERS ETA: Mid-Winter/Early Spring 2020

2. Philip Broberg – D – AIK, Allsvenskan

41GP: 2G – 7A = 9 points

I was told that Bouchard and Philip Broberg could be viewed as a 1A/1B situation, but I opted to go with Broberg at #2 simply because he will need much more time to develop. He’s the best skating defenseman they have in the pipeline but will need time to have the rest of his game catch up to his feet. He has signed to play with Skelleftea in the SHL next season but Holland has hinted that Hamilton in the OHL could still be an option, we’ll likely find out more on his immediate future this week. Bob Green said the decision to come to North America will be up to the kid.

OILERS ETA: Fall 2022

3. Tyler Benson – W – Bakersfield Condors

68GP: 15G – 51A = 66 points

Tyler Benson’s rookie season in the American Hockey League could not have gone any better. First and foremost, he stayed healthy. Benson finished the season just shy of a point-per-game with 66 points in 68 contests. His ability to create plays off the wing will eventually help him become a very important piece of the Oilers’ offence.

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OILERS ETA: Spring 2020 maybe earlier depending on the Oilers off-season acquisitions.

4. Kailer Yamamoto – RW – Bakersfield Condors

27GP: 10G – 8A = 18 points (AHL)
17GP: 1G – 1A = 2 points (NHL)

Unlike Benson, Yamamoto’s first year as a pro didn’t really go as planned. Yamamoto started with the Oilers and was likely kept with the big club too long. In 26 NHL games, Yamamoto has only managed to score one goal and help set up four others. His production in the AHL was fine for a rookie but unfortunately, an injury derailed his season. The Oilers still think very highly of this player but I sure hope he starts the season in the AHL.

OILERS ETA: SPRING 2020/Fall 2020

5. Dmitri Samorukov – D – Guelph Storm

59GP: 10G – 35A = 45 points

Samorukov’s regular season gave Oilers management and fan base a reason get excited and then he was even better in the post-season. Samorukov took his offensive game to another level in the OHL playoffs putting up 28 points in 24 games. As impressive as his offensive numbers are he plays the game with a nasty edge at the other end of the ice. I really wanted to put him 4th on this list but my source suggested to me that Yamamoto should still be a spot higher.

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OILERS ETA: Spring 2021

6. Cooper Marody C – Bakersfield

59GP: 19G – 45A = 64 points
6GP: 0G – 0A = 0 points

Marody had an excellent rookie season in Bakersfield putting up 64 points in 58 games. I wouldn’t read too much into his lack of production in the brief time he did get with the Oilers.

The team has loved him since the moment they acquired him and I feel like they envision him as a third line centre. Depending on the rest of the off-season I’d say he has the best chance on this list to crack the opening night roster.

OILERS ETA: FALL 2019

7. Caleb Jones – D – Bakersfield

50GP: 6G – 23A = 29 points (AHL)
17GP: 1G – 5A = 6 points (NHL)

Caleb Jones did everything the Oilers could have asked of him this season. He took a nice step forward in his second with the Condors and managed to not look out of place during his call up to the Oilers. Another season in the AHL won’t hurt Jones but I could see him getting a very long look with the Oilers in the fall.

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OILERS ETA: Spring 2020

8. Ryan McLeod – C – Saginaw Spirit

63GP: 19G – 43A = 62 points (OHL)
5GP: 0G – 3A = 3 points (AHL Playoffs)

McLeod turned a lot of heads in training camp and the pre-season last fall and followed it up with a pretty good season in the OHL. He got a taste of AHL playoff hockey with Bako and managed to pick up three assists in five games. Even though he looked good in camp last year I would limit my expectations for this fall.

OILERS ETA: Spring 2021/Fall 2021

9. Raphael Lavoie – RW/C – Halifax Mooseheads

62GP: 32G – 41A = 73 points

Lavoie is a rare commodity in today’s game, a self-described power forward and he certainly fits the bill. He scored 20 goals in the QMJHL playoffs.

From McKeen’s Hockey:

“A large and skilled player. Offensively, his release stands out which is very accurate and allows him to be a capable scorer. Furthermore, Lavoie reads the game fairly well and is good at distributing the puck.”

The Oilers may have been drafted the best player available at 38, but Lavoie also fills a need with his size and skill. By all accounts, he moves pretty well for a big man although he did tell me he needs to work on his explosiveness. I’m excited to see what type of numbers he puts up next season, I don’t think 40 goals is an unreasonable expectation.

OILERS ETA: Fall 2023

10. Kirill Maksimov – RW – Niagara IceDogs

63GP: 40G – 39A = 79 points

Maksimov has now played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey league and his goal output has improved every single season. There is no denying his offensive abilities, I’ll be interested to see what type of role he gets in Bakersfield next season.

OILERS ETA: Fall 2021

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THE DEPTH

Don’t be mad that Ethan Bear, Shane Starrett or any of the Oilers other goaltending prospects aren’t on this list. The Oilers have the best prospect depth they’ve had since I started covering this team and that was ten years ago.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:


  • Ivan Drago

    Thanks for the great work on all the prospect articles the last week Dustin. I’m happy with Broberg and thrilled to land Lavoie at 38. Now we wait for Gord and Alex to come whine and complain that the Oilers didn’t listen to them.

      • Ken Holland

        We are B
        Building a defence around 1st round draft picks.

        Klefbom 19th overall
        Larsson 4th overall
        Nurse 7th overall
        Bouchard 10th overall
        Broberg 8th overall

        Plus Samurokov, Jones, Bear, Etc all late round picks. This is how championship teams are built.

        McDavid – Draisaitl- Nuge (top 3 picks centre picks help too)

  • Spydyr

    I’m very excited for the future of the Oiler defence. The Blues defence played a large part in them winning the Cup. Connor , Dria and Nuge having and very good defence behind them should get the good times rolling. Now if one of the goalies can step up like Billington……

  • Spydyr

    I expect Yamamoto to continue to fall on this list. I thought it was a walkabout pick when they made it and so far that has held true. He may be able to put on some muscle but he cannot grow taller.I hope Yamamoto improves but outside of early preseason games he has not showed much.

    • McJeetz

      While I believe the oilers playing him too much on the big club has no doubt hurt his development, I can’t help but think Yamo is more like Ray Whitney or Mike Cammaleri. They didn’t impact the NHL until 23-25 years old, both smaller players. Oilers need to put him in the Ahl and forget about him for 2-3 years. The kid is only 20

  • Lowe enuf

    I am happy with the Bro pick. I do not believe Yamamoto will progress. Small players need exceptional skill to overcome their size limitations in the NHL. He is good but far from exceptional.

    • hags437

      Said it before and I’ll say it again. Broberg is only 17 years old and played most of the year in a tough league against men.
      Zegras is a talented player no doubt. I just wonder how he would have done playing in that league on his own rather than the luxury of playing with Hughes and company.

  • Peff

    Dustin great article. Just one thing … can you update Bouchard’s numbers in his headline to reflect his AHL playoff stats . I’d like to show this article off to a few of my Oiler hating friends… with his numbers in the A it will give me more ammo .. lol

  • Petey Summers

    Can’t imagine any team taking Broberg ahead of Trevor Zegras who is the exact offensive forward the Oil are in such dire need of. Baffles the mind, this …

        • Spydyr

          You cannot expect players that are not high first round picks to help the team in their draft year. Good teams develop them like Holland is saying he will do. Rushing a player hurts both the player and the team.

          This is not rocket surgery. It is hockey 101 but for decades the smartest people in the room did not get it.

          • Reg Dunlop

            Just who exactly did the Oil rush that wasn’t a high 1st round pick? Solely blaming mgmt. for the Yak and Puljujarvi busts is unfair. Blame must be shared by the scouts and the players themselves. Eberle was a draft plus 2 NHLer and Nurse a draft plus 3. Petry was a draft plus 4 and Klefbom a draft plus 3. I don’t see any rushing there, but I will concede Gagner and Paajarvi.

  • ed from edmonton

    I fully expect Caleb Jones to be on the Oil roster opening night. They will need to move out some higher priced D to allow them to spend more of their cap to improve their forwards. From what we saw of Jones last year here, his physical abilities are clearly better than Russel, Benning and was doing well until he was forced to play top pairing minutes.

    I see the Oil D being something like Klef/Larssen/Nurse/Jones/Sekera/Persson and one of either Russel or Benning.

    There is also a chance that Benson makes the team this fall, although that will depend on how much forward help Holland can acquire.

    • Spydyr

      Klefbom/Larsson

      Nurse/Jones

      Sekera/Russell

      Benning

      IMO this should be the lineup unless a trade is made this summer. Which very well could happen. I have no problem with Benning being the seventh defenceman but if he plays higher up that would be a problem.

        • Spydyr

          It would be nice but I would wait and see if Bouchard was ready before moving any defenceman. Bouchard has done well in Juniors and his brief AHL stint but he may need more AHL time.

          IMO dumping Lucic’s cap hit is more important but what the Leafs gave up to move Marleau scares the beejesus out of me.If they can move Lucic there are many free agent wingers available.

          • ed from edmonton

            I wish people would quit talking about Lucic he is just unmoveable or you have to take back equal garbage, like Erickson. Lucic is something Holland has to manage around.

        • Ol_OneNut

          If any of those three gets traded, my money is on Benning. All of them are third line D, but Benning is younger and cheaper and only under contract one more year.

      • Kneedroptalbot

        Spyder I agree with you 100%, I think Caleb Jones has an excellent chance of cracking the lineup this year, his smooth skating and passing really impressed me. Also very happy with the Broberg Pick, might be the best skating d-man in the draft bar none.

    • T Shuttz

      I say get rid of both Russel(Ott) and Benning(Van) and give Jones and Persson a chance. That will free up a tone of cap space to either trade for forwards or sign come July1st.

      • McJeetz

        Benning doesn’t get enough love on this site. His numbers scream perfect 3rd pairing who can play on 2nd pairing in a pinch, he is only 25 years old. We need players like him

        • Arfguy

          I like Benning a lot. I think it would be a severe mistake to trade him, regardless of how easy it might be to move him. As much as I like the guy, the one player that I think should be moved on defence is Kris Russell.

          I don’t want Russell moved, as he brings what a player like Matt Hendricks did for the team. Yeah, he is very much overpaid, but you need more heart and soul players, because it looked on most nights that the Oilers were severely lacking a pulse.

  • HockeyYoda

    I’m not sure if this rates prospects by how close they are now or what they eventually become? But IMO, I believe Samorukov has a much better chance of being an impact NHL’ er than Yamamoto. Also, I would rank Lavoie right up there as well. I’ve noticed him a while back during his tryout with the world juniors. He brings a lot a skill and size to the table. I think the only question will be if he can put in the work to improve on his deficiencies.

    • ed from edmonton

      Samaroukov is a guy who came out of the blue the blue this year. He had a good rookie camp and just kept getting better all year. He hasn’t had to play against men yet, but his size may suggest he will fair better as a pro than Yamo. I am also surprised that Lagesson isn’t on the list. Didn’t Holland say that Lagesson is the most NHL ready of the Bake Dmen?

  • One thing Holland won’t do is rush these players into the NHL so the Oiler fans have to be patient as for some of them they could be 2/3 years away. The team should bite the bullet and not make any long term free agent signings for a quick fix but wait until their draft and develop kids are ready.

    • Spydyr

      If the Oilers drafted and developed properly in the past the players drafted 2/3 years ago would be ready to help now. Instead they have things like the JP fiasco.

      • Shameless Plugger

        Yes we get that by now. You repeated it numerous time. But we can’t change the past, it is what it is. Constantly bringing it up serves no purpose.

        Let’s instead look to the future and see a nice bubbling of prospects that should be ready when the terrible contracts are set to expire. If we can somehow patch together a couple wingers I think our current d-corps is good enough for us to squeak into the playoffs.

        Enough with the revisionist history. We ALL know what it is. Time to move on.

        • Spydyr

          Sure lets just forget the ineptitude that is the Katz era because is is the summer kool-aid season. Things are looking better but until they get results like say making the playoffs nothing has changed. Most here were overjoyed when Chia was hired. Holland appears to be making better moves but he was put out to pasture by the Wings and his best days where a decade ago.

          • Shameless Plugger

            I never said forget the past. I just don’t see how continually repeating the same thing every day on every article serves any purpose whatsoever.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Solid list by Dusty.

    I’d have Lavoie higher than Marody for sure. Of course, Lavoie is at least one year away and quite possibly 2, however, his ceiling is much much higher than Marody. Marody may become a solid bottom 6 or maybe middle 6 player but he’s also reasonably likely to remain a tweener – the next 12 months will be big for Cooper.

    I’d have Lagesson on that list near Jones. Totally different type of player than Jones but I feel Willie is just as NHL ready (although Jones will likely be on the opening night roster and Willie waiting for the recall) and can impact the lineup just as materially over the next few years.

    He’ll have to prove it when he gets his recall, but I feel Willie is fully ready for 3LD duties and, within a few years, has a legit shot to become a solid 22 minutes 2LD – he is the “new age” defensive defender – plus defence with aggression and a mean streak (not quite as mean as Larsson but in that realm) but also a good skater with a solid transition game and decent offensive instincts. He’s going to be a fan favorite when he gets his shot.

  • OriginalPouzar

    When speaking about Maksimov, it does a disservice to him to just speak of his offensive abilities. Maksi is a “complete player”. He started off this past season on a 50G pace but, once Niagara loaded up with acquisitions, he was asked and accepted a role with lesser offensive opportunities but more of a 2-way game – he took on tougher defensive assignments and became one of the better penalty killers in the OHL and still managed 40 plus goals.

    Yes, his shot is his main asset (and its a beauty, best shot of an Oiler forward since Arnott, maybe Stoll) – if he hits, he may score 40 with that shot – but he is a complete 2-way player.

    • The future never comes

      Sorry, but you speak in absolutes like you have scouted all of these Oiler’s prospects live? Do you travel around the world on your own dime and scout these prospects just as a hobby? Must be expensive! Last time I checked, these amateur games are not televised for the average viewer to watch.

      • Tonya Harding Compete Level

        If you read any of the prospect updates on this site you would know OP actually does watch these prospect games closely and gives in depth scouting feedback all year long. It’s actually awesome.

          • Boba The Fett

            Actually OP’s reports are much more detailed than most scouting reports and he watches way more prospect games then any of the bloggers or media personalities in Edmonton. I for one am grateful for his updates and love hearing them. People like future need to just piss off with their negativity, just be happy and grateful for once

      • OriginalPouzar

        Well, I watched about 75% of the Condors games this year with an AHL.com membership.

        Definitely didn’t watch as much of the guys in the OHL and Q (Safin and Rodrigue), probably about a game a week, purchased off of OHL.com.

        Last year, after the Letestu trade, I watched 5 Michigan games to get a sense of Marody (and was surprised by his talent level). Streamed on the TSN app leading up to the Frozen Four.

  • ed from edmonton

    It will be interesting to see how Mcleod and Lavoie pan out. Both early 2nd round picks that were expected to go in the 1st. Different styles with Mcleod being an exceptional skater, even at the NHL level, and Lavoie being more like a power forward who will need to improve his first step to compete in the NHL.

  • ed from edmonton

    The real good news here is that we have legitimate prospects to discuss. Kudos to the likes of Keith Gretzky and Bob Green for their work over the last three years. Lagesson is the only guy (not on Neilson’s list but should have been) who pre-dates Grtzky/Green.

  • Kevwan

    I’d imagine that if Zegras was the pick he’d be at 2 as well. It will be interesting to compare Broberg/Lavoie’s development with Zegras/Mathew Robertson down the road.

    So right about the depth – kids left of the list that would’ve been top 5 just a few years ago.

  • Lavoie was a score! Happy to see the oil get him later as the first pick might have been a touch early. I feel like this kid definitely could have went in the first round so to get him that deep kind of gets me over any apprehension over the Broberg move. I think brobergs upside is there so it’s not a brutal coin toss when they were able to hedge the bet with Lavoie.

  • Hockeytalkguy

    It is too bad that Chia brought in Brandon Manning, and signed Koskinen before he got fired. Holland would of had 15 million in cap space to work with. Holland is going to have to work some magic to ice a competive team.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Well, I watched about 75% of the Condors games this year with an AHL.com membership.

    Definitely didn’t watch as much of the guys in the OHL and Q (Safin and Rodrigue), probably about a game a week, purchased off of OHL.com.

    Last year, after the Letestu trade, I watched 5 Michigan games to get a sense of Marody (and was surprised by his talent level). Streamed on the TSN app leading up to the Frozen Four.

  • OilCan2

    Awesome list. Reading it gives me confidence in the future. Having the Condors running hot will be great for development and call ups. That depth will come in very handy; maybe even before next Christmas.