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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.