A statement year ahead for Edmonton Oilers prospect Xavier Bourgault
5 months ago
Xavier Bourgault is the Edmonton Oilers top prospect heading to Penticton, British Colombia, this weekend for the NHL’s Young Stars tournament. He’s the only former first-round pick headed to the Okanagan area, so expectations are high for Bourgault. With a year of professional hockey under his belt, he should find ways to thrive and showcase himself over the weekend.
“My goal is to start with a big rookie tournament in Penticton,” said Xavier Bourgault. “Last year went pretty well, but I for sure want to take another step after my first pro season. I was able to skate with the older guys this week, so I am hoping to bring that experience with me.”
Bourgault’s first season with the Bakersfield Condors was good, scoring 13 goals and 34 points in 62 games. However, it didn’t matter how good or bad he did with Wyatt Johnston excelling like he did in the NHL, who was the selection after Bourgault in 2021.
Every player’s path to the NHL is different, and the road is not closed for Bourgault.
“I want to be more confident,” said Bourgault, who came in at No. 2 in my colleague Bruce Curlock’s Edmonton Oilers prospect countdown. “Last year, I didn’t want to make too many mistakes with it being my first season. I just wanted to play it safe as a young player, but I think I can take a huge step this year. I practised with many NHL guys this summer, so I took their advice to help me gain confidence. Just practising with them made me a better player.”
“My goal is to make the big team,” said Bourgault. “We’ll start with the rookie camp in Penticton and see what happens from there. Last season was a learning year for me, but I learned from my mistakes and got better.”
The ambition of making the NHL roster is what you want to see from a top prospect like Bourgault. However, it may be an uphill battle based on the talent already on the Oilers roster.
The majority of spots in the top nine are already taken, with one, maybe two places available on the fourth line. It’s a crowded group challenge for those final spots, but Bourgault’s name isn’t a part of that group. However, the Oilers don’t need him to be.
As Jason Gregor pointed out, the Oilers haven’t had many rookies in their lineup the past few seasons. Dylan Holloway made the team out of camp last year and survived 51 games before returning to Bakersfield. Phillip Broberg played just shy of 50 games, and Vincent Desharnais played 36 games. Before that, Ryan McLeod was the only rookie to grace the Oilers lineup in 2022.
The Oilers need Bourgault to take strides in Bakersfield, similar to what Raphael Lavoie did last season.
There’s a ton to like about Bourgault’s game, and Bruce Curlock summarises it nicely in his season review piece.
“The year for most Oiler prospects was rocky. Xavier Bourgault was no exception. That said, there is a lot to like. Bourgault needs to decide if he wants to work hard on every single shift that is given to him. If he does, great. If he does not, he’s going to fail out as a first-round pick. That would be a shame, given his talent. Bougault no doubt is aware of the conundrum on the Oilers depth chart at right wing. There are opportunities here for someone like him. He just has to decide if he wants it because his skills are certainly a fit.”
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