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Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report: Be careful, you’ll get traded if you keep playing this well

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Photo credit:twitter.com/Condors
Bruce Curlock
1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers are a funny organization from a developmental perspective. It’s clear they ask each player to develop specific areas of their game, which is good.
So, when the specific player achieves personal success in these developmental tasks, it’s a great step for both the player and the team. Unfortunately, a lot of the times, this is where it stops for the organization.
Why does it stop? Because the Edmonton Oilers do not trust their developmental group or the young players going through the process to succeed in the NHL. In this context, we will talk about Raphael Lavoie.
Is this a player who could help the Edmonton Oilers? Maybe. Will we ever find out? I’m not convinced at all. More on Lavoie and all your news and notes from the prospect land in this week’s Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report.

Who Caught My Eye This Week?

Raphael Lavoie

When Lavoie was drafted, he came with a reputation as a player with great size, a great shot and a mean streak. The downside was his skating and his effort level in zones other than the offensive zone. He also had a habit of not using his size when he could to overwhelm other players. It was clear what the Oilers needed to do to help this player get to the NHL.
To their credit, the Oilers put an excellent plan in place. This is a player that needed two full seasons for sure and Lavoie is now in his third season. His offensive game is very good. He is on pace to have his highest totals in goals, assists, points, shots and penalty minutes. He is currently at 17-13—30 in 41 games with 133 shots on net.
This week was more of the same for him, going 2-1—3 in four games with 13 shots on net. He had one of his patent goals.

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When he isn’t scoring, his shot remains something that gives goalies trouble, including NHL goalies. Often, it leads to goals or scoring chances for his teammates as it did this week again.

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He also scored a goal that came off as a part of his developmental program. Watch him use his size and then his god-given talent to score this goal.

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This is a goal that was not in his repertoire on a consistent basis in the past. This is also a goal that Lavoie can often score both in the AHL and, I believe, in the NHL. At a minimum, it is certainly something an NHL coach will insist be a part of his game. Even when he doesn’t score on this type of play, he still can create chaos and draw penalties, which he did this week.

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However, this next clip is the most encouraging one for Raphael Lavoie. This was not in his game in prior years. It is now, and it is a very consistent part of his game. Watch this clip.
Specifically, watch the first part when he realizes the opposition is headed back on an odd-man attack. He blows by his own man Greg McKegg and works his ass off to get back into the slot to make a defensive play. Then he follows that up with another tremendous play in his own zone.

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Now, we want him to shoot on both opportunities instead of deferring to Seth Griffith. which happens too much with many of the young players. He shoots and there is a decent chance he scores on both chances.
Where are we at with Raphael Lavoie? Well, he is done at the AHL level. He cannot prove anymore at this level. He can score, play defence, fight, and is very hard to play against. Raphael Lavoie needs an opportunity to prove himself in the NHL.
Here is the problem: The Edmonton Oilers don’t have a great track record of allowing young players, especially offensive forwards, the time on ice to show themselves. He cannot play seven minutes with three of those minutes coming in mop up duty at the end of the game.
He needs to play in the teeth of the game on a regular line getting a regular shift. It doesn’t matter whether the Edmonton Oilers are trying to win Stanley Cups each year. These players have to be part of the process. The salary cap requires it. The length of the season requires it. Injuries require it. The Edmonton Oilers, however, do not seem to require it.
This is a player ready for the next level. Will he be a star? Almost assuredly not. Can he contribute in a lot of ways to an NHL team competing for playoff success? Yes, I believe he can. Almost assuredly though, it will happen somewhere other than Edmonton.

Jayden Grubbe

Jayden Grubbe is almost the antithesis of Raphael Lavoie. They both have excellent size. Both are very hard to play against. Each has its skating issues as well. However, that is where the similarities end. Grubbe is a defensive center who knows that part of the game so well that you would think he was a 26-year-old AHL veteran with 300 games on his resume.
Where he needs to improve is offensively. There is no question that Grubbe could play 4C in the NHL if his skating were better right now. What will keep him in the NHL is obviously his skating and offence. You have to be able to chip in or NHL teams will pass on you as a player, so this week was a very encouraging sign. Grubbe came off an injury to play on Saturday night and what a return. Here is a snapshot of what had me excited during the game.
Watch this first clip, where he ties up his man in the face-off circle to get a winger win. Then, look at him and track the puck to recover it. Now, this is the part I like. He didn’t panic. He was patient and made a solid play to open up an offensive opportunity for his team.

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He had another great little play that led to a goal for the Condors. Watch him come from deep in his zone like a good center does and contribute to the attack. He has the awareness to know his winger is going to the net and makes a great little pass to set up the goal.

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Grubbe’s 200-foot game is getting more well-developed each time he is out on the ice.
Finally, Grubbe scored a goal that I just loved. I actually think Grubbe can shoot a little bit, but he will not score in the NHL from a distance. He will score from three feet in the NHL. Watch this goal by Grubbe. The guy will do just about anything to get to the net and create space for himself and his teammates.

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Grubbe’s line for the night was 1-1-2 with two shots and a plus-two playing on a fourth line. He played on the penalty kill and took a lot of defensive zone draws on his strong side. This is a player I will watch closely for the next year. There is a role for him in the NHL in the bottom six, given his handedness, size and position.

Carter Savoie

Don’t worry I will not spend 500 words on this one play. However, I wanted to illustrate where we are with two players on the offensive side of the game. Savoie has one less point than Bourgault in four fewer games. He is also a plus-seven, while Bourgault is a minus-two.
This one play is something I have seen a bunch of from each player and why I am more enthusiastic about one and far less so on the other. The face-off set-up is from the old minor hockey days. The strong-side winger is on the wall instead of in the middle of the ice. So we have Savoie on the wall and Bourgault on the inside. Each player’s assignment is to get to their point. The puck is won through each defenceman and down the ice.
Watch the start off the face-off. Savoie jumps hard into the play and is already ahead of Bourgault despite starting from a further distance. Then continues hard up the ice. What does Bourgault do? Slow down and defer. I hate that. I cannot express how much I hate that.
He needs to go as hard as Savoie and get into a tight F2 position. Instead, he coasts up the ice to his spot. Savoie makes a great play to release the puck for Bourgault to gather up. Bourgault does grab it, but is immediately attacked by two players. This means Savoie is open down low. What happens? Bourgault tries to dangle and loses the puck and the great forecheck is wasted.

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There is too much of this whole play in Bourgault’s game. He defers to other players and the play dies on his stick too often. This is a player who gets great linemates and lots of skill time on the ice. Whether it is confidence or something else, this player needs an overhaul. He needs an off-season reset if he is staying in the organization, which may not be the case come trade deadline.
As for Savoie, I am really enjoying his game right now. He needs another year, but his game is developing well. He scored an absolute beauty goal this week which exemplified his skills. This is a 3v3 OT situation. First, kudos to the coach for trusting him out there because that has not always been the case.
Watch his stick in defending the attack. Savoie is so good in this area of the game. Once he corrals the puck, watch the nice burst up the ice. The player is plenty fast enough at the professional level, which is something people were concerned about. Then we have the shot. The release is NHL quality without a doubt.

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Carter Savoie is starting to come as a player. He is learning the physical side of the game. How to give a hit and how to take one. His puck protection skills are absolutely sublime. He needs another year, but there is a player that could deliver at the NHL level someday.

News and Notes

  • Shane Lachance has been moved to the top line at Boston University with soon-to-be first-overall pick Macklin Celebrini. Lachance is 2-2—4 in three games, and the combination looks very good. Lachance is a Pat Maroon-esque player who will complement skill players with his size, shot, and toughness. His skating still needs a lot of work, but he remains an intriguing prospect.
  • Matvey Petrov continues a bit of a tough season of injuries. He is out with his second serious injury this season (undisclosed) and has only played 33 of the team’s 47 games.
  • Markus Niemelainen is also out again. The rugged defenceman has suffered a few upper body injuries that I am positive are concussion-related. The latest happened last weekend and he has not played since this hit. I worry about his career and wonder whether it is best for the player to look at his future options sooner rather than later.

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That is all for this week. As always, thank you for reading. Please send me your feedback here or to @bcurlock on the X. See you all next weekend.

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