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Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report: Lather, rinse, repeat

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Photo credit:Bakersfield Condors
Bruce Curlock
1 month ago
It’s almost become comical. Each week as Oiler prospects grind away at their game, one player is always head and shoulders above them all. Each week, I write about it and what his path is to the NHL. Each week he remains in the AHL continuing to rack up impressive game after game.
The dam will break someday, no question. There is a strong chance that happens at the trade deadline. Whether that means he’s in another NHL city or the Oilers call him up to fill a fourth line role after other trades is yet to be determined.
For certain though, Raphael Lavoie needs a sustained NHL chance. More on another strong week for Lavoie and all the news and notes in this week’s Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report.

Who Caught My Eye?

Raphael Lavoie

There seems to be a lot of narrative around this player not scoring enough at 5v5. It’s fair from a stats line basis for certain. Of his 20 goals, 11 have come on the powerplay. It’s a good area to improve upon for certain. However, there is far more context in this critique that needs to be mentioned. For starters, what was asked of Lavoie was to improve his defensive game when he arrived. He has worked quite hard on that for the past three years.
This year he’s been on a line where quite frankly he’s had to be the defensive conscience on many nights. So, your 5v5 opportunities are going to take a hit. Then there is the small matter of his linemates. Lavoie is not going to be a play driver. It’s not his game. He will need players around him who like to move with the puck. The Condors are not flush with players of that caliber.
Lane Pederson would be a natural fit for him as would Drake Cagguila, but he sees very little time with either. Instead, he spends a lot of time with Greg McKegg and Seth Griffith. Griffith is a good match, but struggles at 5v5. McKegg is not a play driver even at the AHL level. Nevertheless, it is an area of his game that can be used to hold back any type of promotion to the NHL.
This week, however, Lavoie answered some of that criticism. In three games, he went 3-1–4 and was a solid plus three. He also registered another ten shots. The impressive part was all of Lavoie’s scoring was at even strength. Here is all three goals in a row and they will all look very familiar to those that follow him.

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The release on his shot is certainly NHL quality. The goal I really liked was his 19th of the season which was the second one of the trio. What I liked most was him just simply deciding to get to the middle and then make the goalie stop him. He did not. I think Lavoie could do more of this at 5v5. Instead of trying to move through players to get better looks, take the look that is presented in the middle of ice and let it fly.
The other element that Lavoie can use more is his size. He’s not soft by any stretch. I just don’t know if he realizes there are very few players who can compete with him physically. His puck skills are great and his skating is certainly good enough. When he combines those with his size, he is a load. Watch this clip off the face-off in his own zone.

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Ty Tullio

Tullio didn’t have a monster week on the stat line at all. He had one goal in the three games he played and was an even on the plus/minus sheet. He also had five shots on net, which again, is not enough for a player with his shot. The reason I wanted to highlight him is he did some things this week that are encouraging.
The goal he scored this week was not off his shot, which is a real plus. Instead, where it came from was off a play that he created almost all on his own. In the clip here, we see him gather the puck in his zone. Instead of moving the puck to a teammate, he takes the puck up the ice. He doesn’t always do this or at least enough. Then watch this play at center.
He has Cagguila there as an option. Watch how Tullio moves to the middle to create space for Cagguila to move outside. When he hits the blueline, he makes a nice little pass and now there is a great little play developing because both defensemen track the puck. It doesn’t end there though. Tullio then goes straight into the shooting lane to act as a screen and ends up deflecting the puck home. This is high quality stuff from him and is something I would like to see more of.

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The part of Tullio’s game that will need to excel is his board work. At his size, he needs to win or at least tie battles in all zones. In his zone, he does a fine job of getting the puck out on first attempts. Where he is challenged is in the offensive zone. Tullio seems to be in the zone a lot, but when he gets on the wall, he is struggling to maintain possession. He tends to stop his feet, which allows bigger defenders to engage him quickly.
What Tullio needs to do is keep moving his feet for two reason. First, is that gain a good leverage position. Get inside of a player to shield him from the puck. Secondly, if he keeps moving, he can thwart any attempts to pin him to the wall. This week there was some good video of him having more success here. This clip was probably my favorite. It did not end up in a goal, but did create a chance.

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Tullio is a very smart player. He reads the puck come down the wall and quickly explodes out to get into a good position meeting the puck as far out as he can. He then uses his body to shield the defender and, instead of stopping, rolls of the check and keeps moving. Then he just keeps moving looking for lanes of attack for him and his team. He needs to do more of this every game. He understands the game so well that he gets quick reads that if would keep moving his feet when the puck is on the wall, he would have more success in sustaining offensive attacks.

News And Notes

– I was certain I was writing about Carter Savoie this week. He had such a great game despite registering no points. His forecheck was instrumental on two goals for the Condors and he really was playing with a lot of confidence. Regrettably, he missed the two weekend games with a lower body injury. No word for his return Monday.
– One player that did return was Matvey Petrov. He came back on Saturday and was engaged all night. He ended up with three shots on net, but no points.
– There was also some video of Philip Broberg doing some hard on-ice work this week and so it is likely he returns soon to the Condors line-up.
– One thing that I continue to have some challenges with is what appears to be a dislocation between Bakersfield and Edmonton on player development. The particular topic this week is the penalty kill for forwards. The constant message is offensive players will not get a chance on the powerplay in Edmonton, so they should learn how to penalty kill to add value.
Naturally, you would assume that means in Bakersfield, these players would get a chance. Certainly, Dylan Holloway did when he was down. However, that has been the extend of it. This week I decided to do penalty kill time on ice for the forwards.
The top five in order were: McKegg, Kambeitz, Adam Erne, Jayden Grubbe and Lane Pederson. Exactly one prospect is getting consistent penalty kill time and that is Jayden Grubbe, who happens to be a right shot center. Now, I would be fine with this if the penalty kill were strong. However, it is not. The Bakersfield Condors penalty kill is 30th out of 32 teams at 76%. This week it was at 71% and certainly cost the team one if not two wins this week.
That’s it for this week folks. The next time I write will be post trade deadline. Let’s see whose here and whose not. Have a great week.

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