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Young Stars The Day After 1.0: “Hi, My Name Is Beau Akey”

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Photo credit:Edmonton Oilers
Bruce Curlock
6 months ago
When the Oilers drafted Beau Akey with their first pick (#56 overall) in the 2023 NHL Draft, I joked that there would be a lot of pressure on Akey to succeed given that he was one of three picks the Oilers made in the entire draft.
Well, Akey may just take me up on the challenge based on his initial foray into the world of professional hockey at the Oilers opening game of the Young Stars Classic in Penticton.
Akey, who was the second youngest player in the Oilers lineup, was all over the play in every zone on each shift. It was an encouraging start for the newest Oiler draft pick and he helped lead the team to a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets prospects.

Who Made An Impression?

Beau Akey

I have seventeen clips that involve Akey from tonight’s game. He was incredible confident each time he was on the ice and it showed up on the score sheets. He finished the game 1-1-2 for the Oilers. If you are already tired of reading this article and cannot go on, just watch this one clip that encompasses everything about Beau Akey and what he did tonight.
It starts with a strong defensive play on a puck race at the blueline. He then makes a very patient play to his forward moving up ice, which is followed by him immediately moving up ice to create an attack. Watch his feet when he gets the puck at the offensive blue line. Look at the ease with which it turns directions and without any loss of pace. He remains patient and scans for the next play. Such tremendous composure for a young defenceman.

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The most impressive element to Akey’s game tonight was his defence to offence play. He made several strong defensive plays to create turnovers. Instead of settling for sending the puck forward, he made excellent outlets to start offensive attacks.

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When he wasn’t turning pucks over for his team, he was retrieving them and starting an attack quickly which he often joined. Watch this play that nearly results in a goal for the Oilers. Akey makes a great first pass to catch Winnipeg flat-footed. He then races up the ice and becomes the mid-lane passing option and makes a great play to find his teammate on weak side of the net who nearly scores.

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Akey had an assist tonight, but he also showed off his very good shot. The goal was on a well-run 5v4 powerplay.

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It was a great debut and one that if it is repeated a couple more times this weekend, may start the OEG offices talking.

Maximus Wanner

It was a notable step down from Akey to any other prospect, but I liked Maximus Wanner’s game tonight. Played a lot of minutes with ECHLer Xavier Bernard. Wanner was very reliable in his own zone. He thwarted several attempts by a very skilled Jets forward group. Here is some video of what we saw a lot of from Wanner. He makes a nice transition to recover an area chip. He does run into some forecheck trouble, but recovers with quick feet and an even quicker stick to relieve the pressure.

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Wanner also had a few moments tonight with the puck. As a pro, I would really like to see him do more of this type of work here. He has the skills to be effective in moving up the ice with the puck.

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Wanner ended up playing a fair amount as the Oilers got into some penalty trouble. He was quite strong on the penalty kill as the Oilers really suppressed the Jets and their high-skill forwards. Tomorrow I would love to see a shade more offense out of Wanner to round out his game.

Carter Savoie

There was not much to pick from a group of forwards at evens tonight, but I thought Carter Savoie showed flashes. He was on PP1 with Bourgault, Berglund, Petrov and Akey. It was an effective group for certain. However, it was his play at evens that I really liked. When Savoie digs in and commits, he is very good at winning pucks and creating opportunities. Watch this video here. First, he starts by just being a hurdle for the opposition forward to navigate on the forecheck. He helps create a loose puck that is turned up ice. He races up the ice to get into the play. When the puck is lost, instead of quitting on the play, he backchecks hard and wins the puck back. He made a great little pass that ended up being a very good scoring chance.

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Here is an even better example of what Savoie can do when he commits to the process. Watch the faceoff below. He beats his man inside to get to the loose puck. He then moves the puck from skate to stick before ringing the puck off the bar from in tight. It was a tremendous play that deserved a better fate.

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Savoie ended up getting rewarded with a nice little pass on the Akey goal to end the night 0-1-1. It wasn’t a page-turner night for Savoie, but it was a good start with two more game to come.

Jake Sloan

I am going to break my normal rule of not including Edmonton signed/drafted prospects because Jake Sloan had a great game. The 19-year-old camp invite who plays with Tri-City of the WHL had a “dream come true” type of game. Centering the fourth line, Sloan scored two goals for the Oilers including the winner. His game was physical and effective. He lacks speed, but managed to get to spots on time and create havoc. Not sure he is a center at the pro level, but there is some skill in him. My favorite shift was his first goal which displayed both ends of the spectrum of the game. A massive hit at one end helped to start the play up the ice. Finished by a deft little tip home to start the Oilers scoring.

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The goal for a player like Sloan at these tourneys is to get noticed. Hope to be a late-round overage pick or an unrestricted free agent signing. Jake Sloan had a nice start to achieving that goal against Winnipeg.

What About The Rest?

The rest of the Oilers’ prospects had varying degrees of success. Tullio, Bourgault and Grubbe each had moments. I thought Bourgault got stronger as the game went on. Need to see more 5v5 success for him. Tullio was his usual pain in the ass self. Made several good hits along with some excellent defensive work. Had one nice chance that was thwarted by the Jets goalie. Grubbe was a strong defensive force both at evens and on the penalty kill. He is a strong wall player for certain. Not much happened offensively which is a shame given he had Tullio and Petrov as linemates.
Matvei Petrov struggled again to make headway at 5v5. He had some nice moments on the powerplay, but he really needs to start asserting himself off the puck. He has the size and strength to go along with the great hands. He can be an impact forechecker. As more Jake Chiasson, he got lost again in the shuffle. Played third-line minutes with less skill and didn’t make a lot happen. I would like to see him with more skill in the next two games to see what he can do.
Well, that is all from game one of the Young Stars Classic. More to come when the Oilers play the Flames in their next tournament game. Hit me up on the X under @bcurlock, but assume that I am drinking red wine if you don’t here from me.

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