Raphael Lavoie finally has his breakout game
2 months ago
For the first time in a while, the competition for spots in the Edmonton Oilers lineup is pretty limited. In fact, the only real battle is for the 12th forward spot and who ends up grabbing it remains to be seen.
Ken Holland allowed a handful of players to try and prove themselves with Raphael Lavoie, Lane Pederson, and Drake Cagguila all signed to contracts while also giving Brandon Sutter and Adam Erne professional tryouts. Over the last week or so, the numbers have really slimmed down with Cagguila going to the Bakersfield Condors and Sutter announcing his retirement after an extended battle with the lingering effects of long-term COVID.
Through the first handful of pre-season games, the competition looked bleak as nobody was really able to grab the bull by the horns and run with the opportunity. With only one game left in the pre-season, Lavoie and Erne have each found the back of the net while Lane Pederson had only registered a few PIMs before last night’s matchup with the Flames.
This past week, Luke Gazdic joined us on Oilersnation Everyday and expressed his disappointment in the competition.
“I’ve been a little disappointed in this competition. (Jay) Woodcroft has put them in different positions, but not one guy that has taken over with only two games left in the pre-season,” said Luke Gazdic. “I think they have all brought different things to the table. Lavoie, for me, is the big thing. Everyone is talking about the waiver wire, but teams and fans overvalue their players, thinking looks at all bright spots and how it’s a waiver claim waiting to happen.”
“I would have loved Lavoie to be a bit more physical for his size,” continued Gazdic on Lavoie’s play this pre-season. “He gets in their forecheck and the battle, but I wanted to see him drive F1 and put the defenceman through the wall. It’s disappointing to me that with the mindset that they knew there was a job up for grabs and nobody has won the job.”
Well, Lavoie must have listened to the show because, on Wednesday night, the second-rounder from 2019 finally looked like a guy who’s playing his way onto an NHL roster.
The Oilers dominated the Calgary Flames 7-2 at Rogers Place, with Lavoie closing out the scoring with his second of the pre-season. Granted, the Oilers were facing a weak Flames lineup with few NHLers dressed, but give credit where credit is due because Lavoie showed up.
Lavoie was physical, showed good puck skills, and a strong determination to make himself a threat. He did all that in under 14 minutes of ice time with most of it coming in the third period once the game was out of reach. Additionally, he spent the bulk of his night with Mattias Janmark and Adam Erne.
The biggest thing Gazdic wanted to see was more physicality from Lavoie, even going so far as to suggest that once he found that side of his game, he could thrive, which is precisely what happened against the Flames.
Consistency will be everything for Lavoie this season, and he will likely have his struggles like every rookie. Lavoie needs to show progress again on Friday if he plays against the Seattle Kraken, however, he finally revealed what tools are in the toolbox, which was a pleasure to watch. Having a player of his skillset and uniqueness in the bottom six can only help the Oilers’ depth scoring.
Now to wait and see if the coaching staff feels the same.
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