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The Oilers need to give Raphael Lavoie an opportunity

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Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Liam Horrobin
3 months ago
Raphael Lavoie is a name fans in Edmonton have become more familiar with over the last few months.
The decision to send him through waivers and down to the Bakersfield Condors after training camp left this city in arms. Many labelled his pre-season as tremendous, but a more reasonable tag is a progressive development.
Either way, Lavoie returned to the big club following a great start to the American Hockey League season. The former second-round pick scored four goals and seven points in five games and was named the AHL Player of the Week. Then, a few injuries happened in Edmonton, leading to his recall.
The offence has yet to translate to the NHL level, as Lavoie has been held off the scoresheet through his first six career games in the big leagues, but he’s done well with his opportunities. Lavoie has spent most of his time on the fourth line playing alongside his Condors teammates James Hamelin and veteran Derek Ryan. To get the best out of Lavoie, they need to move him away from those two and give him an opportunity with real NHL players.
Lavoie has had his moments offensively, especially in the last couple of games. He’s been able to create a couple of opportunities but is still adapting to the limited space in the NHL. It isn’t helpful that he is the only legitimate threat to score goals on his line.
On Monday, Dylan Holloway left the game versus the New York Islanders with a suspected knee injury. That was all but confirmed the following day when Kris Knoblauch declared him out on a week-to-week basis. Without Holloway, Knoblauch elevated Derek Ryan to the third line with Ryan McLeod and Warren Foegele and then slotted Adam Erne on the fourth line with Hamblin and Lavoie.
The third line played okay but was outscored 1-0 at 5-on-5. As for Lavoie’s line, the three of them struggled to generate any offence, registering zero shots for and three against. Lavoie didn’t play longer than a minute with another forward outside of Erne and Hamblin.
With this five-game road trip coming and Holloway’s absence, it may be an opportunity for Lavoie to climb up the lineup. The third line with Forgele and McLeod would be an excellent spot for the Oilers forward to showcase his offensive abilities. The only obstacle in his way may be the return of Connor Brown.
Jason Gregor said today on Oilersnation Everyday with Tyler Yaremchuk that he believes Brown will initially start on the third line. However, he thinks it would be in the Oilers’ best interest to move him up to the top line, replacing Sam Gagner sooner rather than later.
The question then comes, where does Gagner play? While still capable of playing in the NHL, Gagner can be playing up to 1o to 12 minutes a night. The Oilers need to allow Lavoie to get comfortable in the NHL, and the opportunity is right there for them to give it to him.
Edmonton needs more depth scoring, and Lavoie can provide that. All he needs is the chance to prove it.

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