The focus of the past couple of drafts for the Edmonton Oilers has been to load the system up with forward prospects.
Their entire draft class in 2020 was forwards, highlighted by No. 14 overall pick Dylan Holloway, and they again used their first-round pick in 2021 on a forward, this time Xavier Bourgault at No. 22 overall.
Evan Bouchard established himself as a top-four defenceman in 2021-22 and Philip Broberg doesn’t appear to be very far behind him, so the Oilers certainly aren’t devoid of quality young blueliners. But beyond those two, the young defencemen in the organization project more to be bottom-pairing depth types, so adding a blueliner with top-four potential could be a priority at the draft in Montreal this week.
If the Oilers opt to select a defenceman this year, one interesting prospect who might be available to them at No. 29 overall is Tristan Luneau, the top pick from the 2020 QMJHL draft.
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After a strong rookie season, Luneau had an operation done on his knee to treat a non-hockey injury that had been nagging him for years. The recovery process resulted in Luneau having a delayed start to his 2021-22 season and having to play catch-up, which has ultimately resulted in his draft stock falling from where it was expected to be.
Luneau was very good for the Gatineau Olympiques down the stretch and was the team’s top defender by the time the playoffs rolled around. He scored six points in seven playoff games and was tasked with shutting down the top forwards on the opposing team.
“He does everything 100 percent, whether it’s preparation, skating, shooting, his battle level. And he’s a student of the game. And for me, he’s got a team-first mentality. He’s a guy who took away flashiness for efficiency to help his game but also to help his team. And he knows by doing those sacrifices, that he gives back some points and that people who come to see him and see flashiness don’t always see it. But he’s dialled in in everything he does. And that’s why for me there’s no doubt that he’s going to have a long career and he’s going to be successful.”
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Though Luneau isn’t a prospect who boasts any elite skills, he’s very good at a variety of different things, including skating, making the first pass, and awareness in the defensive zone.
While teams might pause because of that knee operation, the package of skill, work ethic, and hockey IQ is hard to ignore. If he’s available to the Oilers at No. 29 (which seems realistic based on pre-draft lists) Luneau would give the Oilers something they don’t have in their system right now, which is a prospect who projects to be a top-four, two-way defender at the NHL level.
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Tristan Luneau

Position: Defenceman
Shoots: Right
Nationality: Canada
Date of Birth: January 12, 2004
Height: 6’2″ / 188 cm
Weight: 190 lbs / 86 kg

Scouting report…

“Luneau was the first pick in the 2020 QMJHL draft and looked like a surefire first-rounder through the Youth Olympics (where he was an alternate captain) and into his strong rookie season in the QMJHL (where he won the league’s defensive rookie of the year award). And while it took him some time to get back to that status after a knee procedure cost him his summer, his preseason, and the first three games of the regular season, he hit his stride in the second half and into Gatineau’s two-round playoff run, logging huge all situations minutes and contributing offensively while playing a matchup role against the opposition’s best. Luneau’s game isn’t dynamic, but he’s a smooth-skating (without being explosive, something some scouts worry about) right-shot defenceman who can competently run a power play, is a plus-level passer, has developed his shot into more of a weapon, and reads the play at as high a level as just about any defenceman in the draft (with and without the puck at both ends).” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
“With 43 points in 63 QMJHL games this season, Luneau continued on the path of showcasing he can be a solid two-way defenseman. His offensive tools are better than what he does defensively. The more I watched Luneau this season, I just felt like there was good-enough offensive skill and adequate defending. He did everything at a level that didn’t strike me as truly elite or high-end, but he did a lot of things well.” – Chris Peters, Daily Faceoff

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