Welcome to another Oilers Sunday Census where we give the fans the chance to vote on all things Edmonton Oilers!
Given the Oilers’ cap situation heading into the 2023–24 season, it is inevitable that the team will be looking to prospects on entry-level deals to fill out a few roster spots. Some from last season, including Dylan Holloway and Philip Broberg, are more or less locks to make the team from camp.
But there are still a few open spots in the lineup for some other prospects to claim if they have a strong training camp.
This week, we asked the fans on Twitter which of the Oilers’ top prospects they thought would be the biggest standout in training camp. Let’s review the results and see who to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
Want to take part in Sunday Census polls? We send them out every week on our Twitter at @oilrigEDM. Follow along or send in ideas for the next poll!
Will Lavoie make the opening day lineup?
Leading this week’s poll is Raphael Lavoie, who received almost half of the votes.
There has been low-key hype around Lavoie for quite a while now in Oil Country. Edmonton’s 38th overall pick in the 2019 draft was seen as a highly touted, big forward who could score. Ideally someone who would be able to make use of the playmaking skills of the Oilers’ centre depth.
But his development has been a bit slow at times and often inconsistent. Though he has progressively gotten better each season, he goes through difficult stretches where the production is not there. On the other hand, he sometimes has streaks of scoring 15 goals and 31 points in 36 games.
Players of his archetype often are streaky, the scoring sometimes dries up for a while. But provided he can make use of the other tools in his game, such as his size and skating ability, Lavoie finds himself a frontrunner to make the team out of training camp.
Is Petrov going to be a draft steal?
Narrowly finishing second place in the poll is Matvei Petrov with one-fifth of the fan vote.
Petrov, a left-winger, was the Oilers’ sixth-round pick in 2021, going 180th overall. Early signs are showing that this was a fantastic pick.
After being drafted, Petrov came over to North America from Russia and joined the North Bay Battalion of the OHL. In 128 games, Petrov has 67 goals and 183 points. With 27 goals and 93 points in the 2022–23 season, he finished eighth in the OHL in scoring.
This type of scoring touch developing in the minors is incredibly appealing for a team always looking to find ways to improve its depth scoring. The Oilers need more options to create more offence throughout the lineup.
It may be preferential for his development to start with time in the AHL rather than jumping straight from juniors to the NHL. However, if he lights it up in the preseason, it may be worthwhile to let him hang around the NHL locker room for a bit for the experience as he adjusts to the professional game.
Will Bourgault keep trending upwards?
Another pick from the 2021 draft, Xavier Bourgault, finished third almost tying with Petrov.
Bourgault has shown some insane offensive talents through his time with the Shawinigan Cataractes in the QMJHL. With 186 points in 135 games during his final three seasons in junior, he stands out.
The jump from the junior level to the professional level is often a difficult one, many players struggle to adjust, especially their offensive game, in the season after jumping to the AHL. But Bourgault managed just fine in his rookie season with the Bakersfield Condors. 34 points in 62 games is perfectly reasonable production as a rookie and shows that he may have a very high floor to grow from.
Bourgault was drafted as a well-rounded offensive player. Someone who was speedy, had a good shot and scoring instincts, but also with enough offensive IQ to be a playmaker and play creator.
But something that is incredibly promising in his development is the growth on the defensive side of the game.
Bourgault could be a great addition to the middle of the Oilers’ forward group with his dynamic offensive talents but the appeal of adding a forward with some defensive instincts to those lines may give him an edge in the battle for a roster spot.
Will the wildcard Tullio find a way into the NHL this season?
Finishing last with about 11% of the vote is Tyler Tullio.
Another late round pick of the Oilers, going in the fifth round (126th overall) back in 2020, Tullio has been a great development story thus far in his career.
His final season in the OHL, 2021–22, he finished tied for 12th in the league in scoring with 42 goals and 86 points. He may not have been as productive in his rookie season with the Condors, but 13 goals and 26 points in 63 games is reasonable for a younger, smaller forward trying to adjust to the league.
It is most likely that Tullio spends another season in the AHL as there are other forward prospects who are closer to NHL-ready. But there is always a chance of someone having an incredible camp and earning a chance in the show, even for just a few games, as a reward.
Which Edmonton Oilers prospect do you think will be the biggest standout in training camp? Drop a comment down below or over on Twitter! Stay tuned there for next week’s Sunday Census poll.