The Bakersfield Condors have gotten off to a good start by going 4–1–0 in their first five games. This is an update that will be done on the young prospects of the Condors roster.
Lavoie ready for the NHL
It’s been five games now for the Condors and Raphael Lavoie has picked up where he left off after last season. In fact, he’s gotten even more confident and consistent than last season. Lavoie has scored four goals and three assists in the five games he has played and, what is even more pleasing, is that they are not only goals on the power play. He has scored goals 5v5 as well and he has become a driver on the line he plays with.
The shot that Lavoie possesses is NHL calibre and it is way too hard to handle for the AHL goalies and defencemen. Lavoie registered two goals and an assist last game and got into a fight with one of the opposing players. Lavoie has now shown management that he is just toying with the AHL and he is more than ready to play in the NHL.
I have a hot take: Raphael Lavoie will be called up in the next two weeks.
Breakout season for Bourgault?
Xavier Bourgault has picked up his game after the first game of the season and he started to produce the way a young first-round pick should be. Ever since he got put together with Lane Pederson and, after getting ready to play, Sam Gagner, Bourgault has been very consistent, skilled, and offensive in the AHL. Bourgault has been getting ice time with Lavoie and they have created chemistry with one another as well.
The power play is not what is just impressive about the young player. What is getting more enticing about him is his chemistry with Pederson and Gagner. They’ve become a great second line and all are going a point per game. Bourgault, as I said last week, has been penalty killing a lot with Gagner and they have become very good at it. I believe Bourgault is very close to breaking out this season and there could be no better mentor and linemate for him other than Gagner. I am very excited to see how he plays on November 4.
With Gagner getting signed and called up to the Edmonton Oilers, and Pederson out week to week with injury, it will be very intriguing to see how Bourgault does without them. I believe he has just started to come on.
A great start to the season for Wanner
Max Wanner is one of the my favourites and most underrated prospects out of all of the Oilers prospects, and I have been very surprised with how he has started with the Bakersfield Condors… in a good way!
In the five games Wanner has played, he has scored one goal and one assist. He is also a +3 on the season with four penalty minutes. Wanner plays on the top pair with Cam Dineen and he has not looked overwhelmed or lost on the ice. He’s been physical and smart on the ice with his defensive play. He has been very impressive in his gap control and has been great in the corners. In my opinion, the best portion of Max Wanner’s game so far has been him keeping it simple. He has used his linemates to his advantage because he has not been overthinking the play. He hasn’t tried to do too much nor has he tried to do too little. He’s been very calm on the ice.
That is not to say Wanner hasn’t made some mistakes. In the first game of the back to back against Tucson, Wanner made some mistakes that we are easy to spot when scouting a rookie. He made some questionable pinches and passes in the neutral zone. He also made some passes that led to icing calls and also led to giveaways in the defensive zone. But, Wanner did not panic as much when he made these mistakes. Wanner got his first AHL goal and assist in these two games against Tucson and is now on a two game point streak
Injury causing Savoie a slow start
Unfortunately, Carter Savoie got injured at the start of the year so he was not up to his top level starting out. But, fortunately, Savoie has been very impressive since he got into the lineup. He has now been given top line minutes with Lavoie and James Hamblin and, in the five games he has played, he has now scored two assists. Savoie has been getting power play minutes as well.
Having only two points so far in the five games is not impressive, but it’s his play over the ice that’s been very good. Also, in terms of his points, it seems like he’s been getting unlucky in his chances and he has not shot the puck in shooting positions. Sometimes Savoie tries to do too much and then tries to pass the puck too much. He reminds me of how former Oilers winger, Ales Hemsky, would focus only on passing the puck.
But, he is still very young so he will continue to work on this. It’s still early and you can tell he’s got lots of skill and moxie. He’s got some grit to his game as well. His size is small, but Savoie has been showing that size does not matter. His puck battling has been impressive. We will see how he does after he is back from injury—he was injured against Tucson in the second back to back game.
Petrov rounding out well
Rookie Matvey Petrov has gotten a couple of points taken away from and he’s only gotten one point in the five games so far. Unimpressive right?
Wrong! Matvey has been off to a great start in terms of his play on the power play and 5v5 minutes. He’s been getting fourth line minutes and power play time. Why am I so impressed with this rookie? Petrov has been creating chances out of nothing with line mates Jayden Grubbe and Ethan de Jong. He has also been becoming a weapon on the second power play unit with the Condors. On the PP, he has been finding the open ice and soft spots in the high slot prepping his one timer and getting it off very quickly.
His shot is no surprise to some scouts but it has definitely been a surprise to the goalies in the AHL. It’s only a matter of time until the kid finds the back of the net and then moves up on the lineup. His 5v5 game has been surprising good. I thought, during week one, he may falter in his even strength play, but surprisingly he did not and his play in the corners and defensive zone has been very good.
Rodrigue’s fantastic play
One of my favourite prospects that has found his game in the AHL is Olivier Rodrigue. He has played two games so far and his goals against average is 1.00 and a save percentage of 0.968. He’s been very impressive in his starts so far. Rodrigue has been square to the puck and his athletic ability has been on display on some of the big saves he’s made so far.
Rodrigue’s glove hand is his best asset next to his ability to be square to the puck. He doesn’t stay deep in the crease, which is great to see. I have no doubt that Rodrigue will be an NHL goalie at some point. I believe this will be his breakout year that will have scouts take notice. He had a great season in 2022–2023 and I think this season he will take over the #1 job from Calvin Pickard. Rodrigue’s game kind of reminds me of Cam Talbot when compared to other Oiler goaltenders. I can’t wait to see him play his next game for the Condors. Will Stuart Skinner and Olivier Rodrigue be the Oilers eventual NHL tandem?
The Bakersfield Condors only play one game the coming week (game is on Saturday, November 04, 2023) so the next Condors update will be after next week’s games!