Lowetide: Oilers’ top prospects impacted by struggles and injuries

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Edmonton Oilers 2023 second-round pick Beau Akey impressed everyone in the early rushes of the Penticton rookie camp and in the early days of his OHL season with the Barrie Colts.

News of his season ending after just 14 games, via Robin Brownlee, is a bitter pill for both player and organization.

The club’s 2021 first-round selection, Xavier Bourgault, had a strong start in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors but has faded since. When the youngster was on a line with veterans Sam Gagner and Lane Pederson, life was good. Gagner’s recall and Pederson’s injury meant more playing time for Bourgault with forwards like Drake Caggiula, and the pace has slowed considerably.

Here’s a look at the Oilers’ top prospects and how they’re doing so far this season.

Condors sophomores

The Oilers had a strong crop of rookies playing in Bakersfield one year ago. Bourgault and Tyler Tullio were solid regular wingers and Noah Philp filled a vital role in the middle on a feature line. Carter Savoie struggled with injury but showed flashes. One year later, things look less impressive.

Player EV Goal Share EV Pts-Game

Xavier Bourgault

50 pct (4-4)


Carter Savoie

67 Pct (2-1)


Tyler Tullio-injured

Noah Philp-retired

Bourgault’s first five games were strong, but since checking down to a line with Caggiula and Greg McKegg results have been less impressive. TSN’s Darren Dreger mentioned Bourgault as being a player of interest for the Montreal Canadiens earlier in November. It’s possible management will move on from him, although an upgrade in linemates would be a more logical plan.

Tullio is hurt and Savoie has had some injury issues again this season. Philp retired.

Part of the lack of prospect depth in the system comes from bad luck. This group of sophomores dwindled in a hurry. The Oilers badly need Bourgault to post a strong season, and it’s likely Pederson will emerge as his centre again in the days to come.

Condors rookies

This year’s rookie crop offers no first-round selections but has intrigue to it.

Player EV Goal Share EV Pts-Game

Jayden Grubbe

50 pct (3-3)


Max Wanner

43 pct (6-8)


Ethan de Jong (AHL deal)

67 pct (4-2)


Matvey Petrov

83 pct (5-1)


Big centre Jayden Grubbe is a perfect fit for organizational need at the pro level. He’s a right-handed centre who has two-way acumen and should have enough offence to fill a fourth-line role in the NHL eventually.

Max Wanner is a right-handed defenceman with a physical edge that puts him on a different level compared to other Oilers defensive prospects. He’s a shutdown type and has played a feature role often during the early days of his rookie season.

Matvey Petrov is an offensive winger who posted strong numbers two seasons in a row during his junior career. His arrival in the AHL has been marked by a lack of offence, but a surprisingly strong showing in even-strength outscoring. He did benefit from playing on a line with Raphael Lavoie and James Hamblin early in the season, but his awareness without the puck is on display. Bourgault displayed the same acumen a year ago, perhaps Petrov will emerge with a more substantial two-way game than anticipated.

Ethan de Jong is on an AHL deal but has shown well early in his Condors career. He could earn an NHL contract with a strong season.

Condors veterans

During the Ken Holland managerial era, in its fifth season, this is the area of the roster that gets the most attention in terms of NHL recalls. Players who have already spent time in the NHL season are noted with an asterisk.

Player EV Goal Share EV Pts-Game

Philip Broberg*

66 pct (4-2)


Cam Dineen

55 pct (6-5)


Markus Niemelainen

50 pct (5-5)


Ben Gleason

50 pct (5-5)


Noel Hoefenmayer

50 pct (5-5)


Phil Kemp

45 pct (5-6)


Alex Peters (AHL deal)

33 pct (1-2)


This is the defence. Philip Broberg, who has played four AHL and eight NHL games this season, is the class of the group by eye and by number. His mobility is an asset on offence and on defence, and his time in the AHL is coming to an end.

After that, it’s shades of grey in identifying the second-best blueliner on the roster. Considering the small sample, it’s clear more time is needed for anyone in the group to separate.

In viewing Ben Gleason, his skill set would seem to be the best match for the speed and puck-moving NHL style. Markus Niemelainen is the most dangerous defenceman in this group, although rookie Wanner is giving him a run for his money.

The veteran forwards are a different issue. The separation is clear now, even this early in the season.

Gagner, Hamblin and Lavoie are easily the class of the group, while the organization needs to be concerned about Seth Griffith and Caggiula based on results.

Player EV Goal Share EV Pts-Game

Sam Gagner*

100 pct (3-0)


James Hamblin*

78 pct (7-9)


Brad Malone

75 pct (3-1)


Raphael Lavoie*

56 pct (5-4)


Lane Pederson

50 pct (4-4)


Carl Berglund

50 pct (2-2)


Greg McKegg

42 pct (5-7)


Dino Kambeitz (AHL deal)

40 pct (2-3)


Adam Erne*

40 pct (2-3)


Cameron Wright (AHL deal)

40 pct (2-3)


Seth Griffith

33 pct (4-8)


Drake Caggiula

0 (0-3)


Among the group of forwards in this group who are still in the minors, Pederson is the most dynamic player. Previous to his injury, his line was scoring seemingly at will. His linemates (Gagner and Bourgault) benefitted heavily from playing with Pederson.

After that, the real issue for the team comes into view. Edmonton doesn’t have enough forwards of quality. That is apparent in the NHL, and in Bakersfield.

The only players who might have the kind of upside required to dominate in the AHL are either in the NHL (Gagner, Hamblin, Lavoie) or still emerging sophomores.

It’s a sticky wicket for all involved.


Olivier Rodrigue finished in the top 10 in AHL save percentage last season and owns a .942 save percentage this season in three games.

Calvin Pickard, recalled to Edmonton when Jack Campbell struggled, is at .939 in the AHL and has yet to play in the NHL this season.

Campbell is at .819 with the Condors.

The rest

The injury to Akey is a difficult one for the Oilers. The season has been trying at all levels, and the prospect pool is so poor losing anyone at the top end is devastating. If Akey can recover completely, no harm done. It’s a concern. He was the No. 4 prospect on my summer top 20 list and until his injury was under consideration for the top spot on the upcoming winter list.

Player League Details

Maxim Berezkin


Playing well, shooting more

Nikita Yevseyev


Playing less, good results

Shane Lachance


Scoring well as a freshman

Jake Chiasson


A quiet start to pro career

Matt Copponi


Over a pt-game, he is 20

Luca Munzenberger


EV goal share improving

Ryan Fanti



Tomas Mazura


Big centre emerging late

(Photo of Beau Akey: Jeff Vinnick / NHLI via Getty Images)

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