There was a time in this fair land when the Edmonton Oilers prospect pool was second to none, at least in terms of very high picks.

The days of draft lotteries and an Edmonton prospect for every nation at the World Junior Championships are long gone. In fact, no Oilers hopeful made any national roster at this year’s just completed world juniors.

The prospects are few, the potential middling.

What’s more, many of the hopeful prospect forwards have made their way to the AHL Bakersfield Condors and are not performing as hoped in preseason prognostications.

Here’s an update on every Oilers prospect in the system.

RD Beau Akey, Barrie Colts (OHL)

Stats: 14 GP, 4-5-9

Akey is fast, skilled and one of the top prospects in the Oilers system. He suffered a season-ending injury (followed by shoulder surgery) 14 games into the OHL season. Akey was impressive at even strength (12-6 goals in the game state while he was on the ice) during those 14 games. This followed an outstanding training camp and preseason with the Oilers, which included a game with Edmonton against NHL competition. He is the No. 2 prospect in the system and could be the top hopeful by this time next season.

LW Maxim Berezkin, Lokomotiv (KHL) 

Stats: 44 GP, 6-16-22

Berezkin is a power-forward prospect who turned 22 in October. He has another year on his KHL contract. His totals this year (time on ice, shots per game) show slight improvement and he is third in team scoring. Foot speed is his issue, it’s impossible to know how much it will impede his NHL potential until he arrives in North America. He is No. 7 among Oilers prospects.

LC Carl Berglund, Bakersfield Condors (AHL) and Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL)

Stats: 3 GP, 0-1-1 (Bakersfield); 20 GP, 6-11-17 (Fort Wayne)

Berglund is 6-foot-2, 195 pounds and has a range of skills that includes solid work without the puck (2-2 goals at even strength in Bakersfield). Speed is a concern, and the majority of his time this season has been spent in the ECHL. Berglund turns 24 later this month; an NHL career appears out of his reach.

RW Xavier Bourgault, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 26 GP, 4-7-11

Bourgault’s scoring rate (0.42 points per game) is lower than his rookie year (0.55) and reflects a disappointing start to his second pro season. Bourgault’s even-strength goal percentage as a rookie was 60 percent (leading the club) but has regressed to 46 percent this season. Bourgault was a quality offensive option in junior with a reputation for being indifferent without the puck. His first season in Bakersfield was shy offensively but showed two-way ability. This season is a net negative. He badly needs to show well in the second half of the season and the organization should be concerned about the only first-round pick in the system. He appears to be stalling.

RW Jake Chiasson, Fort Wayne Koments (ECHL)

Stats: 27 GP, 1-3-4

Chiasson’s offence failed to develop during his two post-draft seasons in the WHL, so his meagre totals this season should come as no surprise. His even-strength goal share is also a concern. Chiasson has some good things on his resume (aggressive checker, good passer, works hard) but the boxcar numbers are poor and he’s playing in the lower tier of pro hockey this season. A discouraging start to his pro career.

RC Matt Copponi, Merrimack College (NCAA)

Stats: 18 GP, 4-17-21

Copponi’s offence was strong in his draft year and he is building on it in his junior college season. Size is the issue (5-foot-11, 167 pounds) but the skill set is undeniable and he has a chance. Copponi is 20, and a seventh-round pick in 2023, so expectations should be tempered. That said, he’s a skill forward posting impressive numbers while leading his Hockey East club in points.

G Nathaniel Day, Flint Firebirds (OHL)

Stats: 31 GP, 3.90 .861

Day is a bigger prospect (6-foot-3, 185 pounds at 18) who has yet to post a save percentage better than .884 in the OHL. He has an upright style that makes him look bigger in the net and needs to work on several things as a goalie prospect, via Brock Otten from OHL Prospects. He is a long shot and will need more games like his strong Friday night showing versus the Peterborough Petes.

LC Maxim Denezhkin, Yekaterinburg Automobilist (KHL) and Gornyak-UGMK (VHL)

Stats: 10 GP, 1-1-2 (Yekaterinburg); 6 GP, 3-1-4 (Gornyak)

Denezhkin is 23 now and has finally reached the KHL as something close to a regular. He has also performed in the VHL (Russian equivalent of the AHL) and it is unlikely he will play in North America based on his career trajectory. He’s a two-way centre.

LD Cam Dineen, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 20 GP, 4-3-7

Dineen arrived at the 2023 trade deadline in the trade that brought Nick Bjugstad to Edmonton (and sent away prospect Mike Kesselring). He’s a puck-moving defenceman who was partnered with rookie Max Wanner at the start of the season. Dineen was rumoured to be the recall choice when Philip Broberg was sent to the minors. Dineen has a 9-13 goal share at even strength (41 percent) and could see the Oilers roster in 2024.

G Ryan Fanti, injured

Fanti had offseason hip surgery and hasn’t been in evidence often this season. He is recovering and will be reassigned to Bakersfield when he’s ready to play later in the season. His absence comes at an interesting time for the organization’s pro goalie depth chart, as the injury is impacting his window of opportunity. His chief claim to fame remains an impressive performance in 2021-22 for the University of Minnesota Duluth.

LD Ben Gleason, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 16 GP, 5-7-12

Gleason was so impressive in preseason with the big club there was a real buzz about him. When the time came for a recall from the minors, Gleason was chosen. He did not see game action with the Oilers, but is the highest scoring defenceman in Bakersfield despite missing 10 games. He owns a 48 percent goal share at even strength and has been one of the best Condors defencemen this season.

RC Jayden Grubbe, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 26 GP, 5-2-7

In a season with plenty of disappointing prospect forwards, Grubbe stands out in a positive way. He has less skill than most of the young forwards in California, but wins battles, goes to the net and (so far) scores goals. His five even-strength goals this year rank him in a tie for No. 2 on the roster (AHL signing Cameron Wright leads with six). He has a 53 percent goal share at even strength and has contributed consistently.

F James Hamblin, Bakersfield Condors (AHL) and Edmonton Oilers (NHL)

Stats: 25 GP, 2-1-3 (Edmonton); 6 GP, 3-2-5 (Bakersfield)

Hamblin has emerged as a useful utility player capable of helping his line outscore in both leagues. In the AHL, he was on the ice for a 7-3 advantage at even strength. In Edmonton, he is 9-5 (64 percent) at five-on-five. His offence is shy in the NHL, but it’s hard to argue with his results. Hamblin is proving himself as an NHL option this season.

LD Noel Hoefenmayer, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 20 GP, 3-7-10

Hoefenmayer is as advertised. Owner of a rugged style and a powerful shot, he has a range of skills and can be deployed in any game state and play right or left side on a pairing. His offensive output is solid for a defender and his goal share at even strength (13-16, 45 percent) is about average compared to other Condors blueliners.

G Samuel Jonsson, BIK Karlskoga (Allsvenskan)

Stats: 3 GP, 3.75, .884

Jonsson is a massive goalie (6-foot-5, 201 pounds) who is stepping up to the Allsvenskan this season. The Swedish league has become legendary for developing talent despite being the second league in the country. Jonsson hasn’t played much, and is not doing well in the third league (HockeyEttan) so his season can’t be trumpeted as a major success. More playing time in the Allsvenskan, and with some success, would be welcome news.

RD Phil Kemp, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 26 GP, 0-5-5

It’s easy to overlook Kemp due to his defensive style, but there are things to recommend him. He’s a right-shot defenceman, he can defend and delivers surprising offence at the AHL level. He is a quality shutdown defenceman, suppressing opposition sorties with solid coverage. His even-strength goal share this season (15-10, 60 percent) reflects his mature play. Bakersfield has multiple worthy recall options, Kemp’s steady play makes him a factor.

LW Shane Lachance, Boston University (NCAA)

Stats: 17 GP, 7-6-13

Lachance is the selection used with the pick Edmonton acquired for the rights to John Marino. He is a big power forward (6-foot-5, 218 pounds) with enough talent to get power-play time on a talented college team. He has great hands (33 goals in his final USHL season) and the only worries are speed and signability. Edmonton’s trade of Reid Schaefer to the Nashville Predators at the 2023 deadline opens up an opportunity if Lachance signs in the next two summers.


Raphael Lavoie made his NHL debut in 2023-24. (Ryan Holt / Bakersfield Condors)

W Raphael Lavoie, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 20 GP, 10-6-16

In his most recent 66 AHL games, Lavoie has 32 goals. He is the most prominent first-shot scorer in the system and is averaging 3.7 shots per game and owns a 13.5 shooting percentage. He has played in his first NHL games and impressed more in his most recent call than in his first one. Lavoie’s shot will be useful in the NHL if he can establish himself in the league, and in the AHL he is more physical than he was in previous seasons. The Oilers are looking for big wingers who will drive to the net, and have one in Lavoie.

LW Jeremias Lindewall, Kalmar HC (Allsvenskan)

Stats: 16 GP, 1-2-3

Lindewall got off to a strong start in his draft year (4-4-8 for Modo in Swedish juniors on his draft day), a unique season in that players were active at the time of the draft. He had size (6-foot-2, 183 pounds) and qualified as a “draft and follow” selection. Edmonton hoped he would spike and become a steal. It has not come to pass.

LC Joel Määttä, Vermont (NCAA)

Stats: 12 GP, 1-1-2

There are elements to Määttä’s game that can be considered well above average. He’s dynamite in the faceoff circle, can help suppress offence and kills penalties. The worry is speed and offence, so this season’s low point total is a concern. He posted 14 points in 36 games a year ago, and that suggested a spike offensively. At 21, and with a low scoring total in his junior college season, Määttä should be considered a long shot to receive an NHL contract.

LC Tomas Mazura, St. Lawrence University (NCAA)

Stats: 15 GP, 3-7-10

Mazura is 23 and was drafted in 2019. Much of his post-draft career was dormant, but since transferring to St. Lawrence he has posted solid if unspectacular numbers (6-16-22 in 43 games). He is 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, and was a distant bell on draft day; he remains there now. He does appear he has spiked and the Oilers may decide to sign him. He is from Pardubice, Ales Hemsky’s hometown.

LD Luca Munzenberger, Vermont (NCAA)

Stats: 14 GP, 1-1-2

Tracking shutdown defencemen who play in the NCAA is an impossible task. There are no time-on-ice totals and “plus-minus” must serve as the goal share for even-strength play. If a player doesn’t score much in college, it’s tempting to write them off as prospects. Munzenberger has some things to recommend him. He is a powerful skater, played well at the 2022 World Junior tournament, and has improved during his three college seasons. His plus-minus by year is minus-17, minus-9 and this season plus-6. Edmonton has plenty of defencemen in Bakersfield, but Munzenberger has improved enough for an NHL contract. He has one more year of college eligibility.

LD Markus Niemelainen, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 18 GP, 0-2-2

Niemelainen played in the NHL during the last two seasons but has not yet made an appearance this year. That’s a reflection of being passed by other defencemen, not a reflection of his ability or performance. The big shutdown defender has good speed, is a frightening open-ice hitter and has been strong at even strength (11-10, 52 percent) save for a tough game last Saturday versus the Coachella Valley Firebirds. Niemelainen is a candidate for recall and may have some trade value at the deadline due to his 43 NHL games experience.

RW Matvey Petrov, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 17 GP, 2-1-3

Petrov might be the most intriguing prospect in the entire talent pool at this time. He isn’t getting much of a push in the AHL (there are so many young wingers) but has been responsible and shown flashes of offensive brilliance. His two goals have come in his most recent six games, and his even-strength goal share (9-2, 82 percent) is exceptional. He is playing more now and is a candidate to blossom in the second half of the AHL season.

G Olivier Rodrigue, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 12 GP, 2.48 .924

The biggest “feel good” story in the system this season is Rodrigue. Deployed in a backup role to start the AHL season, he impressed enough to get a real chance in net. When Jack Campbell was sent down, the organization gave the veteran most of the starts, while Rodrigue was brilliant in sporadic opportunities. Management finally recognized his development step and he is now the No. 1 goalie in Bakersfield. He is No. 3 in save percentage in the entire league and seems poised for his first NHL recall. A splendid development for a team in need of goaltending.

LW Carter Savoie, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 24 GP, 2-7-9

After a crushing series of injuries that defined his first year of pro hockey, Savoie appears to be healthy and the results have been strong. In his most recent 10-game run, Savoie has two goals and five assists. His trademark quick release has been in evidence, but even more impressive of late are his inspired passes to linemates for goals. He owns a 64 percent even-strength goal share after a recent spike. Edmonton has several young wingers pushing; Savoie has moved ahead of the pack in the last 10 games.

RW Brady Stonehouse, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Stats: 35 GP, 12-13-25

Stonehouse was an inspired signing by the Oilers out of training camp. Edmonton needs players, and Stonehouse combines skill, determination, speed and quickness. He’ll turn 20 in August and will turn pro. He could be the only player the organization graduates for 2024-25. He is not having an exceptional season, but his aggressive play and ability will be welcome in Bakersfield in the fall.

RW Tyler Tullio, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 12 GP, 2-4-6

Tullio was hurt to start the season and didn’t see game action until early December. He arrived with a flourish, posting three assists in three games, but has been quieter since. What’s more, his on-ice success numbers at even strength (4-8) trail the other young wingers. Tullio doesn’t have the dominant offensive skill set to warrant deployment when the other young wingers (Lavoie, Bourgault, Savoie, Petrov) are in use, so he needs to be responsible without the puck. Still a quality prospect, and a somewhat unique one on this team.

RD Max Wanner, Bakersfield Condors (AHL)

Stats: 26 GP, 1-2-3

Wanner has emerged as the AHL rookie who plays the most (over Petrov and Grubbe) and it’s easy to see why the organization likes him. Prone to rookie errors, he is learning and offers a rugged style from the right side that will get him a ticket to the NHL eventually if he continues. His even-strength totals (17-22, 44 percent) are shy, but he is 6-7 goals in the game state in the last seven games. That indicates improvement, and that he is playing a lot. Wanner is the one player in Bakersfield being fast-tracked.

LD Nikita Yevseyev, Bars Kazan (KHL and VHL)

Stats: 19 GP, 1-2-3 (KHL); 24GP, 1-6-7 (VHL)

Yevseyev has played in both of the top two Russian leagues this season, finding success in each. Over 19 games in the KHL, he is 9-7 even-strength goals and has been blocking shots at a high rate. He is a plus skater and has size (6-foot-1, 187 pounds). Like Berezkin, he has another year on his contract. If Yevseyev comes to North America, he will instantly become one of the best options for the Condors based on his experience and skills.

Summary

Not listed are Broberg and Dylan Holloway, who have graduated as prospects. Also not listed is Noah Philp, who has retired.

This prospect group feels different, partly because there is no impact player at the top of the list to drive the verbal.

Bright lights include Akey (who is out for the season) and the two Russians (Berezkin and Yevseyev).

In college, Copponi appears to have a chance while Lachance is having a strong freshman season with an impressive club. He’s getting significant playing time, which is a positive.

In Bakersfield, Rodrigue is a sensational story. Lavoie has made the NHL grade and continues to push, Savoie seems to have found the range and Petrov is showing signs of life. Wanner is developing in a hurry and Grubbe is showing well in Bakersfield.

Hamblin appears to have made the NHL.

Downbeats are led by Bourgault’s mystifying season and followed up by questions about Tullio, Fanti, Chiasson, Day and Määttä.

There are miles to go.

(Photo of Xavier Bourgault: Darcy Finley / NHLI via Getty Images)

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