Edmonton Oilers: Top 10 prospects entering 2018

Ethan Bear #74 (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Ethan Bear #74 (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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edmonton oilers
Stuart Skinner #74 (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images) /

The Edmonton Oilers are a team that’s had a weird couple years. After an excellent 2016-17, making the second round of the playoffs, the Oilers were a bottom feeder, even with the best player in the NHL in Connor McDavid. Here are the prospects who can bring some consistency.

The Edmonton Oilers have a decent prospect pipeline. As a younger team, most of their best prospects have already moved on to the NHL. But there are some very excellent ones still remaining in the Canadian juniors and the AHL, as well as overseas. That includes previous high draft picks and ones from the late rounds.

These prospects are ranked on three factors: ceiling, NHL readiness, and the likelihood that they play with the Edmonton Oilers. The ceiling is chief amongst these. To qualify for this list, a prospect must not have played 25 games in the NHL at any point, the same qualification for the Calder.

Let’s start with the goaltenders.

1. Stuart Skinner [19] (3-78, 2017)

Stats (Lethbridge Hurricanes/Swift Current Broncos, WHL) 56 gp, .905 SV%, 3.07 GAA, 6 SO (26 pgp, 2.20 GAA, .932 SV%, 6 SO) [3 Memorial Cup games, 4.02 GAA, .902 SV%]

Stuart Skinner is still a few years away from being NHL ready. At 19, he will just be able to start playing for the Bakersfield Condors, and even then, it’s a crowded goaltending room with him, Al Montoya (or Mikko Koskinen) and Shane Starrett. Still, as the best AHL-qualified goaltender in the pipeline, Skinner will get starts at the professional level. That’s going to be a good thing for his development.

He’s somebody the Edmonton Oilers should be getting excited about

He was excellent in the second half of the season but started his first half out rough. With the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Skinner had a save percentage of .897 and a goals against average of 3.38. That’s why his average for the year was so low. He recovered quite nicely with the Swift Current Broncos, getting a 2.68 GAA and .914 SV%. He even led the Broncos to the Western Hockey League championship, getting a .932 SV% in the playoffs. That was the best save percentage of any goaltender with more than 20 minutes played.

He even won first star of the game in one of the Memorial Cup games the Broncos lost, making 54 saves on 56 shots. In the regular season, Skinner was second in shutouts in the regular season and first in the playoffs, both with six scoreless outings. He’s somebody the Edmonton Oilers should be getting excited about, especially if Cam Talbot doesn’t return to his 2016-17 form.

2. Olivier Rodrigue [18] (2-62, 2018)

Stats (Drummondville Voltigeurs, QMJHL): 53 gp, 2.54 GAA, .903 SV%, 3 SO (10 pgp, 2.50 GAA, .891 SV%).

4th goals against average (>2 games), ninth save percentage (>2) T-4 shutouts; 4th playoff GAA (>5), 8th best save percentage (>5)

Olivier Rodrigue was taken very high, being a second-round selection by the Edmonton Oilers. He was one of the best goaltenders available in the entry draft and did quite well in the QMJHL this past season. He was fourth in goals-against average (more than two games played), ninth in save percentage (more than two) and tied for fourth in shutouts. He earned starting minutes with one of the best teams, even as an 18-year-old netminder.

He was one of the best goaltenders available in the entry draft and did quite well in the QMJHL this past season

In the playoffs, Rodrigue faded a bit, but still had the fourth best goals-against average and the eighth best save percentage (both amongst goaltenders with more than five games). He didn’t come up with any shutouts, but he wasn’t bad either. Perhaps that’s why he’s one of the highest picked goaltenders but wasn’t deemed a top 50 selection.

Still, the confidence the Oilers have in Rodrigue as a second round pick is high, and while he’s even further away from the NHL than Skinner and has a similar ceiling, if he takes steps forward, he’ll likely be a member of the Edmonton Oilers’ battery at some point.