The Edmonton Oilers have some holes to fill by young players who are hoping to make an impact like the last batch of prospects to make the jump to the NHL. Last season, we saw Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod play very well, and now the team has three more players, one at each position, who should be able to come into a full-time role and contribute as well. More so than most other teams, it is pretty clear cut as to which three prospects will get their shot with the Oilers next season.
Dylan Holloway, the Oilers’ 2020 first-round draft pick, should easily make the team out of training camp. Not only have the Oilers cleared a bit of space in their bottom-six, but he should have competed for a spot on the opening night roster last season if he hadn’t been injured.
Holloway was finally given a chance to play for the Oilers in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final in his first NHL game, but by that time it was too late for Edmonton to come back from a 3-0 deficit. He wasn’t given much playing time, but in an elimination game, that’s understandable. As many were saying, he should have gotten his chance much sooner.
Spending his first season as a pro in the American Hockey League (AHL) upon returning from injury in 2021-22, he started slow but ended up playing very well, scoring eight goals and 22 points in 36 games. As far as prospects go at the forward position, he is next up and the Oilers appear to be leaving a spot for him in their bottom six. Holloway should slot into the third line as he has great speed and can utilize it beside McLeod who has similar skating ability. There will be a lot less pressure for Holloway to really begin his career for the Oilers in the regular season with more opportunity to succeed.
The Oilers saw Duncan Keith retire and the team just re-signed Brett Kulak, leaving a hole on the second/third left defence pairing for Philip Broberg to come into a full-time role with the Oilers. He did see 23 games with the team last season due to the injuries on defence that had piled up. He started by playing above his weight class and being thrown right into the fire to playing significantly fewer minutes, before being sent back down to the AHL.
Just like how Bouchard stepped up and came into his own in his first full season in the NHL, the hope is that Broberg can do the same. Kulak is signed to a great deal that could see him fit in on the second pairing or have him slide down and play alongside Tyson Barrie. I assume Broberg will start out on the third pairing with Barrie and play less significant minutes so that he can get more of a feel for the NHL. But even by the end of next season, unlikely but still possible, we could see him be an impactful presence on the backend both offensively and defensively, bumping him up to the top-four.
Broberg played very well in the AHL when he was playing for the Bakersfield Condors in 2021-22, scoring four goals and 23 points in 31 games. Top drafted defencemen like him are generally in the NHL sooner than later, and after three years of development in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and AHL, he’s ready for the next step in joining the Oilers for the entire season where there’s a spot waiting for him.
Stuart Skinner, the Oilers’ most promising goaltending prospect, has paid his dues in the minors over the past four seasons and developed nicely. The Oilers didn’t rush him to the NHL, but now that he is waiver eligible and they can finally mold the goaltending how they want, he will be the backup to Jack Campbell next season.
Skinner has played 14 total games for the Oilers. One came in 2020-21, while he had more of an opportunity to play last season getting into 13 games and performing well. At the time he was sent down, he had the best save percentage (.911) and goals against average (2.62) of the three Oilers’ goalies and realistically should have been kept around.
In 2022-23 he will get the opportunity to be the full-time backup for the Oilers where there’s not a ton of pressure on him to perform. Last season he came in when there was an injury to Mike Smith and Skinner took the reins since Mikko Koskinen was also struggling. He has more than proven himself in the AHL where he had a .920 SV% last season and five shutouts. There is also no room for him there anymore because the Oilers have taken measures to have him as the backup for the 2022-23 season (from “Lowetide: Stuart Skinner’s rise to Oilers shows value of homegrown goalies”, The Athletic, 7/15/22).
Every contender needs players either on entry-level deals or cheap contracts that perform above their paygrade. The Oilers are going to be contenders and they will have multiple rookies/young players who should be able to contribute and make an impact for them next season.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News, trade talks, and daily betting guides.
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