Edmonton Oilers 2021 draft wrap: A mishmash of prospects and projects in a difficult draft cycle

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Edmonton Oilers entered the 2021 NHL Draft with just five selections but wound up with six, acquiring the #90 overall selection in return for downgrading their first-round pick two spots from #20 to #22.

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The Oilers stayed on the straight and narrow in Round One, drafting right-shot centre Xavier Bourgault from the Quebec League, then spent much of Day 2 straying far from the board. In fairness, “the board” itself was not the fount of conventional wisdom it usually is, given the limitations of a season that saw many development leagues greatly curtailed if not shuttered altogether. It was an extremely challenging set of circumstances for hockey scouts industry-wide.

The club followed its well-established practice of picking more mature prospects in the early going, as both of their top two choices were “late birthdays”. It was the seventh time in the last twelve drafts and the fourth in the last five that Edmonton has picked a late birthday in the first round, about double the rate which would be expected by random distribution.

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Overall the club chose two centres, two wingers, and two defencemen, after first turning down the opportunity to draft highly-rated goaltender Jesper Wallstedt with their original #20 pick. That decision led to predictable hue and cry in Oil Country, where the idea of drafting a “franchise goalie” had gathered plenty of momentum. Whether Wallstedt will turn out to be one, of course, is a question that is years away from an answer.

Here’s the 2021 crop, which includes the first players named Xavier, Luca, Matvei or Maximus to ever be drafted by the club:

Capsule summaries and scouting reports for all of those players are provided below, along with links to full prospect summaries:

1st round, #22 overall: RC Xavier Bourgault

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Bourgault’s eye for the net can be rated 20/20, which matches his goals and assists totals in just 29 games for Shawinigan. This after posting solid numbers of 33-38-71 in 63 games in his Draft -1 campaign. He’ll turn 19 in October, meaning just one more year in the Q before he’ll be ready to turn pro.

  • “Having just concluded his third year in the QMJHL, Xavier Bourgualt has already developed into a player who dedicates himself to reliability and consistency. His blend of technical and cognitive strengths result in a player who consistently creates synergy among his linemates and he is capable of elevating his play to exceed and overcome the style of his opponents. On an individual basis, his strengths manifest in an ability to be highly evasive, both while carrying the puck and while seeking opportunities away from the puck. His versatility in terms of playing all three forward positions also adds to his value.”
    Dobber Prospects

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3rd round, #90 overall: LD Luca Münzenberger

The big defender made a strong impression at the World Juniors in Edmonton, where the German national team made a strong comeback to qualify for the medal round after suffering a significant COVID outbreak that left them severely short staffed for the opening games.

  • “Once Germany got a full lineup, it was a lot easier to get a feel for the talent on the squad. One beneficiary might be Munzenberger, a big, sturdy kid who is committed to the University of Vermont and currently playing in Germany’s junior league.
    ‘We’ve watched him this year and talked about him,’ said one scout. ‘But to see him come over and play in this tournament – which for draft eligible players is the mecca – he came in and held his own. He was easy on the eyes.’
    ‘He was another guy who grew on me as the tournament went on,’ said another scout. ‘A little on the rugged side and he made that good first pass. He wasn’t on our radar prior to the tournament but he showed well and looks like a draft.’
    — Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News

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4th round, #116 overall: C/RW Jake Chiasson

The first of two selections from the WHL, a league in their own backyard the Oilers haven’t drafted from in several years. He had a decent if truncated campaign with a strong Brandon Wheat Kings club, posting 9-11-20, +12 in 23 games.

  • “Chiasson isn’t a shoot-first winger and has some creativity and a strong passing game, but he’s also useful off the puck by jamming the net and getting under an opponent’s skin without taking a penalty. Chiasson moves well and can accelerate to top speed in only a few strides while maintaining control of the puck. He also has sharp hand-eye coordination to handle crisp passes from in close.”
    — The Draft Analyst

6th round, #180 overall: LW Matvei Petrov

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The one player among those picked who “fell” to the Oilers, Petrov was ranked inside the top 100 by many services including TSN’s Bob McKenzie (#92), TSN’s Craig Button (#70), Dobber Prospects (#71), and FC Hockey (#57) to name a few.

  • Petrov is an energy winger. He’s extremely competitive, and it makes everyone around him better. Pure natural scoring touch. His shot is a rocket, his one-timer is a true weapon, and his wrister is dangerous from long range. Straight line speed is impressive, doesn’t have darting ability but is well-balanced. Strong, not easily knocked off the puck. Not a high level playmaker, but creates opportunities from his shots. Defensively, Petrov is reliable. While not the flashiest of players, Petrov does a lot of little things right, and combined with his scoring touch, give him NHL potential.
    Draft Pro

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6th round, #186 overall: LW Shane Lachance

The son of long-time NHLer Scott Lachance and the grandson of legendary college coach Jack Parker, the big left winger has hockey bloodlines on both sides of his family. Already listed at 6’4 before his 18th birthday, Lachance has projectable size but needs time grow into his frame. Scouting reports suggest he has a good head for the game but his legs need time to catch up. A project who falls under the general header of “draft and follow”.

  • “A big strong left winger, playing for the Junior Bruins out of the Boston area. Gets to the net, can really get into those tight areas and make things happen. The question mark for Shane will be, can his skating improve to the point where those other things make a difference.”
    — E.J. Hradek, NHL Network

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7th round, #212 overall: RD Maximus Wanner

Oilers followed their recent penchant for drafting big right-shot defencemen at the back end of the Draft, a list that in recent years includes Vincent Desharnais, Philip Kemp, and Michael Kesselring. Just turned 18, Wanner is already 6’3 and may not be done yet.  He’s certainly not done developing, having played just 22 games of major junior to this point with low-event boxcars of 0-5-5, +2. He’ll get two more seasons with Moose Jaw Warriors to make his case for a pro contract.

  • “Wanner, who hails from Estevan but has since moved to Moose Jaw, was one of the longest of long shots to be drafted after being ranked 223rd on the final CSB list. No matter, as his meteoric rise in the hockey world continued on Saturday. The Warriors’ rookie played 17 games while battling an injury in the East Division hub and picked up four assists while finishing the season as one of only four Warriors with a positive plus-minus at plus-two.” — Moose Jaw Today

The Cult of Hockey on the 2021 Draft

Draft picks:

Other Draft-related posts:

Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

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