One of the interesting conversations that came out of yesterday’s post was what ‘reasonable’ might look like for a player like Raphael Lavoie. Oilers fans sat through half of the first round and some of the second saying their Hail Marys in an effort to will the last pure shooter in the draft to Edmonton. Since then, scouting director Tyler Wright has added shooters great and small and we’ll see how they shine.
Do Oilers fans overrate the team’s prospects? Of course. By how much? Well, let’s have a look.
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Let’s have a chat
When talking about prospects, I like to go back to the beginning. Raphael Lavoie was ranked No. 16 by Red Line Report, who pull no punches with their rankings and scouting reports. Red Line did call him a polarizing prospect and a boom or bust player. They liked his size, skill and smarts, and our friend Scott Wheeler at The Athletic wrote a couple of brilliant articles detailing Lavoie’s sneaky, quick and deadly shot. Red Line projected him as a second line scoring winger and a power-play performer for a good team. That’s a nice scouting report, especially from a resource that has proven to be right many times over the years.
The issue surrounds expectations. Some fans immediately think “Alex DeBrincat” when looking at Lavoie’s numbers and I think of Brad Isbister and still others land in between. It’s impossible to draw a consensus but maybe we can get more people on the same page is it pertains to Lavoie’s possible future. Below are the goal-scoring NHLE numbers for four men, all in junior and then noted when hitting pro. The NHL numbers have not been adjusted per 82 games:
I like to pick a range of players (not usually this wide) in order to give us some ideas of possible outcomes. I think we can discount DeBrincat starting at 16 as a comparable for Lavoie, but Saad is a bit of a different comp. Through the seasons listed here, Lavoie is at least in the conversation with Saad. It’s important to note that the big winger posted a season of 20+ goals before the end of his entry deal, so there’s a chance Lavoie loses him in the next couple of years. But he’s in the conversation.
I used Isbister (over Ethan Moreau) because his skill set is a little closer to Lavoie. Both are big men, love shooting the puck, scored some goals and were willing to go to the front of the net. I think this is a good way to look at comparables, in this case using NHLE for goals.
Now each of the three names above saw NHL action in age 20 seasons. Lavoie is (by my depth chart based on likely training camp roster) the No. 8 left-winger and No. 6 right winger on this list. Right wing would be the clearest path, and honestly it isn’t impossible to project Lavoie for a cup of coffee in 2021-22. But nine or 10 goals? That’s a distant bell.
Ryan McLeod is my choice among the AHL players one year ago who has the best chance to be an NHL player for more than a few games. I’m not certain he makes the jump completely this year, but a quick look at some comparable players is encouraging.
I would caution about McLeod’s offense in the AHL this past season, it was the Pacific Division and the level of competition had a wider range (imo) than you would see in a normal year.
That said, McLeod shows well (if a little shy) compared to his brother, and 15 points for the young Oilers center this season is a reasonable expectation. Faksa is interesting because there was a time when the expectation for offense was higher, but he’s settled in as a consistent performer (while also being an effective player away from the puck).
I threw Cogliano in as an old timey comp, we see how his career developed. I would say that Cogliano looked more dynamic at age 20 when he arrived in the NHL, but quickly settled in at Faksa-levels.
Is McLeod a 30-point player annually? We’d have to take a longer look, and the most recent season likely overstates his offensive potential.
There’s not much doubt he’s going to play in the NHL. The Oilers don’t have many of those players.