Welcome to another annual edition of a Copper and Blue tradition: the Top 25 under 25. Over the coming weeks, you will see one Oiler under the age of 25 (as of October 1, 2019) unveiled every day as we count down to number 1. Five of our staff carefully curated their top 25 lists with meticulous rating criteria. Follow along to see how everyone voted.
Today is the beginning of the list. We start with number 25, goaltender Olivier Rodrigue.
Let’s see how our panel cast their votes.
Rodrigue was drafted late in the second round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Rodrigue is the son of Sylvain “Sly” Rodrigue, who was last year’s goaltending coach in Bakersfield. The Oilers were high on Rodrigue, so high that they traded two picks in the 2018 draft to get up to Montreal’s pick at 62.
Rodrigue has just finished his third year in Drummondville (QMJHL), where he posted a sparkling 35-9-1 record. Thirty-five wins ties him for first in the league, helping propel the Voltigeurs to second place in their division. His .902 SV% was sixth in the league among goaltenders who played 40 games or more. Rodrigue was named the CHL’s goaltender of the week in January 2019. A core injury kept him sidelined for six weeks, he returned and suited up for three games in the playoffs. Rodrigue will find himself in Moncton in 2019-20 for his final year of junior hockey, as he was traded for a trio of draft picks this past June.
Rodrigue signed his entry level deal in late May, 2019.
WHY HE WAS RANKED 25
A butterfly goaltender, Rodrigue is fundamentally sound. He’s very quick, which is good when you’re in the business of keeping pucks out of your cage. Rodrigue stays on his skates more often than not, which is refreshing to see. Recent Oiler goaltenders have shown some insistence on dropping to their knees early, and Rodrigue seems well enough to not do that. He’s got all of the tools to become a future number one goaltender, his numbers will hopefully continue to improve as he progresses through his junior career. 2019-20 will no doubt be a big year for him as he begins a new chapter, this time in Moncton.
There’s some question about his size: he’s a 6’1” goaltender listed at 165. Some outlets have him listed closer to 155 than 165. He’ll likely want to put on some weight as he continues to mature through the system. I’ll start to worry if we’re having this conversation again in 2021.
TO BE CONTINUED
The Oiler goaltending stable is full of viable prospects. After Rodrigue, there’s Shane Starrett, Dylan Wells and Stuart Skinner. Rodrigue has one more year in the Q where he’ll continue to grow before his AHL career is scheduled to start. A successful season will see him continue to work on his angles and to successfully backstop Moncton to a long run in the QMJHL playoffs before heading to Bakersfield.
Will his stock climb in next year’s Top 25?