The Edmonton Oilers have been on a bit of a hot streak when it comes to drafting intriguing players out of the second round. The trend started back in 2016 when the team selected Tyler Benson with the 32nd pick and continued when they picked up Ryan McLead and Olivier Rodrigue in 2018. Yet, the most exciting player drafted in this round by the Oilers might be their 2019 selection: Raphael Lavoie.
The Chambly, Quebec native has shown a scoring touch during his four years in the QMJHL and has been scoring at a torrid pace in Sweden this season. Hopes are high for Lavoie coming into the season and some think that he may have leapfrogged a few older prospects on the depth chart already.
Let’s see where the Copper & Blue writers had him ranked on this year’s list:
An almost unanimous vote for the #8 spot marks a rare repeat for a prospect on this list. The most significant change in voting came from me, actually, as I had him at the 16 spot last year.
That should be ample preamble, let’s get into the nitty gritty.
Who Is Raphael Lavoie?:
Raphael Lavoie is a 20-year-old scoring winger who was drafted by the Oilers at pick #38 of the 2019 NHL Draft. Heading into the draft, Lavoie was expected to be a mid-first round pick but dropped significantly to Edmonton. At the time the selection was viewed as an absolute steal for the club, as it seemed as though Lavoie possessed enough talent to be considered a first round selection. One year later and that tune has not changed too much.
The first thing that pops out about Lavoie is his size. At the age of 20, he stands tall at 6 foot 4 and 205lbs. He most certainly has the size of an NHL player and it shows in his game. This type of stature lends well to Lavoie’s power-forward style of play. The second thing that pops out his ability to put pucks in the net.
He potted 73 points with the Halifax Mooseheads (QMHJL) during the 2018/19 regular season and added an eye-popping 32 points in 23 playoff games, 20 of which were goals. He continued to improve on those offensive totals in his D+1 season as he notched 82 points in 55 games split between Halifax and Chicoutimi. Pretty safe to sat he would’ve eclipsed 90 points if the season wasn’t interrupted by COVID.
In response to North American sports being put on pause, the Oilers loaned Lavoie to Rogle BK of the SHL on August 20th, 2020. He was able to appear in four preseason games but disappointed with only one assist. These lacklustre results, although expected of a young player turning pro, lead to him being cut from the team. This would eventually to the Oilers loaning Lavoie to Vasby IK in HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s second tier league.
It is here that Lavoie currently finds himself playing and he has been impressive to date. At the time of this writing, Lavoie is currently on a four game goal streak and has 11-5-16 in 21 games. Those 11 goals have him tied for third in goals in the league. Quite the impressive showing in his first professional season.
Where Does He Go From Here?:
In regular circumstances I would say that we would have to wait and see how he performs at training camp to really see if he is as close to making the NHL as his recent play has shown. Yet, because of the chaos that is COVID, there is a good chance he won’t get the chance to prove himself for the upcoming season. He will most likely spend the rest of the 2020/21 season playing for Vasby IK in Sweden.
If he continues to put the puck in the net at the professional level I do believe he will be given a serious look to crack the roster in time for the 2021/22 season. He is perhaps the team’s most prolific goal-scoring prospect and has the size to jump into the league and be a dominant power-forward. Of course, the battle will be an uphill one for him as he will have to jump over guys like Tyler Benson, Ryan McLeod, Joakim Nygard and Cooper Marody if he wants a chance at a consistent bottom six role.
The most likely outcome is that he comes into Bakersfield next season and the team plays it by ear from there. Lavoie has all the tools to become a goal-scorer at the NHL level and it seems that he has only gotten better each season after being drafted. If it all comes together the Oilers could have a very useful player on their hands.