Background and Introduction
Raphael Lavoie was selected by the Oilers 38th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft; Lavoie had been projected to be a first round selection and so the Oilers were praised for picking him up at 38. In his draft year, Lavoie had an excellent season with the Halifax Mooseheads which culminated in a Memorial Cup appearance and 73 points in 62 regular season games. He added 22 playoff points in 23 playoff games, making him one of the top performers of the QMJHL playoffs during the 2018-2019 season. Lavoie added a gold medal in the U-20 World Juniors in 2020, the last World Juniors tournament before COVID impacted the effect.
Since his draft, Lavoie spent one more year in the QMJHL and added a gold medal in the U-20 World Juniors in 2020, the last World Juniors tournament before COVID impacted the effect He then spent part of the COVID impacted season with Vasby IK in the Swedish first league. Lavoie had considerable professional success with Vasby IK. He recorded 23 goals and 22 assists for 45 points in 51 games. His success in Sweden may have been part of the reason Lavoie didn’t seem to return as quickly as many Oilers prospects in Europe.
Lavoie returned to the AHL for the shortened season. However, he wasn’t able to replicate his previous high scoring ways upon his return to North America. In his rookie season, Lavoie managed 5 goals and 5 assists in 19 games. But there seems to be a bit of a rebound in the AHL playoffs where Lavoie had 4 points in 6 games. Which is slightly better than his regular season average. It’s not a large different, but it is an interesting element to the end of Lavoie’s season.
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Wow everyone… the Copper and Blue staff are more optimistic about Lavoie’s upside again. That’s just weird. But both groups have Lavoie placed as a solid prospect who could be important to the Oilers future success.
Why He Made the List
Lavoie at 6’4” and about 200lbs has all the physical tools to be an NHL player. He is just 21 (his birthday will be the day after this piece is published so let’s just say he’s 21) and so he has time to address weaknesses in his game.
Lavoie can play as either a centre of a winger, depending on how the team needs him to be deployed. However, it seems that Lavoie is best suited to the role of goal scorer instead of playmaker. With a highly touted release and the physical tools to protect the puck and make an impact in the corners.
Lavoie is touted as being able to score and be a threat from most places in the offensive zone as well as for his ability to dominate the play. Lavoie is one of the Oilers prospects who seems to posses the vision needed to be in the right position to make a play, even if he’s not driving the play. He is able to do things like transition through the neutral zone well and find open space to try to make something happen. Considering his young age, Lavoie is definitely one of the Oilers prospects who seem to have more potential to stick at the NHL level.
Why He Made the List at 6
There are couple reasons that Lavoie isn’t higher on the list and they can be summed up by criticisms that Lavoie lacks consistency away from the puck. Lavoie, some critics, believe will need to increase his physical play to manage the levels of physicality expected in the NHL, especially as he’s not seen as a top six forward unilaterally.
Lavoie’s ranking is primarily based off the expectation he’ll make good on the potential that many see. In the summary of Marody, I argued that Marody was 11th in part because the Oilers knew what they were getting. The ceiling was low but they also weren’t likely to crater. A nice amount of certainty. Lavoie is the exact opposite type of pick. He’s got all the tools for the Oilers to have a potential top six NHL player on their hands, but it’s too early to tell. He is a player the Oilers rightly expect big things from, but as a 21 year old prospect may not get the results they’re expecting.
With his first full season in the AHL coming up, it will be an opportunity for Lavoie to move his ranking up the list, prove that he is one of the Oilers top prospects, or begin the process of becoming a stepping stone over which new and younger prospects are judged. His current strong showing at the Oilers prospect camp is a good start.