I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little excited for draft season. Outside of the playoffs, which were absolutely fantastic for Oilers fans this spring, the NHL draft is my favourite time of the year. Hope abounds in all 32 fanbases as they watch their teams select the players of the future. It’s great fun all around and a very hard event to be negative about...at least during the times before your favourite team picks.
The Edmonton Oilers and their fans are no stranger to this feeling. In fact, they might be the only fanbase in the league that is sick of feeling hope around this time of the year. Yet, due to a season that saw the team reach the Conference Finals for the first time since 2006, this one will have a bit of a different vibe. Instead of tuning out of the first round after the first 15 picks, fans will have to stick around to see who the Oilers draft at pick #29.
It will be the latest the Oilers have had to wait in the draft since...well ever. The only other time they had to wait this long to make their first pick (granted that they had a pick in the first round) was back in 2003 when the club selected (soon-to-be Stanley Cup Champion?) Andrew Cogliano 25th overall.
So this pick will hold a bit of a unique space in the realm of Oilers trivia and if it happens to be the player highlighted in this profile it is sure to be a fun one. Alright, enough preamble, let’s get to know more about Jagger Firkus.
Who Is Jagger Firkus?
Jagger Firkus is a 5’10” 154lb centre/right-wing with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. A homegrown product of Irma, Alberta who cut his teeth in Lloydminster before bursting into junior hockey full-time in 2021/22.
Though he may not be the brooding power forward that so many teams covet, there is no doubt about Firkus’ skill in the offensive end. In just 66 games with the Warriors, he was able to put up 36 goals and 80 points to lead the team. He added 12 more points in 10 playoff games for good measure.
Perhaps his most noteworthy moment of the previous season was an outstanding performance at the CHL Top Prospects Game. Despite lining up on Team White’s third line, Firkus was able to make his presence known. He had a highlight-reel goal late in the first period that saw him cut to the middle on a rush and wire a laser over the glove of Ivan Zhigalov. He ended the game with a goal and an assist to help his team secure a 3-1 victory.
With that, let’s see what the scouting reports have to say about him...
Sam Cosentino (Sportsnet): “A cool customer with a high compete level. He’s never deterred despite his slight stature (5-foot-10, 154 pounds). His shot and release are something to behold”
Corey Pronman (The Athletic): “Firkus’ skill and creativity stand out consistently. He shows great ability to beat defenders one-on-one with his stickhandling. He can make tough passes at a high rate through seams and under pressure.”
Ben Kerr (LWOS): “Firkus is a real boom or bust prospect. He has high-end offensive skills and if those translate to the pro game, he can become a top-line winger at the next level. While he has played both right-wing and centre in the WHL, the lack of dynamic speed and the limits of his size means that he projects as a winger at the pro level.”
Anton Rasegård (EyesOnThePrize): “Jagger Firkus is by no means a perfect prospect at this point. His lean build and hesitance to play a physical game can to some extent be covered up by his awareness and stick control, but that’s at the CHL level. His skating is good enough to get by at a higher level, but not something which is categorized as one of his main strengths going into the draft.”
The consensus surrounding Firkus seems to have him going late in the first round or early in the second. With the numbers he put up last season you think it would be a bit higher but there is some very valid concerns surrounding him.
Paramount among them is the fact that he hasn’t shown an ability to carry this high level of play through multiple seasons. He put up just 16 points in the 35 WHL games he played before this season and wasn’t on the radar of scouts before this year. His skating is also seen as below average for his level and, of course, his size and hesitancy to play physically could also prove to be a problem as he progresses to the pro level.
A contending team looking for a piece in a future rebuild might take a chance on him as he probably has a few years at least until he is able to seriously contend for an NHL job. It’s hard to say exactly where he will go but he will definitely be around the area of Edmonton’s selection.
How Does He Fit?
Early on in my research of Firkus, I had a hard time separating him from a current Edmonton Oilers: Kailer Yamamoto. Both are/were undersized wingers who showed offensive talent and a knack for getting on the scoresheet. But there are some key differences between the two players.
Yamamoto was excellent at getting in the right positions to score and creating opportunities for himself while Firkus relies on an explosive shot and a silky set of hands to get his opportunities. Watching a highlight reel will show some of the crazy stuff the kid can pull off at game speed, which of course includes a Michigan goal. His raw offensive tools are NHL-ready. The thing that will be holding him back is the rest of his game, which could take a few years to fully develop and mature.
What you can compare between the two players are their competitive nature. Both are determined players that bring a lot of intensity to the game in their own unique ways.
I definitely see the appeal in Firkus and a fit for a high-powered Oilers team. I’m hesitant to say he would provide immediate help but I could definitely see him pushing to make the team in time for the 2024/2025 season at the earliest. Perhaps as a trigger-man for a skilled third-line alongside Ryan McLeod before moving to a top-six spot?
The right side isn’t well-defined for the Oilers outside of Yamamoto and Zach Hyman (if they choose to play him there). If the team decides to trade Jesse Puljujarvi this offseason the need for young talent in the position will be needed.
Jagger Firkus should definitely be considered at #29.