Lowetide: Making the early call on the Edmonton Oilers’ 2019 NHL Draft haul

The Edmonton Oilers enjoyed something close to a full boat of draft picks in 2019, missing only the team’s fifth-round selection.

There is talent in the group chosen four years ago, but the development timeline is slower than normal across all six picks.

Part of that comes from general manager Ken Holland’s famous slow-playing prospects, something that impacted the 2018 draft. Evan Bouchard played 102 NHL games in his first four seasons after draft and then played 82 in 2022-23. Ryan McLeod played 81 in his first four seasons but added 57 in the fifth year.

Mike Kesselring, a later selection, didn’t make the NHL in his first four seasons but found his way (nine games) to the big leagues in 2022-23.

The 2019 draft boasts two players who have spent time in the NHL and there is promise in the rest of the group.

Player Selection Position NHL Games

Rd 1, No. 8



Rd. 2, No. 40



Rd. 3, No. 85



Rd. 4, No. 100



Rd. 6, No. 162



Rd. 7, No. 193



Philip Broberg is establishing himself as an NHL regular while Matej Blumel matriculated quickly for a fourth-round selection. Raphael Lavoie is close and goaltender Ilya Konovalov continues to build an NHL-level resume. The final two selections are best described as distant bells.

The general feel of this draft is disappointment, but steps forward by Broberg, Lavoie and Blumel could flip the script by this time next summer.

The scouts

  • Jim Crosson, WHL: None
  • Mitch Holmberg, WHL: None
  • Brandon Jay, OHL: None
  • Andrew Shaw, OHL: None
  • Michael Chiarelli, OHL, QMJHL: Lavoie
  • Pelle Eklund, Europe: Broberg
  • Alexander Naurov, Europe: Konovalov, Denezhkin
  • Matti Virmanen, Europe: Broberg
  • Scott Harlow, NCAA and American junior: Blumel, Mazura
  • John Hill, NCAA and American junior: Blumel, Mazura
  • Keith Sullivan, NCAA and American junior: Blumel, Mazura

Bob Green was director of player personnel in the 2018-19 season, he would have overseen all of the draft prep along with general manager Keith Gretzky (who replaced Peter Chiarelli midseason).

There is anecdotal evidence the Oilers did plenty of “cross-checking” in this season, a practice that is more pronounced now.

One of the talking points around new CEO Jeff Jackson has the club increasing the scouting manpower across the North American leagues. In 2019, the number of designated scouts in eastern Canada was at a low ebb.

The industry standard for evaluating a draft season is five years. The 2019 draft has one year to go. Here’s how things look today.

Philip Broberg

Year Pts-60 Goal Share X-Goal Share









All numbers five-on-five

Broberg is showing progress in the NHL in some important areas. The Oilers are outscoring opponents five-on-five when he’s on the ice, and he brought a little more offence in his first full season.

On the downbeat, Broberg isn’t playing much against elite competition (via Puck IQ) and that will need to change.

Also of concern are his low time-on-ice totals at five-on-five. Broberg played just 11:22 per game last season, reflecting sheltered third pairing deployment.

He just turned 22, and is at a point where pushing up the depth chart is vital. The draft day upset felt by fans in 2019 (Trevor Zegras was chosen by the Anaheim Ducks right after Edmonton took Broberg) is no longer the issue.

Broberg needs to deliver on his own promise and that needs to come this season.

Overall, he’s a good bet to have a long career. Broberg’s size and foot speed are huge positives for an NHL defender, and he is learning on the job.

Broberg’s consistent comparable since draft day has been former Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom. At 21, Klefbom averaged over 18 minutes a night at five-on-five with the Oilers, many of those minutes against tough competition. The Edmonton defence is far stronger today, but Broberg needs to show what he can do against the league’s best sooner than later.

Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft hasn’t shown tremendous trust in this player so far. Broberg’s development is the most important prospect related issue for the organization at this time.

Raphael Lavoie

Lavoie has delivered stunning offence in spurts during his time with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL.

Last season, he was more consistent (after recovering from an injury that delayed the start of his training camp) and caught fire in the final half of the year. Lavoie’s scoring touch in the final 42 games for Bakersfield (22-18-40) thrust him to the front of the forward group looking for their first NHL experience in 2023-24.

Lavoie also used his big body (6-foot-4, 196 pounds) to bull his way to the net and gain possession of the puck.

He’s in a difficult spot as a potential NHL rookie this season. Lavoie has no experience, is likely to make rookie mistakes and is playing for a team that will be pushing for the Pacific Division title from the opening faceoff of Game 1.

Year Goals-per-game Shots-per-game Shooting Pct













Numbers include all game states

Lavoie’s dominant skill is shooting the puck. He has improved since arriving in the AHL and both his shot volume and shooting percentage are impressive at this level.

His unique release, added to his newfound urgency with and without the puck, suggests Edmonton should give him some NHL games as an audition in 2023-24.

Lavoie is waiver eligible this fall and is vulnerable to being plucked by a team that can afford to play him all year. Goal scoring wingers have real value.

Ilya Konovalov

It would be easy to dismiss Konovalov’s NHL potential based on his one season in the AHL with the Condors.

It would be a mistake.

Despite being an undersized goaltender (6-foot, 194 pounds) his track record in the KHL is exceptional. Since 2018-19, his save percentages in the league have ranged from .912 to .930 and his career average in the world’s second-best league (.922) will eventually get him signed to an NHL contract if it continues.

Konovalov was used in a depth role with the Condors in 2021-22, posting an .893 save percentage in the same year Stuart Skinner took a major step forward and won most of the AHL starts.

No one should be surprised if this player emerges with another NHL team later in the decade.

Matej Blumel

Oilers scouts did a fine job identifying Blumel in the USHL, but the organization failed to sign him.

There are many possible reasons, including disinterest in the player (unlikely), a paperwork snafu (possible) and the player not liking his chances in an organization top heavy in forwards at the time of his signability (also possible).

At this point, all we know is the Dallas Stars have a fleet winger who delivered an impressive 25-goal campaign in his first AHL season (age 22). He was so good the club gave him an NHL audition.

The decade of the 2010s saw Edmonton pass on signing several future NHL players the team’s scouts liked enough to draft. Tobias Rieder, Erik Gustafsson and John Marino all emerged as NHL talents in other cities.

Blumel’s future is unknown. It’s uncertain his offence is special enough to survive an NHL season, but with his wheels, he’ll get a chance.

We do know the scouts got it right grabbing him in the fourth round.

Tomas Mazura’s story is a long and winding road. He is a Czechian prospect drafted out of U.S. high school. On his draft day, the scouting reports described a righty centre with real offensive ability at the high school level.

After graduating, he played sparingly in the USHL, then very little for HIFK (Finnish U20), and just eight games for Providence College in what was a mostly inactive period in the three seasons after he was drafted.

Mazura finally played enough to move the needle for St. Lawrence University in 2022-23 (3-9-12 in 28 games). He turns 23 in September.

It is unlikely he will receive a contract offer from the Oilers. The team owns his rights until Aug. 15, 2025.

Maxim Denezhkin

Maxim Denezhkin is an undersized (5-foot-10, 165 pounds) two-way centre who appears to be peaking in the VHL (Supreme Hockey League), the Russian version of the AHL.

Edmonton no doubt envisioned a higher ceiling for this player, but he has played in just five KHL games over four seasons.

One year from the final call

The 2019 draft will not be remembered as fondly as the 2018 edition. Bouchard is an impact player waiting to happen, McLeod already owns an important NHL spot (No. 3 centre) on the Oilers roster and Kesselring has made an NHL appearance.

The 2019 draft does have quality, but after four seasons we are unable to know just how good these young players are.

Broberg should find an NHL career in a top-six role, and it’s likely he will play top four for several years. However, he remains untested.

Lavoie has a scorer’s touch and that kind of player is so rare he can expect more than one organization to take a chance on him.

Blumel appears to be headed for some kind of NHL career and Konovalov is no doubt on the radar for several clubs.

More than any other Oilers draft crop in recent memory, the path forward for these young men is unclear. The fifth season after 2019’s draft will tell the tale.

Right now, it looks cloudy with a chance of rain.

(Photo of Philip Broberg: Nick Turchiaro / USA Today)

Originally Appeared Here

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