The Edmonton Oilers drafting and development continues to be an issue for the franchise. On Wednesday night, the Oilers were embarrassed at the hands of the Dallas Stars, losing 5-0. The Stars scored 4 goals in under 6 minutes in the second period which sealed the victory. 

This game provides a perfect opportunity to discuss what could have been and what the Oilers can do moving forward with one of their youngsters.

Drafting Woes

In 2021, the Edmonton Oilers selected Xavier Bourgault with the 22nd overall pick. With the next pick, the Dallas Stars selected Wyatt Johnston. So far, Johnston has scored 54 goals and 102 points in 157 career games. Bourgault has yet to play a game in the NHL. Even in the American Hockey League, Bourgault’s numbers are not impressive. He has 51 points in 113 games with only 17 points in 51 games this season.

The Oilers missed big time this draft. Not only did they pick Bourgault, they also traded down to make it happen. They were originally selecting 19th, but traded that pick to the Wild for the 22nd pick, and a 3rd-rounder that ended up being Luca Munzenberger. The 19th pick was goaltender  Jesper Wallstedt whom many Oiler fans wanted them to select due to their subpar goaltending depth.

Poor Player Development?

I could say that the Oilers would be a better team with Johnston on it, but it depends on how he would be used, and if he would be put in a position to succeed. The Oilers have a couple of young players in the minors in Philip Broberg and Dylan Holloway. They have both failed to maintain a spot on the big club largely due to mismanagement. They have not been put in positions to be successful in the NHL. Hollaway, 22, averaged just over 10 minutes a night when he was on the Oilers, in a fourth line role. Broberg, 22, averaged just over 12 minutes a night on the Oilers third pair. They are both currently in the AHL, playing over 20 minutes a night, and having success.

Watching the Oilers play the Stars on Wednesday, I can’t help but compare Dylan Hollaway to Logan Stankoven in terms of career trajectory. Stankoven was a 2nd-round pick by the Stars in 2021, the same year as teammate Wyatt Johnston. Since his NHL debut on February 24th, Stankoven has 13 points in 18 games averaging 15 minutes a night. The Stars gave him good linemates and meaningful minutes from the onset and he’s made the most of his opportunity. There is no reason why the Oilers can’t give Hollaway that same opportunity. Playing 10 minutes a night on the fourth line is not good for a kid’s development or confidence. Hollaway can skate, he is physical, and he creates opportunies for his linemates. If the Oilers recall Hollaway before the playoffs, they should put him on Leon Draisatil’s wing and let him play 15+ minutes a game consistently.

Youth Leading The Way In Dallas

Johnston, 21 and Stankoven, 21 are electric to watch. They have both contributed and have meaningful roles on a potent Stars lineup. The Dallas Stars are a perfect example of an elite team that uses their young players effectively while still being a Stanley Cup contender. What Stankoven is, is what Oiler fans want Hollaway to become.

What Should The Oilers Do With Their Youngsters?

The Oilers are currently the oldest team in the NHL with an average age of 30, and have very few draft picks in the next few years. Therefore, they should use the young players currently in their system.

What should the Oilers do with Dylan Hollaway? Does he have a future in their top 6? While the Edmonton Oilers have lacked in drafting and development, They can still do right by Dylan Hollaway and Phillip Broberg. Hollaway and Broberg are both only 22 years old, so there is still time to fix their organizational mistakes. The kids will make mistakes, but is important to instill confidence in them by letting them play. They just need an opportunity to play meaningful minutes with skilled players.

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