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31 in 31

Top prospects for Edmonton Oilers

Bouchard likely to remain in juniors; Jones, Yamamoto could make NHL roster

by Derek Van Diest / Independent Correspondent is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the Edmonton Oilers, according to


[Oilers 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]


1. Evan Bouchard, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 10 pick in 2018 NHL Draft 

Last season: Edmonton (NHL): 7 GP, 1-0-1; London (OHL): 45 GP, 16-37-53; Bakersfield (AHL playoffs): 8 GP, 3-5-8

The Oilers expect Bouchard (6-foot-3, 194 pounds) to develop into a top-pair offensive defenseman. The 19-year-old played seven games with Edmonton last season and scored his first NHL goal before returning to the Ontario Hockey League.

As captain for London, Bouchard had 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 11 playoff games and then joined Bakersfield of the American Hockey League for the Calder Cup Playoffs.

"Bouchard was really good in junior, but he's going to have to come in and really knock somebody out of the box to make the squad," Oilers general manager Ken Holland said. "I can't put a young player in a situation that he's not ready for just because he's a young player and he was picked high and has potential."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: WSH@EDM: Bouchard scores first NHL goal


2. Caleb Jones, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 117 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Edmonton (NHL): 17 GP, 1-5-6; Bakersfield (AHL): 50 GP, 6-23-29

The 22-year-old younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones made a good impression in Edmonton last season. 

Jones (6-1, 194) was a top-pair defenseman with Bakersfield and is going to get every opportunity in training camp to make the NHL roster. He was minus-25 in his first full AHL season in 2017-18 but improved to plus-16 last season and helped Bakersfield qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs. 

"We bought out [defenseman Andrej] Sekera for a variety of reasons and one of them was to create an opportunity for some younger defensemen in Bakersfield," Holland said. "We think we're going to have a competition on the back end."

Projected NHL arrival: This season


3. Tyler Benson, F 

How acquired: Selected with No. 32 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Bakersfield (AHL): 68 GP, 15-51-66

Benson (6-foot, 190) was limited to 30 games in his draft season with Vancouver of the Western Hockey League and 33 games the following season because of hip and sports hernia issues.

Last season, the 21-year-old was healthy and led Bakersfield in scoring, and had seven points (one goal, six assists) in 10 AHL playoff games. 

The Oilers are counting on Benson developing into a reliable bottom-six forward capable of providing offense. He may get an opportunity in the NHL this season but is likely to spend another season in Bakersfield to work on his skating and defense. 

Projected NHL arrival: Next season


4. Philip Broberg, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 8 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

Last season: AIK (SWE-2): 41 GP, 2-7-9

The 18-year-old will play with Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League this season, moving up from AIK of Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division.

Broberg (6-3, 199) is projected to become a top-pair defenseman, and Edmonton is expected to be patient with his development. 

"I think Broberg came as advertised," Bakersfield coach Jay Woodcroft said during Oilers development camp in June. "He's an excellent skater and I was impressed with his puck polish too. He's a large frame that you know is going to have some time to fill that out."

Projected arrival: 2021-22

Video: Oilers draft D Philip Broberg No. 8


5. Kailer Yamamoto, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 22 pick in 2017 NHL Draft 

Last season: Edmonton (NHL): 17 GP, 1-1-2; Bakersfield (AHL): 27 GP, 10-8-18

The 20-year-old nearly made the Oilers roster two seasons ago, but was sent back to Spokane of the WHL after nine games in Edmonton, when he had three assists. 

Yamamoto (5-8, 153), who injured his wrist last season, is a talented offensive player who could challenge for a roster spot again this season as long as he's not a defensive liability; he's minus-8 in 26 NHL games. 

Projected NHL arrival: This season

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