Some eye-opening comparisons for new Edmonton Oilers F Xavier Bourgault: 9 Things

Some eye-opening comparisons for new Edmonton Oilers F Xavier Bourgault: 9 Things

Author of the article:

Kurt Leavins

Publishing date:

Jul 25, 2021  •  17 hours ago  •  7 minute read  •  30 Comments

Xavier Bourgault
Xavier Bourgault

It has been been a busy week at The Cult of Hockey and Saturday was a bit of a marathon for everybody. So much has been said in the last 7 days, you would think there’d be nothing left to say. But the cycle is at its peak now, and Edmonton is a “hot” market. So, there’s actually no shortage of stuff to chat about.


All set, then? Here comes a brand-new edition of…

9 Things

9. I expect Ken Holland is going to spend some dough in the next week on 2 gaps in his roster, 2RD and 3LW. Re-signing Tyson Barrie would mean 3 puck-moving D on that right side. I think one needs to be a shutdown/PK type of guy. And I have a feeling Ryan McLeod may get a shot at 3C. As for goalies, I’ll get to that in a bit.

8. I think we’d all like to see our favorite teams bring in the big names to fill the roles in our respective rosters. But with the cap flat and elite players still getting paid, it will be critical to have ELC’s (like McLeod) filling spots in your lineup. I wonder of that reality may challenge Ken Holland’s tendency to over-ripen. It just may not be as do-able in a cap world as it was in his earlier days in Detroit.


7. Two NHL contracts agreed to this week should be of particular interest to Oilers fans. Seth Jones signs for $9.5m in Chicago, while Cale Makar inks a $9m deal in Denver. Prior to that, Miro Heiskanen was locked up at $8.45m in Dallas. Darnell Nurse’s next contract with the Oilers was always going to at least start with at least a 7. But the yardsticks have moved, folks. Get used to hearing the number “8” associated with Nurse. And if you don’t like that, fine, who would you replace him with then? Because you’ll need to.

6. Mike Smith’s new, 2-year contract was made official Saturday. Here are some of his quotes: “I’m still really motivated to keep playing” and “I feel like I have some unfinished business to do”. With his play in 2020-21 Smith earned a new deal and a raise. The 2 years helps keep the AAV at $1.9m in 2021-22, giving the GM a little more wiggle room. The Smith re-signing makes complete sense. But I struggle at bringing the same tandem back. In a perfect world, your next starting goaltender is trying to take that net away from Smith in Year 2.


5. Ken Holland has been around for a long time. He will have developed a keen sense of what’s going on. As we look back at the Adam Larsson and Duncan Keith transactions, logic would dictate that Holland’s Spidey Sense was tinging. He almost certainly knew the Larsson situation could break the wrong way when he swung the Keith deal. Imagine this blueline right now with neither Larsson nor Keith. Ken did, which is likely why the Keith deal got done when he did. And as the NHL Network’sBrian Lawton quipped on that negotiation, “No answer IS an answer”. Very prophetic. More on Larsson coming up…

4. There has been a lot of criticism of the NHL Draft broadcast. In all fairness to the league the pandemic robbed them of their traditional stage. The packed arenas, the electric atmosphere and intrigue of the live draft floor is compelling theatre. Its absence was not the NHL’s fault at all. But it was their problem and going forward they need to make at least one change. Gary Bettman is a smart man. He’s the face of the NHL head office. His is an important voice to be heard on draft day. But he’s flat, old, white and decidedly un-cool as an MC. The broadcasting rule of thumb would be to reduce his role, and have him do only what he’s really good at. Instead, put Bettman (and Bill Daly, for that matter) with a sharp, more contemporary host who can more handle the basics and keep the show moving forward. It would be a way better show. And yes…it was also way too damn long.


3. I do believe that the Edmonton Oilers are on the verge of signing Zach Hyman. But I’ve seen just enough funny things happen on the way to the Forum, I’ll wait to celebrate until he’s actually wearing the jersey in a Zoom call. Toronto did demand a 2nd Round pick in order to seal the trade & sign. That add would have allowed Edmonton to put Hyman on an 8-year deal, thus keeping the AAV down closer to $5m/year. I believe the club would like to keep the AAV at or very slightly below what Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got. But Ken Holland said no. It could still happen (the trade & sign), but it sure doesn’t sound like Kyle Dubas is interested in helping another team out with their cap situation. That of course is his prerogative. But these things have a way of coming around again. Meanwhile, don’t be surprised if Holland just waits out the clock and settles for 7 years.


2. Elliotte Friedman confirmed on the network Time & Friends show on Friday that a factor in Adam Larsson leaving Edmonton was the incessant (that’s my word, not Friedman’s) “it was 1-for-1” drone from some in the market RE: The Taylor Hall trade. Friedman says he talked to an Oilers player who confirmed this, and that Adam Larsson “never really felt comfortable (in Edmonton)”. Other factors were apparently the absence of close friend Oscar Klefbom, the tragic death of his father in Edmonton a couple years back and simply an opportunity for a fresh start. As a young player, my own rights were traded 3 times (that I know of). You may not all know this, but you almost never get an explanation as to why. So, every time it happens you go “maybe I’m not good enough”. Now, in my case? I wasn’t! But it sure didn’t help to be reminded of that fact over-and-over again. Some critics will say “Well, these players make a bundle of money, suck it up, that just comes with the territory”. Well, even if I agreed with that (and I don’t), remember…the player’s family and friends read the same comments. Are they supposed to be immune, too? If you get my drift…


1. The Oilers 1st Round pick, 22nd over-all in the 2021 draft was 18-year old Xavier Bourgault. My Cult of Hockey colleague Bruce McCurdy has a great rundown on Bourgault’s scouting report here. If Bourgault makes the NHL, it is reasonable to not expect that to happen for perhaps 3 or 4 years. Significant, that, as it is also about when the Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl contracts will start to come due. Now I’m not saying Bourgault is the same level of player as those 2 guys. But all good organizations have some internal candidates capable of stepping in when the time comes for the roster to turn over. To me, this pick is a lot about that. The future. Sure, maybe Jesper Wallstedt would have become a franchise netminder here, had the Oilers picked him. He’s a good goalie. But 18 others teams didn’t take Wallstedt, either. Was it because they were concerned with his relative lack of athleticism? Is he vulnerable to the lateral pass? Did his softer second-half spark worries about conditioning? Maybe all 3?


I don’t have a very strong opinion on Xavier Bourgault because in the last year and a half, I barely left the house let alone stood in a CHL arena. The scouts will have had way more access to video, data and opinion than any of us. And it will have been a fraction of what they usually get, as well. I have heard two comparisons to NHL player types, from solid hockey people: One, to Jean-Gabriel Pageau, which would be very nice indeed. The other, to Claude Giroux. Both Bourgault and Giroux were picked at #22, by the way, Giroux in 2006. Now that…that would be a home run. But a whole lot of pressure, too. Perhaps we should probably just let Xavier be Xavier.

Finally, under the heading “intangibles”: In his interview with Reid Wilkins on Saturday morning, Bougault came across as an appreciative, thoughtful and thoroughly humble young man. He was immediately likable.

And let me tell you, the quality of the person is never an insignificant factor in this process.

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins

Recently, at The Cult…

McCURDY: A draft wrap on the Edmonton Oilers 2021 NHL draft work

STAPLES: Who were the risk takers and who played it safe in the draft

LEAVINS: Zach Hyman the perfect fit to help the Oilers take the next step

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