Raphael Lavoie signs a new deal with Oilers but still has plenty to prove

Raphael Lavoie had an excellent season in the AHL as he scored a career-high 28 goals, but the Oilers still expect much more from one of their best prospects.
Edmonton Oilers v San Jose Sharks
Edmonton Oilers v San Jose Sharks / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

As expected, Raphael Lavoie has re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers, on a one-year, two-way deal worth $775,000 at the NHL level. As per Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, the contract also comes with $225,000 guaranteed at the AHL level with the Bakersfield Condors.

The AHL portion of the deal represents a significant raise from the $70,000 Lavoie received this past season. However, while this alludes to his improving play overall, the reality is that so much more is still expected of him.

Lavoie was selected 38th overall, in the second round of the 2019 draft, and came with plenty of anticipation for the Oilers. His combination of speed, size, strength and goal-scoring threat made for an intriguing prospect with plenty of size.

However, the 23-year-old has arguably developed slower than expected for the organisation. (Not that COVID-19 helped.) This was due to the combination of struggles with his consistency and defensive game, both areas of which he has now improved in.

NHL debut with the Oilers

As a result of this and his overall growth, Lavoie impressed during training camp and preseason last year, and he finally got to make his NHL debut on Nov. 4, versus the Nashville Predators in a 5-2 loss. He would go on to make seven appearances in total for the Oilers during the 2023-24 regular season, producing no points and a -2 rating in 7:17 of average ice time.

In fairness to the forward, he wasn't going to get many opportunities to show what he could do offensively, when playing on the fourth line. However, his effort and willingness to get involved was notable, exemplified by making 13 hits.

Lavoie spent the majority of this past season in Bakersfield, with him building on a successful 2022-23 campaign in the AHL. He led the Condors with a career-high 28 goals in 2023-24, as he went on to produce a single-season high 50 points in total during 66 games.

There's no denying Lavoie has all the attributes to succeed in the NHL, but getting an extended opportunity will be easier said than done, at least next season. As per the recent moves made by Jeff Jackson and company during the beginning of free agency, the Oilers' forward group is stacked and ready to make another genuine run at the Stanley Cup.

This doesn't mean the Chambly, Quebec is without hope, if he can continue to grow into the player he's meant to be. Consider how fellow prospect Philip Broberg appeared to be headed towards being a draft bust, but eventually came to the fore during the latter stages of the Oilers' playoff run, albeit at a different position as a defenceman.

Next. Oilers projected to have similar success in 2024-25. Oilers projected to have similar success in 2024-25. dark

Along these lines, Lavoie does offer some invaluable versatility, in his ability to play as both a centre and a winger. Regardless, it's up to him to continue showing more, to the point that Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch will have no choice but to give him more sustained playing time in the NHL.

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