One of the negatives of junior hockey is the age limit. Junior hockey only allows a player from the age of 16 to 21 to play. However, there are some exceptions. In special cases, a 15-year-old player can earn exceptional status with the league and play in Junior. These are very rare cases. junior teams are only allowed to roster three 20-year-old players at one time. Unfortunately, this put teams in situations to trade good players; for example, the Edmonton Oil Kings had to move Parker Gavlas due to him being the odd man out at 20 years old. They traded him to the Medicine Hat Tigers for a 4th round pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft.
In this article, we will be looking at the players the Oil Kings decided to keep instead. They currently have three 20-year olds. Riley Sawchuk, Conner McDonald, and Dylan Myskiw.
The Edmonton Oil Kings acquired Riley Sawchuk from the Tri-City Americans in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft on March 16th, 2019. A previous 6th round pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. Sawchuk comes into Oil Kings training camp as the top scorer from last year. Sawchuk had career highs in 2018-2019 with Tri-City in goals (20), assists (33), and points (53) in 67 games. Riley will anchor the middle of the ice for the Oil Kings as he will without a doubt be the 1st line centerman.
Edmonton lost Trey Fix-Wolansky in the offseason, Fix-Wolansky had 37 goals, 65 assists for a total of 102 points in 2018-2019 and will for sure be missed on this Oil Kings roster. Sawchuk will be asked to pick up some of that lost scoring as the Oil Kings will likely need him to take another step and get into the 80-point range if they want to compete for the division seriously. Riley Sawchuk currently isn’t part of an NHL team’s farm system; will he be one of the few 20-year olds to get a look as an undrafted free agent? A strong showing in 2019-2020 could very well put him in conversation.
Conner McDonald was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers 24th overall in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, later traded to the Oil Kings during the 2016-2017 season in exchange for Lane Bauer and a slew of picks. McDonald has excelled on the Oil Kings blueline since arriving. He finished the 2017-2018 season with 42 points in 71 games, however, finished the season with a -17 +/- rating. He substantially increased his play last season with 50 points in 68 games, including 19 goals and an increased +/- rating of +16. It’s precisely the kind of jumps you want to see in the development of a player.
McDonald will be tasked with anchoring the top pairing for the Oil Kings once again this year and helping quarterback the powerplay. Asking him to score more than 50 points this year could be a long shot, but if his progression has shown us anything, he can get to the 60-point plateau. He will be an integral part of an Oil Kings defence that will have to play lights out if Edmonton wants to defend their division title.
It’s not very often that teams will use one of their 20-year-old spots on a goaltender. However, if Myskiw can play anything like he did last year, he is well-deserving of the spot. Drafted in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft by the Victoria Royals 112th overall. Myskiw is currently with his third WHL team as he made a stop with the Brandon Wheat Kings before eventually finding his way over to Edmonton.
Myskiw is a very consistent product, 45 starts last year left him off with a 2.53GAA and a .914 save percentage, followed by a stellar 2.17GAA and .913 save percentage in the WHL Playoffs last year as he helped lead the Oil Kings to the WHL Eastern Conference Finals against the Prince Albert Raiders. He will probably be expected to carry a little less workload this year as the Oil Kings will more than likely try to groom a goaltender for the future. I’d fully expect Myskiw to hold the starting job the entire year and hopefully lead the Oil Kings into the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
Are you looking for more Oil Kings content? Be sure to follow Arik on Twitter as he will providing you with Oil Kings content all season long! HERE.
Do you live in Edmonton? Want to see the Oil Kings defend their division championship? Get your tickets HERE.