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Bourgault could participate in the CMJ despite an abdominal injury

EDMONTON — Xavier Bourgault didn’t skate during the Edmonton Oilers’ development camp earlier in July while recovering from an abdominal muscle injury, but the 19-year-old centerman plans to have a summer very busy in order to eventually reach the NHL.

Selected with the 22nd overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, Bourgault is considering his options. One of them is a participation with Canada in the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship (WJC) from August 9-20 if he is able to play. The tournament was postponed last December due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

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Bourgault was selected to the team in December. Suffered an upper-body injury in the tournament opener against the Czech Republic on December 26, after being hit to the head by defenseman Stanislav Svozil in the third period of a 6-3 win from Canada. The tournament was postponed three days later.

“It wasn’t as bad as we imagined,” commented Bourgault during the camp. “I felt good after a day or two and would have continued playing if they hadn’t canceled the tournament. »

Bourgault should be ready to attend training camp with the Oilers in September. He signed a three-year rookie contract on March 31.

“It’s a short summer, I’ll have the opportunity to rest, undergo treatment here and train,” said Bourgault. I will have to decide soon if I will play at the World Juniors. I have a big summer of training ahead of me heading into my first season as a pro and I want to be ready. I have to be ready for an important season. »

Bourgault (6-foot, 172 pounds) should be closely watched by the Oilers and he will have the chance to land a position. Otherwise, he will start the season with the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League (AHL).

“I think last year I had two good preseason games with the Oilers, and when I look at their roster, they have some good veterans,” he said. But I believe there is an opportunity for me and other young players to fight for a place.

“It’s good for our team to have some young players who will gain experience for the future. Of course, we believe that we can help veterans who are already there. We have seen during [séries éliminatoires de la Coupe Stanley] that they are very close to a championship here. »

Bourgault finished second with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), with 75 points (36 goals, 39 assists) in 43 games last season and with 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in 16 playoff games. His last season in the junior ranks was marked by a President Cup victory with the Cataractes, who were eliminated by the Hamilton Bulldogs by losing 4-3 in overtime in the semi-finals of the 2022 Memorial Cup. Bourgault was second among all tournament players with seven points (two goals, five assists), tied with teammate Mavrik Bourque, a forward selected by the Dallas Stars with the 30th pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

“It was a pretty special team,” said Bourgault. I remember when I was 16 talking to [Bourque]. I told him it would be fun to go to the Memorial Cup and face players like Jake Neighbors (drafted 26th overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2020), who we were at Team Canada camp with under 17 years old. And it was great to end my junior career at the Memorial Cup playing alongside a lot of friends. It was rather special. »

Bourgault and Bourque formed a dynamic offensive duo for Shawinigan, amassing 143 points (56 goals, 87 assists) in the regular season and 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists) in the playoffs.

” It’s incredible. We arrived in Shawinigan at 16, we didn’t know each other well, then we grew up together. He’s such a talented player,” Bourque said of Bourgault during the Memorial Cup. “We’ve been playing as part of the same line since we were 17 and we’ve started to develop some chemistry. We’ve been playing together for three years, and it was “fun” to play with someone so good at hockey. »

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