Yohann Auvitu is a 28-year-old right-shooting defenceman who is looking to crack the Oilers’ 2017-18 opening night lineup.
Where did Auvitu (pronounced oh-vee-too) come from? From France originally, which is very rare for an NHL player. Auvitu played several seasons in Finland. Then after winning the award for the Finnish League’s best defenceman in 2015-16 and an impressive showing in the 2016 World Hockey Championships, the Devils signed the defenceman to a two-way contract.
Auvitu started the 2016-17 in the NHL but eventually spent time with the AHL’s Albany Devils. In all, he appeared in 25 games with New Jersey and 29 games with Albany.
A scouting report? In an interview on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer, here’s what Devils’ broadcaster and former Devils’ defenceman Ken Daneyko had to say about Auvitu:
He’s a good skater, puck mover, not a very big guy. He ended up maybe getting a little ground down early just learning the grind of the National Hockey League and its schedule obviously. I’m not too sure exactly why the Devils didn’t play him a little bit more or get him back up there. They have their reasons. But I liked him. He’s a smart player that moves the puck extremely well and can skate very well…I liked him. He’s a great kid…He’s got a good shot. He gets his shot through a lot…Good quick release.
Probably most Oilers fans didn’t see much or any of Auvitu last season, so here’s a highlight package put together by Edmonton Prospect Watch:
His NHL boxcar numbers (2 G, 2 A, 2 PIM, +1) don’t wow you, but his advanced stats are much more attractive. Relative to the rest of the Devil’s defenceman, Auvitu’s Corsi For looks good. (His EV Coris Rel was 3.1.)
The Oilers signed Auvitu this off-season to a one-way, $700,000 contract, indicating that management sees him as having a shot at making the Oilers’ 2017-18 opening night roster. With the Andrej Sekera injured and not able to return until November at the earliest, it’s assumed that Eric Gryba will be moved up into the sixth defenseman spot. If so, Auvitu could start the year as the Oilers’ seventh defenceman.
In a recent interview with TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Peter Chiarelli described Auvitu as a good skater and said he thought “he had a strong first third of the year, and [then] he hit a wall.” Chiarelli went on to say that Auvitu would “get every chance to step up.”
To be honest, I didn’t pay attention to Auvitu last season, but I like that he has the reputation of being a good skater and puck-mover. Chances are that Auvitu won’t have a big impact on this season’s Oilers, but at the very least he gives the team more depth.