The Oilers lost some defensive depth this season as they watched Jordan Oesterle pack up and head to Chicago as a free agent. That loss, combined with Griffin Reinhart heading to Vegas in expansion, severely crippled Edmonton’s NHL-ready defensive group in Bakersfield.
While the Condors will have a dynamic defense loaded with potential this season, most of the group is young and not ready for NHL employment. Only Dillon Simpson, who has played in just three NHL games, seems poised to step in if injury strikes.
Peter Chiarelli was aware of this heading into free agency and addressed it with a pair of signings. One of those signings has a familiar last name, and like Simpson appears close to being NHL ready. That someone is Keegan Lowe, son of Oilers legend Kevin Lowe.
So…..Just Who Is Keegan Lowe?:
At 6’1” and 200 pounds, Lowe isn’t a massive defender but possesses NHL size. His offense doesn’t pop off the page, but overall he’s a sound all-around defender. Combined between St. John’s and Charlotte last season, Lowe registered 6-12-18 in 71 contests. He went pointless in three Calder Cup playoff games this past spring, and is pointless in two NHL affairs, which took place with Carolina during the 2014-15 season.
For a better look at the kind of player the former Oil King is, we turn to The Hockey News and their scouting report.
|The son of former NHL standout defender Kevin Lowe plays a similar, no-nonsense style behind the blueline. Limits mistakes and can be a physical presence. Owns a projectable frame for the big league.|
|Lacks a bit of skill, so his offensive contributions are somewhat limited at the National Hockey League level. Is more of a depth player whose ice time needs to be monitored and restricted.|
|Defensive depth defenseman.|
What Can We Expect?:
Lowe won’t blow your socks off with dynamic hockey, but Oiler fans should expect relatively steady play from the defender during the preseason. When he is on the ice, I think we can expect low event hockey and a responsible style.
In training camp, we are likely looking at one of the final cuts defensively. Barring an addition, Lowe will compete with Ryan Stanton, Eric Gryba and Yohann Auvitu for the seventh defender spot. I expect Lowe gets a fair amount of looks and sticks around until one of the final preseason tilts.
That being said, I think Lowe is the least likely of the above group to get the seventh spot on defense. I’d wager it goes to Eric Gryba and I think the club may have room for Auvitu as well with Andrej Sekera on the mend. I expect Lowe to start the season in Bakersfield and play a top-four role.
NHL time is not out of the question, and knowing how injuries always occur I expect Lowe to make his Oilers debut at some point during the course of the season.
If he can play steady hockey in Bakersfield and be a solid top-four defender for the club while not looking lost in a potential NHL cameo, then I think we should call that a success. To me, that is a very realistic benchmark considering Lowe’s resume and level of ability.