At some point this winter, the Edmonton Oilers are going to have injuries on defense. If he’s playing well in Bakersfield, Keegan Lowe will be considered for recall. Should that happen, it will result in cries of nepotism, a flood of memories and a fascinating NHL audition.
RE 17-18: 7GP, 0-1-1
- What role will Lowe apply for upon NHL arrival? He will apply for the extra defender role and draw in as required. There’s a window here before the next young group (Paigin, Jones, Bear) arrives where men like Lowe and Dillon Simpson may see NHL time.
- Could he emerge as an NHL regular? The Gryba 7D role seems secure for the next two years but you never know and that’s the job Lowe would be applying for with the Oilers.
- Does he have a chance at the opening night roster this fall? I have Lowe as the No. 11 defenseman entering camp. He comes into the picture only after some injuries in my opinion.
- Does he have a real chance to eventually make the NHL as a regular? He is probably in a similar situation to the one enjoyed by Dillon Simpson. Both men may find an NHL career in a “Alexei Semenov” kind of way and it could last 10 games or 100. They’re going to need a little help and may get it. I’ve always felt there are probably 50-100 AHL players (or so) who are interchangeable with the fringe NHL players, and that can be the difference between Larry Mavety and Scott Ferguson.
- What makes him attractive for this roster? Can play defense, move the puck, has enough mobility to make all the plays. Plays with an edge, as one would expect from Kevin Lowe’s son.
- What is a reasonable timeline for full time NHL duty? He’ll be in the mix for recall most seasons over the next five years or so, depending on the organization he plays in. If he gets lucky maybe he emerges as an Eric Gryba 7D type who plays 40-60 games a season.
- What will his role be in Bakersfield? Top 4D minutes and plenty of them. I think Lowe, at least to begin the year, will have a feature role on the team.
- What one thing will get him to the NHL? Lowe lacks any one dominant skill and much of his overall value comes in playing the defensive side of the game. If I had to pick one thing that will get him noticed, it’s that agitating edge he brings.
- What will keep him from getting an NHL look? He is not a unique player and there are other players in the system who are about equal with him. I mention Dillon Simpson as being similar, and that’s about where I put him in the depth chart. Todd McLellan may have to choose to call one over another this winter, difficult to know how to measure that decision.
- How many players can he reasonably be expected to pass in one winter? He enters training camp as one of the top 4D in Bakersfield, along with Ryan Stanton, Dillon Simpson and Mark Fayne. I don’t think he’ll pass any defensemen, but may benefit from injuries, slumps and trades.
- Will there be a push back? Oilers fans push back on all kinds of things, but if Lowe earns next man up, doubt you’ll hear a lot of chatter. I don’t know where he ranks on the depth chart, so it might be a surprise if he gets the call over Ryan Stanton (as an example) but even then that’s a judgement call. I don’t think the coach will bring him up if Lowe isn’t the best option. Edmonton has drafted a lot of Oil Kings, but the Oilers coaches don’t seem to have been pressured to play them at the NHL level.
- What one thing would McLellan value in a recall? Speed and the ability to stand up at the blue line, while being mobile enough to race back and win the battle at the end boards. That’s the reason Mark Fayne is in the minors and Kris Russell has a four-year deal, in my opinion.