The Edmonton Oilers have announced that they’ve signed 25 year old defenseman Keegan Lowe to a two year contract.
If Lowe’s name sounds familiar it’s because he’s the son of former Oilers defenseman and current Oilers executive Kevin Lowe. The younger Lowe’s signing is sure to be met with skepticism from the team’s fanbase, who have long accused the Oilers organization of clinging too much to the past and instituting an “Old Boys Club” within the team’s ranks.
Oilers beat writer Brian McCurdy put it best in his Sunday morning column, saying:
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: this is a signing that is bound to raise some eyebrows if not hackles in Oil Country due to the player’s famous surname. His father Kevin has deep and continuing roots in the Oilers organization: its first ever NHL draft choice in 1979 who went on to become a player, captain, coach, GM, and President of Hockey Operations before moving on to his current job of Vice Chair of Oilers Entertainment Group. The franchise’s all-time Games Played leader who won five Stanley Cups as an Oiler and came within one game of managing the club to a sixth title, Lowe Sr. epitomizes the group variously known as the Boys on the Bus or the Old Boys Club.
For what it’s worth, Keegan did have a good season with the Oilers AHL affiliate Bakersfield Condors. The 25 year old blue liner put up 14 points in 52 games and led the club in plus/minus with a +14. The next closest Condors player was just +3. Pretty impressive.
The 6'1", 200 pound Lowe was originally drafted in the third round (73rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. But has played just four games in the NHL since being drafted nearly seven years ago.
Lowe’s head coach Gerry Fleming was effusive in his praise of Lowe earlier this season, saying:
“You don’t notice it, but he does a lot of subtle things with and without the puck that unless you really, really focus on his game you wouldn’t notice. But that’s a good thing sometimes when you don’t notice a player like Keegan. He’s not going to wow you with his offensive prowess but he does get opportunities, he does get looks at the net. He’s a solid penalty killer, he blocks shots, competes, plays hard, boxes out and his gap control is outstanding.”
Whether or not Lowe will develops into an NHLer or not remains to be seen, but you can’t help but feel that some of the team’s other young defensemen like Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear will be hindered by Lowe’s contract extension. With Lowe, Jones, Bear and veterans Eric Gryba and Ryan Stanton all factoring into the equation on the Condors’ blue line next season, something’s got to give.