Keegan Lowe loves his dad and his legacy as a five-time Stanley Cup defenceman with the Edmonton Oilers, but didn’t want any part of following his those big footsteps in his draft year six years ago.
Time marches on, however, and now he’s signed with the Oilers.
Lowe signed a one-year, two-way free-agent contract on Canada Day, which means he might be going to the farm in Bakersfield. But maybe the former Oil Kings junior defenceman will get more traction with the Oilers’ organization than he got with the Carolina Hurricanes, where he was stuck behind an array of young kids they thought more of.
“I was faced with the question before the draft in 2011 if it came down to it would I want it (picked by the Oilers) but I didn’t want to. I wanted to do what I did alone,” Lowe said. “I wanted to pave my own way.
“But it’s six years later and I’ve played four years pro and at the very least, I’ve proved to myself I’m an American League defenceman. I have a lot more to prove and I’m open to playing within this organization (now).”
Lowe spent three and-a-half years playing for Carolina’s AHL farm team, in large part because the Hurricanes have one of the better young cores in the NHL that includes Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Noah Hanifin and Justin Faulk.
With no room for him, Lowe was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens last year. Now he’s with the team he grew up idolizing, trying to find his way.
“Every junior drafted thinks it’s going to be quicker (to the NHL) but I’ve slowly improved and if I can work on the offensive side and continue to work on my skating, it’ll give me a more realistic opportunity,” Lowe said. “I got a quick taste my second year of pro (fighting Vincent Lecavalier in his first game against Philadelphia) but there were a ton of good, young defenceman there and there was a lot of competition.”
Lowe never considered giving Europe a shot at 24, even though there may have been an overture from Jari Kurri’s Jokerit team in Finland in the KHL.
Lowe concedes he’ll be nervous at his first Oilers camp in September as he is at every NHL camp he’s been to, but more eyes will be on him because of the family tree.
“I think because this will be my fifth year of pro, it will be easier,” he said.
The Oilers have six healthy defenceman with Andrej Sekera out until December with knee surgery, and free-agent Eric Gryba re-signed. On paper, Mark Fayne has the inside track at the No. 7 spot because he’s been an NHLer and they’d rather pay his $3.6 million here than in the AHL. Another free-agent signing, local boy Ryan Stanton, will also be in the mix but has a two-way deal.