“We worked on a bunch of deals, some are possible, others are pending. So we’ll see what happens,” Lowe said Saturday as the draft wrapped up.
While he continues to try and land an impact forward and a puck-moving defencemen, his team at least loaded up with three first-round selections Friday night and three Europeans on Saturday.
On Friday they drafted a nifty playmaking centre, a big defenceman and a solid two-way forward. They were the first Canadian team to the mic and they used the sixth drafting position to select centre Sam Gagner of the OHL’s London Knights.
Gagner, the son of former NHL forward Dave Gagner, scored 35 goals and assisted on 83 in 53 regular-season games. The 5-11, 190-pounder from Oakville, Ont., reads plays well, which makes him an exceptional set-up man. He also was a member of Canada’s world junior championship team.
“To hear my name called was a great feeling, especially the Edmonton Oilers, a Canadian city,” said Gagner. “I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Scouts have compared him to NHL forward Marc Savard.
“I’m happy to be picked but I realize this is just the beginning, there’s a long way to go,” said Gagner. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”
Another year with the Knights will more than likely be in the cards for Gagner.
“I’m going to continue to work hard and try and get as NHL-ready as possible but if I were to spend another year in junior I think it would be great for my development,” he said. “I thought I developed a lot this year in London. The Hunters (Dale and Mark) really know their hockey and they’re able to teach me a lot about the game. I don’t think that would be bad for me at all.”
Edmonton was up again in the 15th slot and took six-foot-four, 225-pound defenceman Alex Plante of the Calgary Hitmen. Plante scored eight goals, assisted on 30 and was assessed 81 penalty minutes last season. His improvement in agility and overall play led to a jump up in the rankings in the second half of his season. Scouts have compared him to NHL defenceman Kyle McLaren.
“We just like his potential,” said Oilers scouting director Kevin Prendergast. “He’s 6-4, for a big guy he uses his reach really well. Lots of upside there.”
Phoenix traded the 21st pick to Edmonton for the No. 30 and 36 spots, and the Oilers selected six-foot-one, 175-pound centre Riley Nash, who scored 38 goals for the B.C. Jr. A league’s Salmon Arm team.
“I was mostly Canucks growing up but the Oilers are a good fit,” said Nash.
Nash will play college hockey at Cornell in the autumn and has some areas he wants to improve in his game.
“I got to get a better stride,” he said. “I’m not quick enough. And I need a better shot, all NHL players have great shots.”
Their Saturday picks:
-Swedish winger Linus Omark, 97th overall, from Lulea of the Swedish Elite League;
-Slovak centre Milan Kytnar, 127th overall, from Topolcany of the Slovak second division;
-Swedish winger William Quist, 157th overall, from Tingsryd of the Swedish third division.