When Edmonton Oil Kings blueliner Keegan Lowe needs advice, he simply walks down the hall of his family home.
As the son of Oilers dynasty defenseman and current president of hockey ops Kevin Lowe, Keegan has been doubly blessed by the fact he gets to play major junior in his hometown and also has the owner of six Stanley Cup rings around to help him with his game.
“Just like most hockey players, my dad is my mentor,” Keegan said. “Sometimes we’ll watch video together online and talk about my skill work or positional work.”
While dad doesn’t want to tamper too much with Keegan’s development - he does have an NHL team to run and the Oil Kings have a very capable staff themselves - bringing 19 seasons of big league experience can be a boon for the youngster.
“I try not to do it too often,” Kevin said. “But if I see a particular characteristic repeating itself, I’ll pull off a couple clips. I have to say, though, it’s been a lot less frequent as the season went on.”
Which is a big reason why Keegan is slated to be selected in the second or third round of the draft this summer. While he’s not an imposing defenseman, the Oil Kings stalwart had a big turnaround season, playing with Buffalo Sabres prospect Mark Pysyk and posting a plus-33 rating, a vast improvement over the minus-16 he was stuck with last year. Though 2010-11 could have been another down season, too.
“Coming into the season, I didn’t have the greatest start,” Keegan said. “So I worked with our defensive coach, Steve Hamilton. He told me to work on the little things, like 1-on-1 coverage and not getting beat off the wall. I started to take more pride in the defensive zone.”
He also got more aggressive. Lowe put up 123 PIM this season, double what he drew as a rookie. And though fighting isn’t his strength, he was more than willing to drop the gloves when asked.
“He’s playing with more of an edge now,” one scout said. “But at the same time, it’s his skill level you like. He had the advantage of who his father was, he’s a more complete player. His overall game has improved a lot.”
Lowe cites Nick Lidstrom and Shea Weber as NHLers he likes to watch, particularly because of the way both take care of the defensive zone and have an ability to get their point shots through to the net. As a kid, however, he had several of his dad’s teammates to look up to for a different reason.
“When I was younger, I’d go downstairs after games and wait for my dad outside the dressing room or watch practices on weekends,” he said. “Players like Ryan Smyth and Doug Weight were real nice guys, but they also worked hard in practice. It taught me that once you’re there, you have to keep working because someone’s always there to take your spot.”
And though Lowe is an Edmonton boy, he did travel down to Minnesota for a couple years to play prep hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Along with being able to grow as a young man away from the comforts of home, the journey allowed the burgeoning blueliner to play against stiffer competition.
“He was at a time where he needed more,” Kevin said. “I knew what Shattuck had to offer. He loved the game and every moment he was playing he was happy.”
Now the big dilemma for Kevin is what to do when the draft comes. For obvious reasons, he excuses himself whenever the Oilers scouting brain trust is discussing his son, but Lowe can’t help being a proud papa, either.
“He kinda has everything we’re looking for,” Kevin said. “He has hockey sense and he’s competitive, he can play both ways. I think he’s a pretty well-rounded player.”
It’s not hard to figure out where he got it from.
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