In a few weeks we’ll be hearing about ‘college free agents’ and names like Dan DeKeyser, Andrej Sustr and Nate Schmidt. There’s another name in this year’s group, a name Oiler fans might remember. Krushelnyski.
Western College Hockey released their list of top college free agents this spring, and it’s worth checking out for Oiler fans. Alex Krushelnyski–Mike’s son–will be among the most sought after youngsters this year. Although the Oilers have never been a big player in the annual signing frenzy, they might be able to get a quality free agent to come along with them for a few reasons:
- Edmonton’s success in signing Justin Schultz suggests young free agents–especially young free agents–have noticed the outstanding talent base in the NHL’s northern city. It’s a good group with a strong future.
- The Oilers are putting more emphasis on this area, as shown by signings of Taylor Fedun, Tanner House, Bryan Lerg and others (plus Schultz, of course) in recent seasons.
- Craig MacTavish is one of the men checking on the NCAA free agents. MacT to Terry Jones:“My day-to-day stuff has been to keep a handle on the top 60 draft eligible players, tracking the kids we’ve drafted and seeing what their development is and where they fit in, as well as keeping an eye on free agents in the CHL and NCAA."
WHAT KIND OF PLAYER IS ALEX KRUSHELNYSKI?
- Alex Krushelnyski describes Alex Krushelnyski: "I’d say I’m a little more of a finesse guy than dad was. At least he’d like me to be. It’s funny really — my style of play is totally opposite from the feisty style he played."
- What he learned from Dad? "To shoot the puck. It’s all about percentages. If you shoot five times, one is bound to go in. That’s one thing I’ve been trying to do, in addition to keeping my feet moving. I’m a better player when I move my feet."
- Western College Hockey on Krushelnyski: Krushelnyski was a player barely on the radar heading into this season, but has had an incredible year. Krushelnyski has 32 points through 30 games this year, including 28 points at even strength. He’s the nation’s third best scorer at even strength behind (Ryan) Walters and Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau. There’s nothing flashy about his game, but he’s the type of player that wins battles and rarely makes a mistake. He has the type of tools to be an effective bottom line player in the NHL.
He isn’t big (5.11, 173) and he doesn’t fight (5 minors all year) but he’s an even strength dynamo, is part of the penalty kill and at age 22 is probably ready to step right into AHL level pro hockey. He’s a winger, goes to Colorado College and majors in Economics.
PENALTY SHOT! (by Krushelnyski)
Dan DeKeyser is probably the top college free agent in this year’s class, and he would be an excellent addition for the Oilers. The stay-at-home defender has good size, is an excellent skater and at 22 is a mature prospect. All 30 teams are apparently interested but the Detroit Red Wings may have the inside track (this is based on last spring’s rumblings).
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Glory Oilers had some college men (Glenn Anderson, Randy Gregg, Pat Hughes, Dave Lumley, Don Jackson from the original Stanley team) and many of the best players since 1990 have also been college or university trained. The current NHL team has Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry, Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Whitney and Corey Potter as college men.
With renewed empahsis on college procurement and the club drafting lower in each round (beginning this summer, hopefully), scouting and signing some of these young undrafted players is going to have increased importance. This might be a college signing season worth following for Oiler fans, so I’ll be following the action and will pass along updates.
Next up: available college powerforwards.