Long, tall forward Antoine Laganiere is one of the top college free agents available during the spring signing season. In recent years, Edmonton has stepped up their signing of college free agents, with Justin Schultz, Taylor Fedun and Tanner House current Oilers/prospects in the house via this route. Will Edmonton sign Laganiere or another graduating college player?

As I mentioned in the first installment of this series, there are reasons to believe Edmonton is placing a stronger emphasis on college free agency:

  • Edmonton’s success in signing Justin Schultz suggests young college 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."
  • One of Scott Howson’s assignments this spring is college free agency.


There are a few free agents who have already signed with NHL teams. They include giant defenseman Andrej Sustr (Tampa Bay), C Kyle Flanagan (Philadelphia), 6.06, 220 C Kellan Lain (Vancouver), G Jared Coreau (Detroit) and G Andrew Hammond (Ottawa).


The cream of the crop. Here are 10:

  1. D Danny DeKeyser, Western Michigan: He’s been on the radar for over a year now and is still eligible to return for one more college season. DeKeyser has been linked to Detroit Red Wings for some time, and he is a ‘plug and play’ option (meaning he is likely able to step right into the NHL).
  2. R Antoine Laganiere, Yale: 6.04, 215 and he can score goals. Laganiere has attended pro camps with Vancouver and Edmonton, one would think both clubs are extremely interested in his services. Yale made it to the tournament so there will be a delay in signing this player.
  3. R Eriah Hayes, Minnesota State: Power forward had a strong season (19 goals) on the strength of a terrific wrist shot and a willingness to drive to the net. Oilers are no doubt interested. 6.04, 210.
  4. L Ryan Walters, Nebraska-Omaha: Impressive season (22-30-52) from junior forward has NHL teams very interested in him. Very good skater.
  5. D Nate Schmidt, Minnesota: Puck moving defender with decent size (6.00, 199), he has another year of eligibility but there will be plenty of interest if he decides to turn pro. 
  6. C Drew Leblanc, St. Cloud State. Leads NCAA with 37 assists this season, playmaking center has a nice range of skills and as an older player (24 this summer) may be able to step right in and play for some teams.
  7. G Eric Hartzell, Quinnipiac: Hobey top 10 finalist and a .935SP have scouts taking notice. 6.04 G was also named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and Goalie of the Year on the eve of the ECAC Hockey Championship weekend.
  8. D Mike Boivin, Colorado College: Another puck mover, he’s tough and has decent size for the NHL game. Unlike some of the men on this list, Boivin should be able to sign this week.
  9. F Rylan Schwartz: Brother of St. Louis forward Jaden Schwartz, an offensive player of some ability, he is considered more of a playmaker than scorer.
  10. F Alex Krushelnyski, Colorado College: He isn’t big (5.11, 173) and he doesn’t fight 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. Mike’s boy.


Someday soon we’ll drag our briquets out and have a barbeque all our own; we’ll talk about the Oilers and the 2013-14 season, and argue over how much they’ve improved. My guess is we’ll have at least one college free agent signing to discuss.

  • DSF

    Right on, let’s commit to a young college defensemen with zero NHL experience, play him with kleffbom and our number one pick from this years draft.. We have these great experience role models such as smitty Belanger and horkoff who will teach them how to win and be a pro. Mmmm I hear crickets, more crickets. Sorry that’s our mangement thinking.

      • DSF

        Its not bitterness, why do we need more rookies in this team when management should be bringing in vets that have won before to show we are trying to move forward. Management has done nothing except rely on the draft.

        • DSF

          Oh, I agree completely but they are so focused on the draft they have no clue what else is required to build a winner.

          I expect it will take another couple of years out of the playoffs before Katz decides the guys running his team are buffoons.

          • DSF

            I totally agree with u. I don’t think Katz will do anything in regards to firing management. Last night was very disheartening to watch. They didn’t even show up. I think if Columbus beats us in the standings, regardless of what place we end up in. I think it’s another poor season. Too many games this year that this team did not show up especially at home.

  • The Soup Fascist

    I think Hemsky does have value. To my eye he does go to the dangerous places on the ice. Certainly he is not a “tough” player but he is not timid. His biggest issue in my mind is his desire to hold onto the puck too long. Playing with some über skilled veterans would likely address this on its own. We will see if the “braintrust” can turn any assets into an improved roster.

    Whatever happens to Ales, he has been a good Oiler in lean times.

    • J-Dogg

      Much of Hemsky’s current style of play is likely the result of his developing in what has essentially been an era with a persistent vacuum of top 6 high end finesse skill players with whom to play, as you put it, lean times.

      Would he have developed into more of a sniper/trigger man if he’d had a RNH type setup man in his younger years? I’ve often wondered.

      Instead he became the gifted play maker trying to set up guys who weren’t quite on his level and couldn’t fully take advantage of his talents.

      It reminds me a bit of Gretzky making passes to empty patches of ice where players with a higher IQ would have been were they playing with the Oilers.

      You do that long enough and I think most people will develop a nasty habit of thinking “Maybe it’s best if I just hold on to the puck a bit longer”

      I agree with you. He’s been a good Oiler in lean times and done the best with the cards he’s been dealt. Part of me will be sad to see him go, part of me will hope he ends up in a place with all the skill he could hope to play with and plenty of great runs for the cup.


    hello everyone, you do realize that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result. I sold my seasons in 2008. bought house in phx…. it costs the same for 2 golds to fly back and forth.

  • OilClog

    Trading Hemsky is absolutely ridiculous, we will never get the value back, he’s still very young with plenty of years left. Why can’t they be with Edmonton? This is ridiculous!

    How about we trade the players that have next to no talent out, bring in real hockey players, and see then where Hemsky lands. Hemsky is one of the most fearless players in the entire league, he will go into any situation for the puck, he is a puck hound, he will battle anyone! and here our donkey rear ends are thinking trading Hemsky is the thing to do to help this god damn bottom of the barrel team!

    It’s been 20 years of grade A pig slop down our throats with what 3 or 4 moments of actually joy with this team.. and still we cheer, we fight any other fan of any team with words of conviction, true passion, and full flight believe in what were spewing! and here’s the Oilers brain trust having high school drama continuously trade out players that never want to leave town, then wonder where the hell the passion is… WE SHIPPED IT OUT! Told it OFF! Kick it in the Face and said, You’ll never beat the 80’s!

    Guys like Adam Hall gets passed on waivers, Steckel bought for lima beans, and Ryan Smyth’s turned into a 3rd line checking center.. And they tell anyone listening that they’re seriously trying to compete. How many seasons will it be of lying straight to our faces? It’s becoming humiliating being an Oiler fan.

    End Rant.

    • J-Dogg

      I don’t really want to see him leave town either. In a perfect world it’d be great to see him with us the whole of his career. We’ve had few enough lifers recently.

      I just think we’ve got too many other holes to fill and most of our riches lie on the wings. His age seems to make him the odd man out in who to keep and therefore the most obvious trade bait.

      It’d be great to keep him, but how do you pay for the ready to play, veteran assets that we’re going to need now in phase 2 of our rebuild? Certainly not in futures alone.

      I dunno that I’d say the writing is definitely on the wall, but the further things progress the more it appears to be.

  • The Soup Fascist

    The Oilers roster is flawed. That is obvious. They can’t afford to wait around for the defensive prospects to mature. That could be 3-5 years from now. So, they have two options:

    1) Trade from areas of depth, which right now is RW and, um, RW. That’s it.

    2) Trade prospects and picks

    So, I am absolutely fine with a RW of Eberle, Yakupov, Hartikainen if dealing Hemsky brings back a Kulikov, or Alzner, or Myers, or Yandle or any other quality left defenceman who can play 20 minutes a night, pass the puck, and win the possession battle.

    I am NOT fine with Hemsky getting traded for picks or prospects. That time of the rebuild should be over now. Only real hockey players need apply.

  • Light, Sweet, Crude

    It’s Eberle that needs to be traded. His value is probably never going to be higher (besides last year – but even I was too in love to consider trading him them), That knee-jerk contract that he got is going to hamstring the whole works. There is no way he is worth what Hall is worth to this club, and now, everyone who needs a new contract (of the kids that is) is going to think they deserve the outer marker deal too. Stupid contract. Like the player, but not the deal. Eberle could fetch something nice, take your pick, almost. Hemsky is fine where he is, being better than all our other options on RW.