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.

  • J-Dogg

    The college route is a good way to acquire talent on the cheap. I especially like college dmen because they tend to be solid skaters and puck movers.

    Regardless of if they can sign any of these men, I believe that they should begin in the AHL. No more putting the cart before the horse. These guys need to learn the ropes and management needs to acquire real proven NHL talent.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Mr. Katz makes a phone call to the top College UFA. This owner sure goes out of his way to try and make OUR team better. Good on you, sir. If I was wearing a hat I would tip it.

    It would be pretty cool to sign DeKeyser. Big, sought after defenceman. Can’t hurt the cupboards. Laganiere wouldn’t hurt either. I hope we can convince one of these prospects to join the fold.

    If they can land DeKeyser it would continue the trend of good prospects wanting to come here and hopefully that rubs off on some key vets (UFAs) in the off-season.

  • Citizen David

    Laganiere and Hayes both sound like people we should target. Awesome if we could get DeKeyser. If by chance we got DeKeyser with the expectation of Klefbom coming would that be the end of Smid?

  • Lowetide

    John Buccigross ‏@Buccigross 3m

    I hear Detroit, Edmonton, Anaheim, St. Louis, Nashville are final 5 for Western Michigan’s Dan DeKeyser. With fam in Michigan-Wings favorite

  • DSF

    As the April 3 NHL trade deadline approaches, speculation continues to swirl around Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla.

    Sources have told TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger that Iginla submitted a list of four teams he would approve a trade to; the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.

    The Flames have taken the position of not commenting on the speculation.

  • Lowetide

    Bob McKenzie ‏@TSNBobMcKenzie 54s

    NHL teams will be full-court press trying to sign Western Michigan’s DeKeyser. EDM owner Daryl Katz has already phoned the UFA defenceman.

    • wiseguy

      With all the Oilers owners charisma it should be a slam dunk that he signs with Edmonton. In all seriousness the college free agent route could be an excellent option for defense men, they are both physically and mentally more mature than 18 year old draft picks.

  • DSF

    The most interesting thing about this draft is how it could be dominated by a couple of teams.

    Columbus already has 3 first round picks and word this morning seems to indicate the Flames have decided to start selling.

    If they can move Ignila, Jaybo, Kiprusoff and other spare parts, they might also end up with 3 first round picks.

    Could be a case where there is a lot of trading done on draft day.

  • Lowetide

    Oilers won’t pick 1st this year. If the season ended today, the club would choose 8th. They are in fact better than more teams this year than they have been since 2008-09.

    • wiseguy

      Except that every non playoff team has a chance at number 1. We didn’t think we were getting it last year either and look what happened. We’ll get it just to spite Bettman and his anti oiler rule to stop us from getting 4 in a row.

      • wiseguy

        Yeah I remember the days when the NHL changed the four on four rule because for the Oilers of the day it was as advantageous as a power play. The days when the Oilers had almost as many short handed goals as New Jersey had powerplay goals. And now they change the rules so Oilers can’t draft first overall every year. Doesn’t this embarrass people like Lowe and Tambo? Apparently not.

    • DSF

      I would think they’ll be picking in the 4-6 range.

      The TB Lightning should get a bit of a dead cat bounce after firing their coach and they’re only two points behind the Oilers.

      You’d also have to think that the Flyers can’t stay as bad as they’ve been while both the Islanders and Caps have been playing better lately.

      So, something like this seems likely:

      1) Florida

      2) Calgary

      3) Colorado

      4) Edmonton

      5) Tampa Bay

      6) Columbus

      7) Buffalo

      8) Phoenix

      • McDavid's Comet

        I can only hope that Edmonton ends the season ahead of Calgary and Colorado but it is going to tight; at this rate they will probably pick second overall and even though that is bad it is good. That’s the only spin that can be put on it. Until they change management we really have nothing to look forward to; other than criticize.

        You never know the oil could smarten up and start winning and possibly get in the playoffs. LOL = )

  • Lowetide

    But before the BBQ’s are out, we will have to discuss the record 4th fist overall pick. Clearly after one home loss, the Oilers are boo worthy and last (even if they are not for both).