Who are the longest-tenured members of the Edmonton Oilers organization?
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is an obvious one, as we all know he’s the longest-tenured veteran on the team. Oscar Klefbom, who was selected in that same draft, is another obvious one. There are also the team’s first-round picks from 2013 and 2014, Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl.
Connor McDavid would round out the top-five, right? Nope. It’s William Lagesson, who the team selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft and is now entering his eighth season as a prospect in the organization.
Lagesson has had an interesting ride. He was drafted out of Sweden, playing junior for Frolunda, and then moved to the USHL for the 2014-15 season. He then played two seasons at the University of Massachusetts and represented Sweden at the World Juniors in back-to-back tournaments.
He returned to the SHL in 2017-18 to play with Djurgardens and then came back to North America the following season where he would put together a very solid season with the Bakersfield Condors. Lagesson earned a cup of coffee with the Oilers in 2019-20 and has now played 27 career games in the NHL.
The Oilers have hung on to Lagesson for a long time. Will he finally crack through and earn a role with the club?
Date of Birth:
Drafted: 2014, No. 91 overall (EDM)
Weight: 207 lbs
Like most prospects, Lagesson had a whirlwind 2020-21 season. He started off playing in Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second league and flashed offensive numbers never seen before at any level he’s played at. Through 14 games with two different clubs, Lagesson scored three goals and 12 points, a near point-per-game pace.
Once North American play resumed, the waiver-eligible Lagesson traveled to Edmonton and earned a spot on the Oilers roster. He played quite a bit early on, including some games in which he averaged over 18 minutes playing on the team’s top shutdown pair with Adam Larsson.
As the season went on, though, Lagesson lost Dave Tippett’s trust and he started to spend significantly more time in the press box. Lagesson would play just two of Edmonton’s final 19 games of the season and didn’t suit up during their playoff sweep at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets.
While Lagesson got caved in at even-strength in terms of shot attempts over his 19 games with the Oilers in 2021, he had an even 9-to-9 on-ice goal differential and he did a fair job at limiting high-quality scoring chances against. From an eye-test perspective, Lagesson showed a fair ability to play a shutdown role, but he also looked very pensive and nervous at times.
After all of these years, we have a very good idea of Lagesson is. He has a big frame, plays a physical game, skates fairly well, is fine at moving the puck, but doesn’t jump up and produce much offensively. There’s a nice toolkit here for a quality, bottom-pairing defender.
The question now is whether Lagesson can finally seize the opportunity and become that guy for the Oilers.
Edmonton has Darnell Nurse, Duncan Keith, and Kris Russell on the left side along with Slater Koekkoek, who can play both sides. In the AHL, the Oilers will have Markus Niemelainen, Philip Broberg, and Dmitri Samorukov pushing for opportunities at the big league level. In the middle of all of that is Lagesson.
One thing Lagesson has going for him is his dirt-cheap $725,000 cap hit, which makes him an ideal No. 7 or even No. 8 defender for a team tight against the ceiling. Given his age and the amount of quality young defenders behind him, time is running out for Lagesson to prove he can be somebody with the Oilers.
For reference, players who I consider to be “prospects” for this countdown are skaters who have played fewer than 50 NHL games and goaltenders who have played fewer than 25 NHL games. I’m basing the rankings on a combination of upside and the likelihood of reaching that potential.