June 20, 2007
Working the phonesLowe prepares for draft day
By TERRY JONES -- Sun Media
There are two Kevin Lowes headed to Columbus, Ohio today for the NHL Entry Draft.
There's the aggressive, intense, eyes bulging, heavily-under-pressure Lowe who is making the calls to land a pair of top end, big buck talents to convert Ales Hemsky passes into goals and to get the puck out of their own end.
Then there's the laid-back, calm, cool, relaxed, not-a-care-in-the-world Lowe who is taking the calls about his plethora of first round draft picks, but only half listening.
Lowe admits he's the caller when it comes to doing deals involving a top two defenceman and a first line forward involving a combination of any number of Oiler assets.
And he admits he's the guy answering the phone when it comes to people asking about his three first round draft choices on Friday night.
"In the last two or three days the trade talk has really heated up," said the under-the-gun, man-on-the-run Lowe.
"We're probably making more calls than we're getting. I guess via this public forum I can announce we are open for business.
"I can't wait to get there," the hyper Mr. Lowe said of the Columbus gathering.
When it comes to drafting in the new NHL, the Oilers have decided they have to very much be a grow-your-own type of team.
So the laid-back Mr. Lowe isn't making any calls when it comes to pawning his three first round draft picks - Nos. 6, 15 and 30.
"We're willing to listen to anything. But ideally we'd like to keep our first round draft picks," he said.
"We wouldn't trade them for an unrestricted free agent or an older player with one year left on his contract."
The Oilers, who have two first round and two second round picks next year, are in perfect position to build a real good group for the 2010-11 season.
"We've got so many of them. Ideally we wouldn't trade any of our picks. I wouldn't even entertain a deal to drop down," he said of acquiring an asset by giving up the sixth pick for one later in the draft.
"You are not going to get the same player with the 15th pick as the sixth.
"And nobody is going to give us a player we'd be interested in in exchange for the sixth pick," he added.
Lowe said the Oilers will select somebody ranked by most scouting services within a few places of their pick - which probably means Karl Alzner, Jakub Vorecek, Sam Ganger or Keaten Ellerby.
But where it might get interesting is with Russian Alexei Cherepanov.
With no agreement in place between the NHL, IIHF and the Russian hockey federation, drafting a Russian is risky business.
Lowe doesn't figure Cherepanov will still be out there by the sixth pick, but if he is ...
"I'm not sure what we'd do if he was still around at sixth," he said.
Be sure the Oilers will be doing more player interviews than any other club at the draft as a result of the early, middle and late positions in which they pick.
But Lowe says that's a fun part of proceedings.
"I remember one year we were talking to a Quebec player and asked him how he'd rate other players on his team and in his league.
"He did such a good job, we figured we could draft him and if he didn't pan out as a player we could still keep him as a scout."
But with an enormous amount of pressure on Lowe to hit a couple of home runs with the extra salary cap money he has at his disposal between now and the start of free agent season on July 1, the next two weeks isn't about fun.
And he's already struck out once, with Philadelphia doing an early-bird deal with Nashville for Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell.
"We're going to try to create a splash like we did a couple of years ago, but we're not going to sign any high-price deal that we're going to regret four or five years down the road."
No matter what the Oilers do, if they draft well, they're not going to regret what happens this weekend in Columbus four or five years down the road.
Either way, for one Kevin Lowe or the other, hunting season opens today.