They may not be A-listers as far as defensemen go in this draft, but the Edmonton Oil Kings' Keegan Lowe and Baie-Comeau Drakkar Samuel Noreau are two pretty intriguing options as we approach the 2011 NHL Draft. Red Line Report had some interesting tidbits on both players in the February issue, so it's time to shed a little light here.
If Lowe's name looks familiar to you it is because he is the son of former Edmonton Oilers dynasty blueliner and current President Kevin Lowe. At about 6-1, the younger Lowe has been a bit slow to develop and show off much upside, but is rounding into form in the same city his dad is a household name in. He's not the most skilled player, but is smart and has grown up around the game. He's a hard worker and does the little things well, playing a sound positional game and using an active stick to take away passing lanes and forcing turnovers. He's an unselfish player who is always willing to take one for the team. You can see the evidence of this in the prolific fight videos of his on YouTube.
Lowe's offensive numbers are nothing to write home about; 2 goals and 21 points in 62 WHL games this season, but then again, his pops was never really known for his points as much as his shutdown game and leadership on the galaxy of stars that was the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s. He won six Stanley Cups (five with Edmonton, one with the Rangers) because he was a defensive anchor. Keegan is not his old man, but he may be worth investing a pick on at some point because of the bloodlines and the kind of similar attributes he's demonstrating according to reports from scouts.
Noreau is a 6-5, 215-pound tough-as-nails punisher who doesn't have much in the way of high-end skill, but has the size and nastiness to be a shutdown guy in time. He's not a bad skater, though needs to work on his lateral movement and pivots/turns like many big players on D. This dude can really fight, too. With his size and strength, he ragdolls guys and stands in and throws them against the tougher comers/enforcers in the Q. (Noreau is #8 in the red and white)
He gets very little notice on a poor team, but stay-at-home guys with legitimate toughness are always in demand on NHL teams' bottom pairing, and Noreau is someone who, with the right amount of patience and developmental time in the minors, could evolve into a functional 6th/7th in time.
Neither are top-three rounders, and let's face it-- their NHL upside is limited. But don't be surprised if one or the other are drafted earlier than you would think based on conventional rankings. They bring enough assets to the table to figure into the 2011 draft at some point.