Edmonton Oilers pick local winger Reid Schaefer in NHL draft

·2 min read

MONTREAL — Reid Schaefer grew up surrounded by Edmonton Oilers jerseys.

The jersey he pulled over his head Thursday, though, was special — it was the one he received after the Oilers called his name 32nd overall at the NHL entry draft.

“I was kind of nervous there at pick 32," said Schaefer, who grew up in Spruce Grove, Alta., just outside of Edmonton. "I knew Edmonton showed some interest and when I heard my name called, it was a dream come true.

"Very special.”

The six-foot-three, 213-pound left-winger had 58 points (32 goals, 26 assists) in 66 games for the Western Hockey League's Seattle Thunderbirds last season.

Schaefer described himself as a big, two-way power forward with offensive upside.

"I think I’m a pretty unique player that’s very versatile and can play up and down your lineup and play off wing," he said.

Oilers general manager Ken Holland watched Schaefer play against the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL playoffs earlier this year and liked what he saw.

“We liked him because obviously he’s a big, strong, powerful guy," Holland said. "I think if you want to be good, you’d like to have some big size on the wings.”

Edmonton originally held the 29th pick in the draft but moved down to No. 32 in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes.

The deal saw the Oilers send bruising forward Zack Kassian to Arizona along with the No. 29 pick, a 2024 third-round selection and a second-round pick in 2025.

In addition to acquiring the No. 32 pick, Edmonton shed Kassian's US$3.5-million salary.

"It was obvious that we had to make a move or two to try and get some cap space," said Holland, noting he didn't want to buy out the remaining two years of Kassian's contract.

The Oilers have several needs to address this offseason, the GM added, including signing a goalie, and deciding what to do with restricted free agents Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi.

Kassian, 31, played seven seasons with the Oilers. Last year, he registered 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) and 63 penalty minutes in 58 regular-season games.

He added another four points (two goals, two assists) and 12 penalty minutes in 16 playoff appearances.

Kassian's place in the lineup has changed a lot since the Oilers signed him, Holland said.

“The team got deeper and his role was greatly diminished," he said.

Edmonton finished the regular season second in the Pacific Division with a 49-27-6 record and went on to make a deep playoff run before being swept in the Western Conference semifinal by the Colorado Avalanche.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2022.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press