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2016-17 IceCaps Season Review: Keegan Lowe’s late-season addition addressed a key need in St. John’s

A tale of a second-generation defenceman and his inverse impact on the St. John’s IceCaps.

Keegan Lowe
St. John’s IceCaps / Jeff Parsons

Last summer, one of the first free agent-acquisitions by Marc Bergevin was defenceman Philip Samuelsson, the son of NHL veteran Ulf Samuelsson. Samuelsson was to provide an element that was missing from the IceCaps’ blue line: veteran experience.

Things started off well, as he began the season on the top defensive pairing with Mark Barberio, and put up four points in the first nine games. But his offensive production suddenly ceased and there were many nights that he was simply a passenger on a team that desperately needed his experience and leadership.

As the season wore on, the IceCaps signed veteran defenceman Julien Brouillette from the Ligue Nord-Americain de Hockey. Brouillette was more effective both physically and offensively, and as a result Samuelsson ended up a healthy scratch.

On February 21, 2017, Bergevin began his march towards the trade deadline by trading Samuelsson to the Carolina Hurricanes, more specifically the Charlotte Checkers, where Ulf was the head coach. In return he received defenceman Keegan Lowe, who is the son of Edmonton Oilers president Kevin Lowe.

Lowe was a breath of fresh air for the IceCaps as they finally had a steady veteran defenceman in their lineup. He didn’t have to deal with the same expectations as Samuelsson thanks to Zach Redmond and Joel Hanley establishing themselves as the top defensive pair for the IceCaps, helping Lowe slot in comfortably in a second-pairing role.

In that capacity, Lowe provided the IceCaps with more offence than Samuelsson in about half the time, tallying six points in 22 games. More importantly, he was among the team’s best with a +8 goal differential, highlighting the defensive benefit that Lowe brought to the team.

The penalty kill also improved with Lowe’s help, but it still remained a sore point for the team. They continued to struggle, having the worst penalty-kill percentage in the league when playing at home.

Come the playoffs, Lowe was pretty flat for the first three games. He was eventually scratched in favour of newcomer Noah Juulsen for Game Four due to an injury. Lowe ultimately watched the IceCaps’ season come to end from the press box.

He becomes a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the season, and there has been no indication that the Canadiens will offer him a new deal, though he is arbitration eligible. He gave the farm team a veteran presence that it needed so badly, making the minor-league trade a big win for Bergevin and the IceCaps, and played a part in getting the club its first post-season berth in quite some time.

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