Edmonton Oilers draft Reid Schaefer, trade Zack Kassian

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The Edmonton Oilers drafted Reid Schaefer 32nd overall as the first round of the NHL Draft was held Thursday night in Montreal.

The 18-year-old left-winger plays for the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL. He had 32 goals and 26 points for 58 points in 66 games during the 2021/22 regular season.

In the playoffs, he helped the Thunderbirds reach the league final where they were beaten by the Edmonton Oil Kings. Schaefer had 21 points in 25 post-season games.

“I describe myself as a big two-way power forward that’s got that offensive upside. I’m a pretty unique player that is very versatile and can play up and down your lineup,” said Schaefer, who checks in at six-foot-three, 214 pounds.

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“He’s a big strong powerful guy,” said Oilers president of hockey operations and general manager Ken Holland. “If you want to be good, you’d like to have some big size on the wings. We like the character. He’s a local guy.”

Schaefer grew up in Spruce Grove, cheering for the Oilers.

“I had Oilers jerseys around the house when I was younger,” said Schaefer.

The Oilers were originally slated to pick 29th. They traded that pick, a third-rounder in 2024, a second-rounder in 2025, and winger Zack Kassian to the Arizona Coyotes for the 32nd pick.

Kassian joined the Oilers during the 2015/16 season and played 412 games for the club, racking up 135 points. The trade frees up cap room for the Oilers.

Kassian has two years remaining on a contract that pays him $3.2 million per season.

“I think obviously his role changed,” Holland said.

“When I signed him to that contract my first year here, (Kailer) Yamamoto was in the American League, (Jesse) Puljujarvi was in Finland, (Evander) Kane was somewhere else, (Zach) Hyman was in Toronto, (Ryan) McLeod was in Bakersfield. Over the last two years, all those players have started to hit our team. Our team got deeper. His role was greatly diminished.”

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Rounds two through seven of the draft will be held Friday. The Oilers next pick isn’t until round five.

Holland added he expects a decision on the future of defenceman Duncan Keith in the next day or two. Keith, who turns 39 on July 16, has one year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.5 million.

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