For Beau Akey, it was simple. He didn’t care which team called his name at the NHL Draft in Nashville, just as long as someone gave him the opportunity to keep chasing his dream.
That the strong skating, puck moving Barrie Colts defenceman was drafted 57th overall in the second round by the Edmonton Oilers and their high-powered offence on Thursday afternoon, he agreed it all seemed to make sense.
“It is a very good fit,” Akey said of how of the Oilers’ style of game suits his.
“I can be a valuable piece. At least I hope I will be in the future,” added the six-foot, 174-pound blueliner who had 11 goals and 36 assists for 47 points in 66 games in his second season with Barrie. “Breaking out pucks and moving pucks is my strong suit, so I’m definitely excited.’
And even better, the opportunity he has now to get to play with arguably the world’s best two hockey players in superstar forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
It’s one thing to dream of feeding them pucks in your own backyard rink, but the chance to take the ice with them in an NHL game is unreal for any young hockey prospect.
“Definitely,” said the 17-year-old native of Waterloo who admitted it’s hard to contain his excitement about one day possibly having McDavid and Draisaitl as teammates. “They’re No. 1 and No. 2 in the world and you can’t get much better than that.”
While it may have taken perhaps a wee bit longer than expected, Akey felt the weight of the world come off his shoulders when he heard the Oilers call his name.
It’s been a long road getting here and it’s nice to know where it’s finally leading.
“It was just a big relief,” said Akey, getting a chance to catch his breath after a day he and his family will never forget. “My stomach was turning and I was so excited. I had the biggest smile on my face.
“It was just a big relief.”
And it was special he got to share his big day with those closest to him, including his parents, David and Lisa, along with his brother Tanner, grandfather Charles and girlfriend.
“Oh yeah, a 100 per cent,” said Akey, who taken 19th overall by the Colts in the 2021 OHL Priority Selection. “It only happens once and you want to cherish every moment of it. It was definitely special for everybody and for my whole support team to be here.”
Akey joins a franchise with a long history and tradition, one with a dynasty led by Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier that brought several Stanley Cups out west.
“I was happy to be with any team, but it’s definitely a very cool opportunity to go out west,” he said. “It’s an original team out there in Edmonton that has some history, so I’m super excited that they are Canadian. It brings more Canadian pride to the team.”
Edmonton seems to be a team on the rise, something Akey would love to be a part of. The Oilers got to the second round before losing to the Vegas Knights, the eventual Cup champions.
“They got a bright future out in Edmonton and I’m hoping to be part of it,” said Akey, who will head out west to Edmonton on Saturday for rookie prospects camp.
Akey believes he can be a two-way defender for the Oilers, but knows he’ll have to work hard to improve the defensive side of his game.
That means taking that next step in Barrie. Early in the year he took on a big role as the key man on the point for the Colts before the return of Brandt Clarke.
He gleaned as much as he could from the Colts captain’s game and now that top Kings prospect is off to Los Angeles, Akey believes it’s his opportunity to show can be the guy all year.
“I’m looking forward to coming back to Barrie and prove myself even more,” he said.
The day winding down, the Oilers newest prospect finally got the chance to catch his breath and think about the whirlwind the last few weeks have been.
“It’s definitely a little insane,” said Akey.
ICE CHIPS: Orillia native and Owen Sound Attack forward Colby Barlow went 18th overall in the first round to the Winnipeg Jets. . . Midhurst native Larry Keenan was taken in the fourth round (117th overall) by the Detroit Red Wings. The six-foot-three defender is expected to play with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League this fall. . . Colts forwards Beau Jelsma, Jacob Frasca and defenceman Connor Punnett were not taken in the draft.
Photo credit – Collin Jennings – Barrie Colts