Beau Akey, Edmonton Oilers

4 Things to Know About Oilers’ Top Draft Pick Beau Akey

Recently the Edmonton Oilers selected Barrie Colts’ blueliner Beau Akey in the second round (56th overall) of the 2023 NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. It was the first of three picks for the Oilers, who later added goaltender Nathaniel Day and center Matt Copponi in the sixth (184th) and seventh (172nd) rounds, respectively.

Beau Akey Edmonton Oilers
Beau Akey, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The 18-year-old Akey notched 11 goals and 36 assists in 66 games with the Colts during the 2022-23 season. Over two regular seasons with the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) team, he has suited up for 127 games and totaled 63 points.

Akey stands at 6-foot, tips the scales at 173 pounds, and shoots right. Here are four more things to know about Edmonton’s newest blueline prospect.

Akey Was Widely Regarded by Draft Analysts

In several of the final pre-draft rankings, Akey appeared much higher than where the Oilers actually wound up selecting him, late in the second round.

NHL Central Scouting had Akey at No. 33 among North American skaters, while Elite Prospects (No. 32), Smaht Scouting (No. 34), FC Hockey (No. 38), and Recruit Scouting (No. 39) all listed the Barrie blueliner inside the top 40.

Related: Beau Akey- 2023 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Not everyone saw the same value in Akey. However, particularly at TSN, Bob McKenzie ranked him at No. 61, while his colleague Craig Button believed him to be a late third-round pick, slotting him all the way down at No. 94, which was by far the lowest any analyst ranked him.

Akey’s Father Played With Brendan Shanahan

Anyone who’s seen the footage from Akey at the draft knows that he’s an incredibly likable kid. Humble, upbeat, friendly, and always smiling, he seems like a genuinely nice guy — which is not something his father was often accused of being.

Away from the rink, David Akey was probably a pleasant young person, too. But during his major junior career in the late ’80s, Beau’s father was one of the nastiest dudes on the ice, racking up 382 penalty minutes over 176 total career regular season games with the London Knights and Sudbury Wolves in the OHL and the Hull Olympiques in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

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During a time when every team still had at least one enforcer, David Akey was the guy entrusted with protecting his more skilled teammates. In London, that included a 17-year-old sensation named Brendan Shanahan, who himself was no shrinking violet, recording 92 points and 126 penalty minutes in the 1986-87 OHL season.

Shanahan was drafted second overall in 1987 by the New Jersey Devils and immediately made the jump to the NHL. He went on to win three Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold medal en route to being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and currently serves as president and alternate governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

David Akey, meanwhile, was dealt to Sudbury in 1987-88 and concluded his hockey career after spending the 1988-89 season in Hull.

In a CHL TV feature, Beau talked about how his father passed on a love of the game and being able to draw on his father’s hockey experience for tips and feedback.

“He tries to give me little tips on how to play a little bit dirty and rough like he did back in the day, but I just say I’m more of a skill guy and he lets me go,” Beau said with a smile.

Akey Has Played With Fellow NHL Prospects in Barrie

Barrie has become a defensive prospect factory the last couple of years with Akey following the path of Artur Cholach, Brandt Clarke and Braden Hache, Colts blueliners who were selected in the 2021 NHL Draft at No. 190, 8, and 210, respectively.

Beau Akey, Barrie Colts
Beau Akey, Barrie Colts (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

All four have spent the past two years together on the backend in Barrie, with Clarke the first to make the NHL, playing nine games for the Los Angeles Kings at the start of the 2022-23 season before returning to the OHL. His experience proved beneficial to Akey, who discussed how the promising Kings prospect has helped him during an interview with broadcaster Zack Bodenstein prior to the draft.   

“It’s great that he went to L.A. this year and then whatever information he learned from L.A. he was able to implement into his game,” Akey said. “I saw that and learned from whatever he implemented, and I could try to implement that to play more of an NHL defensive style of game.”

Akey Is Only the Second Barrie Player Drafted by the Oilers

Edmonton has now made 408 Entry Draft selections since joining the NHL in 1979, but Akey is only the second to be picked while being a member of the OHL’s Colts. The other holds a somewhat dubious distinction in Oilers history.

In 1998, Edmonton used the 13th overall pick to select Michael Henrich out of Barrie. A 6-foot-2, 206-pound right wing, Henrich was ranked No. 5 among North American Skaters by NHL Central Scouting after potting 41 goals and adding 22 assists for the Colts in 1997-98.

After two more years in the OHL, Henrich joined Edmonton’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, in 2000. He spent four seasons in the AHL before heading to Europe, where he played pro for several years. He retired in 2014, having never made it to the NHL.

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To date, Henrich remains the highest draft pick ever selected by the Oilers to not dress for at least one NHL regular season game. They hope this Barrie prospect fares much better, with a trajectory that ultimately leads to the NHL. There’s no rush, though. Expect Akey to spend at least one more season in the OHL, as he continues to develop a game that will allow him to succeed at the next levels.

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