In an out of order edition of Edmonton Oilers A to Z, we profile new defender Keith Aulie. A towering player at 6’6, Aulie is a journeyman, one of those hockey nomads who gets shifted from team to team, not unlike his new teammate Benoit Pouliot, who finds the Oilers as his sixth team.
Aulie spent four years with the Brandon Wheat Kings before getting signed by the Calgary Flames. Aulie spent all of his time with that organization with their farm team, the Abbotsford Heat. He never spent a day as call up.
It would be the Toronto Maple Leafs who would sign him next. In his time with their farm team, the Toronto Marlies, Aulie would get to know current head coach of the Oilers, Dallas Eakins. He spent five years in their system, but never quite caught on with the NHL club. (Does ANYONE catch on with the Leafs? The Oilers are no shining gem, but, lordy, the Leafs are a troubled organization.)
Aulie was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning after his time with Toronto. He spent a while with them, but had a few injury struggles and wasn’t qualified as a RFA. Ironically, Aulie, Benoit Pouliot, and Teddy Purcell—all signed as UFA’s by the Oilers this year—were teammates together in Florida.
Clearly, Eakins had some input into this acquisition. As mentioned, Aulie is a massive man, ringing in at a healthy 228 pounds. He will likely slot in as a 7th d-man, or a regular on the third pairing. He is the kind of player the Oilers were looking for in Andy Sutton before his injuries ended his career. The advantage with Aulie is that he is 25 years old and can still improve his game.
Aulie hasn’t stuck with a club yet, and like many oversized defenders, lacks foot speed in an increasingly fast game. But, hockey isn’t all speed and finesse. Sometimes you need a scary, imposing figure out there to remind your opposition that the team is not to be screwed with. Aulie is that man.