Penner playing catch up

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Dustin Penner is coming off of the same kind of all-too-short summer that derailed Edmonton last year. He and the Cup-champion Ducks played well into June, then Penner spent a good portion of his off-season savouring the championship.

He, like the Oilers last season, isn't as fresh as he'd like to be heading into camp, but feels confident he'll be up to speed before long.

"I'm definitely playing catch-up a bit," said the mammoth winger, who's coming off a 29-goal campaign. "The good thing about these guys is they pressure me every day. Seeing what great shape they're in and ready to go for the season helps with my getting ready."

Penner, who's expected to play on the first line with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, is skating with Horcoff and Zack Stortini in scrimmages.

"He's a guy who seems really easy to play with," said Horcoff. "You know what you're going to get with him. He's great along the wall. He's going to be able to get you those loose pucks and win those battles. He's going to create some space for whoever he plays with.

"If it's me and Hemmer it's going to be pretty welcome. Anytime you get space and time you should be able to make plays."

At $4.25 million a year, a 1,000% increase on the $450,000 he made before GM Kevin Lowe stole him out of Anaheim with a Group 2 offer sheet, he knows the fans are expecting a lot from him.

"It's a different pressure than I faced last year, there's more onus on me," he said. "Lucky for me I have a great supporting cast. I'll play the game that got me here and the rest will take care of itself."

SHELDON SHELVED

Defenceman Sheldon Souray missed the first day of camp after hurting himself during fitness testing Thursday.


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