Six pack for draft

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

While the NHL Entry Draft will remain scaled down because of the timing of ratification of the tentative collective bargaining agreement, the Edmonton Oilers will be sending a full contingent to Ottawa.

Teams will still be limited as to how many people they can have at the table on July 30, but the NHL has made provisions to provide teams conference rooms and the Oilers will bring their entire scouting staff.

"It'll be six people at the table, including your computer guy, but you can have a room for the scouts," V-P of hockey operations Kevin Prendergast said. "We can switch things up each round and bring a couple different guys to the table. It's good for them, it's good for morale. The draft wouldn't be the same without it."

Prendergast originally intended to hold a conference call with his staff following the lottery to determine selection order, but that changed with developments over the last 48 hours - including word that the NHL has reversed its stance on holding the lottery behind closed doors.

The draft is the highlight of the year for scouts, who put in ridiculous miles and hours during the season, so this is a welcome change.

"It's a big thing for them," Prendergast said. "They worked hard all year in a tough situation, so it's a real positive than we can get together as a staff and be there when the big day comes."

The scouting staff will arrive in Ottawa next Thursday.

THE DOTTED LINE: Assistant GM Scott Howson is up to his eyeballs in paperwork preparing qualifying offers for restricted free agents and working on signing 2003 draft picks Marc-Antoine Pouliot, J.F. Jacques and Troy Bodie by July 28.

Offers to restricted free agents Eric Brewer, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Jussi Markkanen, Marty Reasoner, Jani Rita, Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll, Raffi Torres, Igor Ulanov and Mike York must be made by July 31.

Expect changes to the conditions involving qualifying offers under the new CBA. In the past, players earning under the league average salary had to be offered a 10% increase for a team to retain their rights. Details will be announced after ratification.

The period for buying out players under contract begins this Saturday and continues through July 29.

Players aside, virtually everyone in hockey operations with the Oilers needs new contracts, including assistant coaches Bill Moores, Charlie Huddy and Craig Simpson as well as the training and equipment staff.

SCOUT HIRED: Prendergast's staff has grown by one as former Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Kent Hawley has been hired as an amateur scout.

Hawley, 37, who was selected 28th overall in 1986, never played in the NHL but spent nine years in the minors before taking an assistant coaching job with the Madison Monsters of the Colonial Hockey League in 1995-96. He last coached with Huntsville of the Central Hockey League in 2000-01.

Hawley will be in Ottawa with the rest of the staff. He'll have eastern Ontario as his territory.

WARD IN DEMAND: The Oilers are still looking for a place in the organization for Geoff Ward, who coached the Road Runners last season, but unless they find something soon he'll likely be picked off by another team. Anaheim talked to Ward about coaching the Portland Pirates of the AHL, but hired Kevin Dineen. It's more likely Ward will land one of the remaining coaching gigs in the AHL than end up on the Oilers scouting staff.

BACK TO WORK: Oilers coach Craig MacTavish was strolling sun-baked fairways in Kelowna yesterday and will sneak in another round or two of golf before it'll be time to get back to business, but with Friday's vote to ratify the CBA looming, he knows the lazy days of summer are dwindling.

MacTavish and his staff will soon be back in town to put their heads together.

"We'll get together at the end of the month," MacTavish said. "We'll start putting a team together and see who we're going to go after.

"We're also going to have to spend some time talking over the impact of the new rules all the teams will be looking at."


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