SUN Hockey Pool

Oil hoping school's out for Greene

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

The Edmonton Oilers would love to have University of North Dakota defenceman Matt Greene declare his intention to turn pro, but the Fighting Sioux captain will return to school for a fourth season in 2005-06.

"Right now, I'm staying in school and going to class, just relaxing and trying to let my body heal," Greene told the Grand Forks Herald this week. "Nothing has changed for me. I haven't talked to the Oilers. I don't know what their intentions are."

Greene, who celebrates his 22nd birthday on May 13, was taken 44th overall by the Oilers in the 2002 Entry Draft. Greene tallied 2-8-10 and he led UND with 126 penalty minutes through 43 games this season.

He's big, tough and mobile. And the consensus with the Oilers' scouting staff is the six-foot-three, 225-pound rearguard from Grand Ledge, Michigan, is good enough to turn pro right now.

That said, the decision is up to Greene. If he signs a contract, even at the AHL level, he will give up his final year of eligibility at UND, which went to the final of the Frozen Four before losing to Denver University this season.

"Certainly, we'd be interested," Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson said this week. "We think he's a fine prospect, obviously."

Uncertainty over the 2005-06 NHL season, given the state of negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement, has several collegians reluctant to forgo eligibility.

ALLISON HEALTHY: With Jason Allison - who hasn't played an NHL game since January 2003 because of impaired vision and headaches brought on by whiplash-like neck injuries - declaring himself healthy earlier this month, don't be surprised to see the Oilers pitching for him again if a new CBA gets done.

Allison, an unrestricted free agent who turns 30 in May, says he's symptom-free. Allison and agent Bryant McBride talked to as many as 15 teams last summer, and the Oilers, in need of a centre to take the No. 1 spot vacated by Petr Nedved, were one of those teams.

The Oilers talked to McBride more than once and GM Kevin Lowe has since reiterated his desire to address the need of a first-line centre.

"I think I'm an interesting guy for a lot of teams," Allison told the Boston Globe. "Whoever gets me is getting a point-a-game guy for a lot less than the going rate because, I know, wherever I sign, it's going to be a deal based on games played and points."

Allison, who missed all of the 2003-04 season, has been working out near Toronto without complications.


Videos

Photos