Salmelainen appears to be finished

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

Tony Salmelainen's days with the Oilers organization appear to be over.

He played out the final year of his deal with the Road Runners and wasn't offered anything new, so he just signed a three-year deal to play in his homeland.

The Finnish deal has an NHL out. If he comes to camp in the fall and makes the team he'd be released from his overseas obligations. But that seems remote.

Salmelainen, drafted 41st overall in 1999, hasn't progressed like they'd hoped, hasn't shown enough strength on the puck to suggest he'd withstand the rigors of Calgary and Vancouver, and is being caught from behind by newer, bigger prospects like Brad Winchester.

"He'll come to camp," said GM Kevin Lowe. "What we've done with guys like that in the past is sign them to an NHL deal, and if he doesn't make the NHL team he'll be reassigned to Europe."

Lowe is heading off to the World Championships himself, but not because he misses being part of the Team Canada brass. He doesn't.

"It's great, but it's really time-consuming," he said. "I've done it a few times now and I've got my day job and I have a family.

"There's positives to it for the company, having Mac (Oiler coach Craig MacTavish) there is a positive, but the negative is I could be doing a lot of other stuff."

Like scouting the Worlds and Memorial Cup. With the NHL leaning towards a weighted lottery to determine the draft order when the labour dispute is settled, Edmonton could be picking as high as first overall.

That makes scouting a little tricky because you have to cover yourself at every area - from top five to bottom five.

"Normally by now we'd know where we finished so we could be honing in (on a particular batch of players)," said Lowe.

If they go with a lottery, it would be an inverse (or hockey pool) format where if you pick first, your next pick is 60th. If you pick 30th, your next pick is 31.


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