Captains fantastic

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

As Chris Pronger talked about his desire to play firewagon hockey in the Heartland of Hockey, GM Kevin Lowe made good use of some down time on a conference call organized to introduce his prize blueline catch.

He put the finishing touches on a trade that shipped Mike York and a 2006 conditional draft pick to the New York Islanders for Mike Peca.

A standout defenceman and former MVP of the league along with a clutch two-way centre - both of whom were the former teams' captains. Not a bad haul.

Pronger was on the block in St. Louis when the Blues opted to hold onto Doug Weight and Keith Tkachuk instead of their captain.

A five-year deal worth more than $30 million US made the move to Edmonton - in a late-Tuesday night deal for Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka - an opportunity the four-time all-star was waiting for.

COMMITMENT TO WINNING

"Every player wants to be wanted," said Pronger. "I got a long-term deal that I wanted. Seeing the type of commitment they were making to winning, it was a 10-minute talk with my wife and we were on to a new team and a new beginning. When (agent) Pat Morris called to tell me that we could get a deal done, I had butterflies in my stomach."

Peca, who was up for grabs as the Islanders looked for wing help for Alexei Yashin, joined the conference call and expressed his burning desire to join the free-wheeling Wild West Conference.

"I'm tremendously excited," said Peca. "I had that opportunity my rookie year in Vancouver and I'm looking forward to proving I can provide more offence now. I feel I have the offensive capabilities to score 25 to 30 goals - I have no doubt in my mind I can live up to that scenario."

With the acquisition of both Pronger and Peca, the Oilers snared a skilled defender and then latched onto a centre wanting to shed a defence-first image and show an offensive flare that had been stifled by the Islanders.

"For quite a few years in Long Island that was not my role and I was geared back in ice time in offensive situations," said Peca, who will make $3.99 million US this season on the final year of his contract.

"I'm looking forward to that opportunity again."

The newest member of the Oil got rave reviews from the man who had been the newest member only moments before. "I played with him on a number of Canadian teams in the last few years and I don't think there was a better two-way centre in the league the last five or six years," said Pronger.

BANKING ON PECA

Lowe is banking on Peca joining a group that includes usual suspects like Ryan Smyth, Ethan Moreau, Raffi Torres and Radek Dvorak along with emerging players like Ales Hemsky and Fernando Pisani.

He's hoping that between them, they will spark an offence that was ninth-best in the league in the last season. Peca may not be the true top-gun sniper that jumps to mind when thinking of a top offensive line, but Lowe liked the complete package and how he'll fit into a scoring-by-committee scheme.

"Whether he scores 20 goals or 10, he'll bring so much to the team with his overall game," said Lowe. "You can't quantify the value just from his statistics."

Pronger, who hails from Dryden, Ont., wasn't necessarily looking for a deal back to Canada.

"I just wanted to go somewhere where I would have fun and hopefully with that comes success," he said.


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