Room for one more?

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:25 PM ET

One more move?

Kevin Lowe knows the question is out there. Even with the acquisitions of Chris Pronger and Michael Peca, the Edmonton Oilers GM knows fans want another deal before the puck drops on the 2005-06 season.

The call, as always, is for Lowe to get his hands on the No. 1 centre the Oilers haven't had since Doug Weight was traded to St. Louis in a salary dump. A proven point-producer. There is the need. As important, he's got salary cap wiggle room.

Peca, a two-time Selke Trophy winner and a valuable addition, isn't quite that guy, in the minds of many. Shawn Horcoff? Not there yet. Maybe never.

That leaves Lowe with Peca, Horcoff, Jarret Stoll, Marty Reasoner and Robbie Schremp, who has a shot of making the team, as pivots at the top of the depth chart going into training camp, which opens Sept. 13.

One more move? Lowe understands the sentiment. But, unless someone picks up the telephone and knocks his socks off - hello, Kevin, it's Lou Lamoriello - he isn't in any hurry.

It's a definite, well, maybe.

"Yes and no," Lowe said, asked if he feels compelled to make a deal for a top-line centre. "Do we feel some sort of unending need to fill that hole at centre? Not right now.

"We're comfortable to start the year the way we are and see how things unfold. If Horcoff and Peca and Stoll and Reasoner are at the level we think they can be, we're comfortable with our centres. Then again, if San Jose phoned today and said. 'We want to trade Patrick Marleau' ... The reality is that's not there."

Right now, maybe is as firm as it gets.

TRADE BAIT

Could Ryan Smyth be trade bait if the right player - the example of Marleau would qualify - was offered? Could Mark Messier bolster the middle if a real No. 1 guy can't be acquired?

Yes and yes. But don't count on either.

There's been plenty of speculation Smyth could be dealt. The talk grows with each day Smyth remains unsigned, even though Lowe has insisted No. 94 will be an Oiler this season.

Lowe and Smyth's agent, Don Meehan, have a one-year deal on the table. They're exploring a multi-year deal. They talked again yesterday. Smyth will be under contract, one way or another, when camp opens Sept. 16.

"Ryan's been a valuable and appreciated member of the Oilers," Lowe said.

"He's one of the guys in the last decade who's embodied what the Oilers are about. That's important to me. For me, it's just a matter of figuring out his market and the (overall) market."

And Messier? Lowe's talked to him. And he will again.

The Moose knows if he wants to play again, and at the right price, Lowe will make room for him here.

With each passing day, however, it's becoming obvious Messier will resist the temptation to end his NHL career where it began and decide it's time to hang 'em up and head for the Hall of Fame.

I'd bet Messier will be here Oct. 18 when the Oilers hoist Paul Coffey's No. 7 jersey to the rafters at Rexall Place - in street clothes.

Messier's twirl at the Heritage Classic was his swan song in Oilers silks.

Of course, anything is possible, but the best bet is Lowe will stand pat until he sees how things shake out at camp and what teams, if any, are looking to deal because of cap issues.

TIPPED HIS HAND

Speaking of that, New Jersey and Lamoriello come to mind. Lowe tipped his hand ever-so-slightly the other day on the Team 1260 when he suggested "the vultures are circling," with Lou in a cap bind.

In that context, if you're looking for situations that might convince Lowe to make a move sooner than later, keep the name Viktor Kozlov in mind. It's a definite maybe.


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