SUN Hockey Pool

Stastny signs on!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Opportunity knocked. Kevin Lowe answered. Yan Stastny is an Edmonton Oiler.

Stastny isn't Chris Pronger. And he isn't Michael Peca. But he's interesting. Pronger and Peca involved a lot of work and money for GM Kevin Lowe. Stastny involved very little of either. The agent, Matt Keator, and Boston GM Mike O'Connell did everything but knock on Lowe's door wearing Santa Claus and Easter Bunny outfits.

"My father and my agent both thought it best if we parted ways with Boston. They already had their whole team set up," said Stastny, a centre who finished fourth in the Eishockey Liga in scoring and rang up 33 goals and 83 points in 95 games with Nurnberg the past two seasons.

"We were basically looking for a team which wanted me. The Oilers looked like the right fit. They have a younger organization. They are more of a skating team. It's a great city. My dad really loves that city. It's the right fit for me."

SMART LIKE HIS DAD

Lowe says the kid, who basically grew up in the USA, is smart like his dad, who headed Slovakian hockey after the split with the Czech Republic, leading them to a world championship in 2002.

"I'm pretty excited about it," said Lowe after he made the deal and signed Peter Stastny's son to a two-year contract.

"I watched him play at the World Hockey Championships. I think he's a great story. I don't like to make comparisons. But he thinks the game like his dad. He skates like his dad. And he fits the mould of an Oiler."

If there's one guy headed to the Sept. 5 Oilers' rookie camp who is going to play here this year, it's Stastny -- not any of those kids the Oilers drafted in the last two years. It was in Quebec City when I was covering the Canadian team's pre-tournament run that the USA showed up with Stastny as a surprise late addition to their team.

Being that Peter had played all those years in Quebec with the Nordiques and that's where Yan had been born, he was a pretty big story. Then he played. And he became a bigger story. Then he made the U.S. team and didn't look at all out of place with the Americans at the world championships. "Obviously, he's a late bloomer," said Lowe.

Yan says he thinks so, too. And he says people shouldn't be surprised by that. "My dad said he was a late bloomer, too. Everybody in the family was a late bloomer," he said of people like his uncle Anton.

"Stastny had some issues with Boston and Mike O'Connell was pretty frank about it. The price was right. And he's a player we can have for 20 years. This is not like signing a kid out of junior," said Lowe of the 22-year-old, whom the Bruins traded back to the Oilers to replace the fourth-round draft choice from the Brad Isbister deal.

"Maturity-wise Yan Stastny is ready to play in the NHL. He's certainly ready to challenge for a position on the team."

The Oilers have 24 contracts and 23 spots -- 15 forwards and 14 spots. He's in the mix. If Stastny makes it, Atlanta GM Don Waddell draws an assist on the play. He saw Stastny playing in Germany last year and, as head of the USA entry to the World Hockey Championships, gave him a spot on the team.

"Waddell picking me to that team really helped me a lot in moving forward. I had a great year in Germany. Being selected to play for Team USA was a great honour. To play at that level with NHL players really helped me confidence-wise."

SKATED WITH DOUG WEIGHT

Lowe called Stastny yesterday moments after he skated off the ice following a practice with ex-Oiler Doug Weight in St. Louis. "Dougie had nothing but great things to say about the town and the organization," said Stastny. "He said he loved the city and the people up there and that I'd love it because it was so hockey-based."

Most Oiler fans are still waiting for Lowe to deliver one more piece to the puzzle with the couple million bucks he's still under the Oilers budget.

Was this it? "No," said Lowe. "This is a bonus."


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