Opportunity knocks for Peca

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

With his name engraved on the Frank Selke Trophy twice, it's easy to forget Mike Peca does have a clue where the net is when debating his merits as the Edmonton Oilers top centre

While Peca is best-known for being named the NHL's top defensive forward twice, he's hit the 20-goal plateau four times during his NHL career, with a high of 27 goals in 1998-99 with Buffalo.

"He's very skilled," coach Craig MacTavish said of Peca after yesterday's late camp session at Rexall Place. "I expected that to a certain degree, but he's very capable of putting the puck in the net. He's a smart player. I'd be really disappointed if he didn't have 20-plus goals. I'd be very surprised."

Peca, 31, isn't going to take a run at a scoring title even with first-line ice time and new rules to open up the game, but he believes he'll flourish when it comes to producing points.

That's a luxury Peca hasn't often been afforded to this point in his career in stints with Vancouver, the New York Islanders and Buffalo.

"It all starts with the opportunity," Peca said. "When I first got to Long Island, it was the same sentiment there and it really gave me an opportunity to take advantage of offensive situations.

"I'm looking forward to it. I know I'm going to get the opportunity. The important thing is that mentally I've got to be prepared to play a more speed game than positional game that was common in the east."

Peca had 38 goals and 102 points with the Ottawa 67's during the 1992-93 season and followed that up with 50-63-113 in his next season with Ottawa. His career best in the NHL is 60 points, with New York in 2001-02.

SPEED DEMONS: Skating coach Steve Serdachny put the Oilers through their paces at the end of yesterday's sessions. As part of that, Serdachny measured players' acceleration and speed over lengths of 30 feet, 60 feet and 100 feet.

Two unlikely candidates, Marty Reasoner, who is coming off a serious knee injury and surgery, and big rookie Troy Bodie, turned some heads by putting up impressive times.


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