SUN Hockey Pool

Calling the shots

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

It doesn't take a clairvoyant to figure out Kevin Lowe's wish list as the Edmonton Oilers begin their post-Olympic schedule and the March 9 NHL trade deadline approaches.

With 58 games in the books, goaltending - stop the presses - remains the glaring area of concern, and it's between the pipes where Lowe will spend most of his time trying to upgrade.

Also on the to-do list is acquiring more scoring and solidifying the fourth line, which has been as much of a dog's breakfast this season as the puck-stopping trifecta of Ty Conklin, Jussi Markkanen and Mike Morrison.

Lowe, of course, isn't inclined to share his thoughts on such matters with reporters beyond the obligatory "Expect the unexpected" tease that sets the hearts of fans aflutter with visions of Roberto Luongo and other pie-in-the-sky fantasy.

Likewise, Lowe loathes the guesswork and speculation that goes hand-in-hand with reporters trying to find out what he does not want them to know.

Fair enough.

It's also fair, barring a tell-all call from Lowe to set the record straight, to play GM for a day.

In other words, rather than guessing what Lowe is up to, here's what I'd do, or try to do.

If I was calling the shots . . .

CALLING CUJO

With Jose Theodore and his busted heel off the block, Olaf Kolzig and Marc Denis apparently going nowhere and Mike O'Connell reluctant to part with Andrew Raycroft, the first call goes to GM Mike Barnett in Phoenix about Curtis Joseph.

Joseph, 38, isn't the stopper he was in the 177 games he played with the Oilers in parts of three seasons, 1995-98, but he's an upgrade on Conklin, Markkanen and Morrison.

Joseph's numbers with Phoenix this season, 22-16-2 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .899 saves-percentage, are pretty much what they were in his first tour here, when he went 76-76-20 with a 2.90 GAA with saves-percentages of .886, .907 and .905.

An unrestricted free agent July 1, Joseph, whose base salary is $950,000, is a perfect rental, a proven commodity and the last Oiler goaltender to win a playoff series, beating Dallas in 1997 and Colorado in 1998.

He's also got 15 post-season shutouts.

If Barnett moves into sell-mode and isn't asking a top-nine forward, a top six defenceman or prospects Robbie Schremp or Andrew Cogliano, the price could be right, assuming the Coyotes will take a goaltender in the deal.

Failing that, Martin Biron of Buffalo is probably the next best bet, although there will be more competition for him and GM Darcy Regier will be asking for a significant roster player.

If that roster player isn't named Chris Pronger, Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky, Jarret Stoll, Jason Smith, Shawn Horcoff, Ethan Moreau or Matt Greene, there's something to talk about.

SCORING PUNCH

As for added scoring punch, and assuming Rick Nash and Dany Heatley aren't available, I'd be looking at Geoff Sanderson of the Coyotes and Mark Parrish of the New York Islanders.

Sanderson, 34, still has wheels and has 333 career goals, 17 of them with the Coyotes this season.

Sanderson can play centre or left wing and he's unrestricted in July, leaving the Oilers on the hook for only what's left of his $2.508 million salary this season.

Parrish, 29, has been knocked as a poor skater, but he's a six-time 20-goal scorer on right wing who'll be in demand if the Islanders slip out of playoff contention.

He's scored 22 goals this season after adding another one last night and is earning $1.9 million on a one-year deal.

As for a fourth-liner, Jim Dowd of the Chicago Blackhawks would fit the bill in a second stint here, as would Dallas Drake of the St. Louis Blues, who are in town tonight.

Dowd, 37, is up for grabs and was in the mix the last time the Oilers had any semblance of a consistent fourth line, playing pivot between Georges Laraque and Boyd Devereaux for 69 games in 1999-2000. What's left of his $525,000 salary fits the budget.

Drake, also 37, is a nasty so-and-so who knows his role and is a plus-57 in 869 career games.

With the Blues out of playoff contention, I'd be trying to convince GM Larry Pleau to send Drake down the back hall before blowing town.

Better yet, before tonight's game.

But that, like the other moves, is just me.


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