SUN Hockey Pool

No rest for the weary

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Let's hope Kevin Lowe enjoyed his off-season, because it's over.

Normally, and unfortunately, there is a two-month break between Edmonton's late-April playoff exit and the start of the summer free-agent frenzy. This time, thanks to an incredible Stanley Cup run that extended into late June, it is barely more than a week.

Throw in the NHL Entry Draft and Chris Pronger soap opera into that week and there's virtually no time at all for Oilers management to recover from last year before getting started on next.

"We just finished Game 7, then the draft and now July 1 is staring us in the face," said player agent Neil Abbott, whose client Sergei Samsonov becomes an unrestricted free agent on Canada Day.

"The time frame is pretty compressed."

So compressed that Abbott and the Oilers haven't even had time to talk yet.

NO SAMSONOV TALK YET

"Right now there's nothing," said Abbott. "But I'm certain that at some point we'll talk. I'm cognizant of the fact there are some other issues on Kevin's plate that are a little more pressing at the moment. He's got Dwayne Roloson and Chris Pronger at the top of the list."

Roloson's agent Mark Witkin says recent developments on the Oilers front have stalled his negotiations, as well.

"We've had some talks," said Witkin. "But the whole thing was put off by the playoff run, then the draft, and now the Pronger thing. I think it set the situation back a little."

Things have been so crazy that it's going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for Edmonton to get any of its 10 unrestricted free agents locked up before July 1 - not that many of them would be eager to sign before getting a look at what the open market has to offer.

"Everything is right upon us, we're not talking a whole lot of the time," said Witkin. "That's why it was positive that we at least had some initial conversations. But I think for the most part, everybody is going to go to July 1. "The Oilers probably want to do that, too."

Roloson is one of Edmonton's highest priorities. His brilliant work in the playoffs means he's definitely getting a bump on his $1.67-million salary. But how much and how long?

"The playoffs certainly helped him," said Witkin. "He's in an area where the compensation is a lot of money."

Roloson would like the security of a three- or four-year pact, but isn't married to the idea.

"I think that would be appropriate, but he's open to anything that is reasonable. He wants to give Edmonton the opportunity to try and do a deal. He has no reason not to do that."

You mean the Rolosons like it here?

"I've always felt that you play where you're happy and I know he was happy there in Edmonton," said Witkin.

EASTERN MIGRATION?

Samsonov, like Michael Peca, will probably migrate back east, where he spent the better part of eight seasons before coming to Edmonton at the trade deadline. But playoff success might just have won him over.

"He's been in the east his whole career," said Abbott. "But this is the farthest he's ever gone in the playoffs. There was nothing close to it in Boston. I think he won one round in eight years till he got to Edmonton. The fans were great to him. It was a good experience, a really exciting situation, so he's wide open."


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