The Oilers and winger Fernando Pisani are moving along nicely in their contract talks - so well in fact that Pisani's agent Mark Witkin thinks they could have a deal in place before July 1.
It's been widely assumed that Pisani, an Edmonton boy, wouldn't ever leave Edmonton, but after a playoff like his the Oilers definitely don't want to take any chances.
Better they get him wrapped up before somebody else decides to make a play for a physical, two-way player who can lead the playoffs in goal scoring.
"He certainly will be wanted by a number of teams (if he becomes unrestricted July 1)," said Witkin, whose client gets a big bump from $611,000 he made last year. "But we might very well have a deal done before that ever happens. We've set the table, now we have to see if there's a meal that could possibly be cooked."
Talks are also ongoing with Dwayne Rolson ($1.672 million last year), who is also represented by Witkin, but it seems doubtful they'll get it done by Saturday.
"It's been nothing other than who will be available for talking when," said Witkin. "Nothing substantive has happened."
Of the 10 Oilers (11 when they don't exercise the option on Todd Harvey) eligible for unrestricted free agency July 1, don't expect more than three or four to be here next year. They're hot on the trails of Roloson, Pisani and Jaroslav Spacek;after that it's going to be a lot of goodbyes.
The Oilers have a lot of cap room (if you don't count Chris Pronger, they have just over $12 million committed to next season's $39 to $40 million budget), but some of the 11 were simply rent-a-players (Michael Peca and Sergei Samsonov), some no longer fit into the plans (Igor Ulanov, Harvey), and some might decide for themselves to move on (Dick Tarnstrom and Rem Murray). Radek Dvorak and Georges Laraque might still be in the plans. Or not.
"Some of the people we signed as unrestricted free agents were on a temporary assignment, they knew it and we knew it," said president Patrick LaForge. "And then there's some long-term people that we need to negotiate and come to terms with."
TARNSTROM LEAVING?: Tarnstrom's stock went up with his play in the final, and then again when Pronger's announcement short-staffed the blueline, but he might be out of the picture next season. The Oilers want him back, but Tarnstrom is giving serious thought to returning to Europe.
REM PONDERS FUTURE: Rem Murray, meanwhile, who went from feel-good story to solid contributor in the playoffs, probably won't be back either.
The Oilers are interested in another year if Murray is, but having to play for free (his salary goes to pay back the insurance he received when a nerve disorder in his neck seemingly ended his career) is a lot to ask. He's considering retirement.
COACH'S CORNERED: Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe are at work on the head coach's new contract, which should be in place soon.