SUN Hockey Pool

Into the fishbowl

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

From the ocean to the fish bowl.

Welcome to Edmonton, Guy They Traded Chris Pronger For.

They'll be putting 'Lupul' on the back of his sweater, but the 22-year-old knows he'll be forever linked to a deal that saw the best defenceman in hockey going the other way.

"It's kind of a tough spot, a young guy getting traded for a player of his calibre," said Fort Saskatchewan forward Joffrey Lupul, who knows he's walking into a world of high expectations.

"What I have to do is play how I play. I can't worry about who I was traded for. I have to come here and do the things I know I can do."

What he does is score goals, 28 in a limited role with the Anaheim Ducks last season. He'll have to score a lot of them here before fans are entirely at ease with a swap that saw him, prospect defenceman Ladislav Smid and three draft picks (first round in 2007, a conditional first-round pick in 2008 and a second-round pick in 2008) as returns for Pronger.

IT'S A COMPLIMENT

"It's a pretty big compliment to be traded for a player like that. I played against him in the playoffs and saw what he can do. I'm sure he'll be missed here, but I'm here now with some big shoes to fill. There's going to be a lot of expectations, hopefully I can meet those."

Oilers management think he can.

"He's a big strong kid, we've liked Joffrey for a long time," said vice-president of hockey operations Kevin Prendergast. "He played very well against us in the playoffs this year. He can help our power play, he scored 28 goals this year and we feel he can give us more than that next year."

With 53 points in his sophomore season, and nine goals in 16 playoff games (including four against the Colorado Avalanche) Lupul is a 30-goal man whose arrival gives Edmonton a dynamic group of forwards - Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Fernando Pisani, Raffi Torres and Jarret Stoll.

"For an offensive player it's a great place to be," he said. "We have a lot of talent up front, young guys. It's going to be an exciting team."

And, being a local kid, there's very little danger that he'll up and ask for a trade a year from now.

"I grew up watching this team, probably still have an Oilers jersey in my closet somewhere," said Lupul, who was already in the neighbourhood, vacationing at Sylvan Lake when the trade came down.

'IT'S A GOOD FIT'

"I know already it's a good fit. The good thing for me is I'm coming to a place where I'm comfortable and to an organization I think is going in the right direction. I watched that team beat us in playoffs, it's a pretty promising team.

"And I know pretty much all the guys, which makes it a lot easier, too. From being around town we skate together in the summer. It makes it a little easier to go to a place where I have some friends and know a lot of the guys."

The only adjustment, one he isn't entirely unfamiliar with, having watched his boyhood idols deal with it, is the Edmonton fishbowl. He's not just an Oiler, he's the Oiler who was traded for Chris Pronger.

"It's exciting to be in a place where hockey really matters again. Down there it's nice because no one knows you from the next guy, but here I'm looking forward to a bit more attention, a lot more attention, I guess.

"It's going to be fun to be in a place where hockey means so much to people."

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JOFFREY LUPUL

Age: 22

Born: Edmonton

Drafted: By the Ducks in the first round (7th overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft

Recent history: Just completed second season in NHL, posting NHL career-highs in offensive categories including goals (28), assists (25), points (53), power-play goals (12) and short-handed goals (2).

Career highlight: Became first player in NHL history to score four goals in a game - in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against Colorado.


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