Gimme a D!

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

The quest to fill the void left by the departure of Chris Pronger and Jaroslav Spacek continued yesterday for the Edmonton Oilers.

They acquired the rights to defenceman Jan Hejda from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Hejda, 28, a native of Prague, Czech Republic, has played his entire career in Europe.

"He's an experienced defenceman internationally," said Oilers assistant general manager Scott Howson. "He's played in World Championships and has had a pretty good career over in Europe.

"He's someone we've had our eye on for a couple of years now. Frank Musil, our scout over there, speaks very highly of him and has watched him closely over the last couple of years."

Last season Hejda played with Mytishi Khimik of the Russian Super League, scoring three goals and adding 12 assists in 50 games. He then went on to score two goals and added three assists in nine playoff contests.

The six-foot-three, 209-pound blue liner has been a member of the Czech national team since 2003.

And although he was not a member of the 2006 Czech Olympic team, he has played in four world championships, winning a silver medal this spring and a gold medal last spring.

Originally Buffalo's fourth choice (106th overall) in the 2003 draft, Hejda never did sign with the Sabres.

"He is a name that has sort of been on our radar for a while," Howson said. "We were looking to see what Buffalo was going to do with him because they did draft him in 2003 and they couldn't come to a deal for one reason or another.

"He was still there, he was still on Buffalo's list and now that we have some spots on our defence we thought that we'd inquire about him. We hope we can sign him. We've already started discussions. Until you get him signed you never know, but we're certainly hopeful of bringing him over."

Last week the Oilers signed defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist to a one-year contract in an effort to try to rebuild their blue line.

They also acquired Ladislav Smid in the trade which sent Pronger to the Anaheim Ducks.

Spacek signed with the Sabres earlier this month.

With 27 goals in nine seasons in Europe, Hedja is not expected to provide a lot of offence from the back end.

"He's more of a two-way player," Howson said. "He's probably more defensive than offensive. We're hoping he can eat up some minutes for us and play good, solid defence and whatever offence would come would be a bonus. We're not expecting him to be an offensive defenceman."

With a seventh-round pick, the Oilers did not have to give up a lot to get Hedja's rights.

Therefore, the team does not have a lot to lose if the defenceman doesn't come over or doesn't pan out.

"Buffalo would potentially lose his rights, so they were looking to try to get something out of the player," Howson said. "They get an extra pick out of the draft and we get a player that might be able to help us now, so it was a good fit for both teams."

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STAYING OR GOING?

Radek Dvorak told a Czech website he was not interested in leaving Edmonton, refuting what his agent Ritch Winter reportedly told a local media outlet last week.

But yesterday, Winter wasn't talking. Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson said the Oilers have nothing imminent with Dvorak right now.

"We haven't talked to his agent Ritch Winter in a little while. There is nothing on the front burner with Radek," Howson said.

"... We really like him. He was a really good player for us here. You never say never. I think at this point, he made the decision that he wants to explore what's out there and we've brought in another forward since he made that decision."

NOTES ... The Oilers are expected to announce today they'll hold training camp in Grande Prairie this year.


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