SUN Hockey Pool

Next up: Lupul

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

With Ales Hemsky signed, sealed and delivered, the Edmonton Oilers are now shifting their focus to Joffrey Lupul.

The 23-year-old winger was acquired by the Oilers in the deal that sent Chris Pronger to the Anaheim Ducks.

"I'm looking forward to getting my negotiations underway," Lupul said from California last night. "I knew they wanted to get those guys out of the way before they started negotiating with us, so I'm not too worried about it.

"Now that they've got that out of the way, I hope things go pretty smoothly."

Lupul scored 28 goals and added 25 assists for 53 points in 81 games with the Ducks last season.

He added nine goals and two assists in 16 playoff games.

He also made history by scoring four goals in one playoff game including the overtime winner against the Colorado Avalanche.

Lupul's original three-year, NHL entry-level contract with the Ducks expired at the end of the season. Last year the six-foot, 200-pound right winger made $900,600 with the Ducks. But unlike Hemsky, Stoll and Horcoff, Lupul does not have arbitration rights.

"That usually puts the whole level of discussion into another realm,"said Oilers assistant general manager Scott Howson. "It becomes a little simpler. I know what our position is going to be, we just haven't communicated it to Peter Semonick. We'll do that and then we'll see if there's a deal to be made."

So far the Oilers' payroll is at the mid $30-million mark. Lupul's scoring totals in Anaheim this year would put him sixth among the Oilers last year.

"This is a new situation for me," Lupul said. "My first contract we pretty much negotiated what you would get where I was drafted. So I'm not sure what is going to happen this time around. I'm just going to leave it in the hands of my agent and hopefully we can come to an agreement."

Lupul was the biggest asset to come back in the Pronger deal. He fits in with the young core of talent the Oilers locked up this summer.

It's a core Lupul is looking forward to playing with. "What I'm excited about is that they gave (Shawn) Horcoff a three-year deal, (Jarret) Stoll a two-year deal and Hemsky a six- year deal," Lupul said. "It's exciting that they have their core young guys locked up and together for the next few years."

LATE HITS: The Oilers are also still waiting for the Russian hockey federation to sign the NHL transfer agreement in order to bring over forward Alexei Mikhnov.

The Russians were supposed to sign the agreement in June, but it has yet to happen.

"The problem with Alexei is that he does have a contract in Russia for next year," Howson said. "There are ways to get out of it, but the easiest way would be if there was an agreement signed and they'll give you a window to sign the players that are under contract."

Mikhnov was the Oiler's first pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

He's played his entire career in Russia. Last year the six-foot-five, 228-pound forward scored 14 goals and added eight assists in 40 games with Yaroslavl in the Russian Super League.

"We've been expecting the agreement to come down any day now for the last couple of weeks and it hasn't come down," Howson said. "I don't think that's good news, but we're still waiting.

"We still have other options and avenues to explore with Alexei if it doesn't come down and we'll do that and see if we can get him over here."


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