SUN Hockey Pool

Petr ready to wing it

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

In today's NHL, versatility is the key.

At least, such is the case with the Edmonton Oilers newest acquisition, Petr Sykora.

The 29-year-old winger from Plzen, Czech Republic, is the latest addition to the Oiler forward ranks.

The former New Jersey Devil, Anaheim Mighty Duck and New York Ranger can play either wing and is potent on the power play.

"At this level, any player can play anywhere," Sykora said. "I don't think it matters if the coach plays you on the right side or the left side - you just have to go out there and do your job and try to do it well. I think all the players on this team are so skilled and so good that they can play anywhere."

Traditionally Sykora is a right-winger - it's where he prefers to play. But he's willing to play wherever the Oilers see fit next season.

In 682 NHL games, the Devils' first draft choice (18th overall) in 1995, has 225 goals and 287 assists for 512 points.

Last year he split his time with the Ducks and the Rangers, scoring 23 goals and adding 28 assists in 74 games between the two teams.

"The fact that he can play everywhere is going to be a big asset to us," said Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson. "It's gives us lots of options in terms of mix and matching our top seven or eight forwards.

"His versatility will be a huge factor for us."

Sykora joins a forward unit which includes a 36-goal scorer last season in Ryan Smyth, Joffrey Lupul (28 goals), Raffi Torres (27 goals), Jarret Stoll (22 goals), Shawn Horcoff (22 goals), Ales Hemsky (19 goals) and Fernando Pisani (18 goals).

"I don't think we're going to have problems scoring goals," said Sykora. "We just have to make sure all of us come back and help out defensively. It's not all about scoring goals. You have to play the systems and come back and help the defencemen."

Getting an opportunity to play with such a talented offensive group was one of the attractions to Edmonton for Sykora.

He also had fond memories of the city, having spent time here as a teenager.

"I know (former Oiler) Petr Nedved pretty well - we're from the same town, and Ales I know from the world championships in Vienna when we won the worlds," Sykora said. "I talked to them about the team and they said hockey-wise it's unbelievable.

"The ice is great and the whole city is behind you. For me it's going to be a new experience. All the guys I've asked about the style of play here and Edmonton and the city is always positive, so I'm very excited."


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