SUN Hockey Pool

Will he or won't he show?

Joffrey Lupul takes part in a conditioning camp at Clare Drake arena at the University of Alberta...

Joffrey Lupul takes part in a conditioning camp at Clare Drake arena at the University of Alberta Wednesday morning. (Edmonton Sun/David Bloom)

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

He would have preferred to arrive in town with a contract in hand.

Instead Joffrey Lupul is still waiting for his agent Peter Semonick and the Oilers to hammer out a deal.

Yesterday, Lupul hit the ice for the first time with some of his Oiler teammates in an informal workout at the University of Alberta. He arrived in town Tuesday after spending most of the summer in California.

"It's exciting to be here," Lupul said. "I would have liked to have had a contract by now, but it's exciting to be in a new place with a lot of familiar faces and get a chance to play with a lot of old buddies."

EXPECTATIONS ARE HIGH

Having been acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in the Chris Pronger trade, expectations are high for the local product.

Last season Lupul, 22, scored 28 goals and added 25 assists in 81 games for the Ducks. He also scored nine goals in the playoffs - four of which came in a record-setting game against the Colorado Avalanche.

"It's an easier move for me because I know a lot of the guys and I have my friends and family here," Lupul said. "It's not as dramatic as it is for other guys going to places they don't know.

"I'm looking forward to it, I can't wait for camp to start."

Lupul was the Ducks first pick - seventh overall - in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He spent two seasons with the Ducks and the lockout year in Cincinnati before becoming the key acquisition in the Pronger trade.

As a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, Lupul has been waiting all summer for a new contract.

"I think it's just a matter of time for sure," he said.

"It's getting a little close. It's something that we're definitely going to work on in the next seven or eight days."

With training camp just a week away, Lupul has not yet decided whether he'll report without a contract.

He hopes it doesn't come to that.

"It's not something I've thought about," he said. "Hopefully it's not something I'm going to have to think about. I haven't spoken about that with my agent. We're pretty positive we can get it done and I think the Oilers are as well."

IN A FISHBOWL

Unlike in Anaheim, Lupul knows he'll be playing in a fishbowl here in Edmonton and is looking forward to the challenge.

"I grew up here, I know how much pressure there is on players, especially offensive guys and hometown guys," he said.

"We've seen it before with a couple of guys.

"But I'm not worried about the pressure, I know what I can do. I put as much pressure on myself as anyone does.

"If I'm not playing well I know what needs to be done."

As a natural goal scorer, Lupul will be expected to put up similar numbers in Edmonton to those he tallied in Anaheim.

The Oilers haven't had a pure goal scorer since perhaps the days assistant coach Craig Simpson was parking himself in front of the net.

"That's what I'd like to be," Lupul said. "I know I can score if I get the puck in a good spot. But there are also other things that I have to do more consistently to allow myself to get into those positions."

With the talent the Oilers have up front this year, the entire onus won't be on Lupul to provide offence.

However, he could be a key in keeping the Oilers from struggling following an improbable playoff run as has been the case with Stanley Cup finalists of the past.

DUCKS SWOONED

Lupul was a member of the Ducks team that failed to make the playoffs following their trip to the final the previous season.

"The start will be key for us," he said. "We're a team that everyone will be gunning for. They knocked off some pretty good teams in the playoffs and we'll definitely have to be prepared at the start of the season. You definitely don't want to get into that lull like we did in Anaheim two years ago."


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