SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers keep moving forward

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

GRANDE PRAIRIE -- On paper, the Edmonton Oilers have as much talent, potential and depth at forward as any team in the NHL. Translating that to the ice is the trick.

That's a challenge that players like Jarret Stoll, Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff, all coming off career offensive years, relish as they look at the Oilers roster of forwards.

It seems almost a pity there's just one puck.

"We're pretty deep up front," understates Horcoff, who has improved on his points totals in every one of his NHL seasons.

"It's going to make it tough on the young guys coming in, but that's a good problem to have.

"When you have three lines that can score, that's an element that makes it pretty tough on the other team. We found that out against Carolina in the Stanley Cup final."

Hemsky is coming off a career-high 77 points, tops on the team last season. Horcoff was next with 73 and Stoll was third with 68, including 22 goals. Ryan Smyth scored 36 goals and had 66 points. Raffi Torres had 27 goals on a team that boasted five 20-goal men.

While the Oilers lost one of them, 23-goal guy Sergei Samsonov to the Montreal Canadiens, they've added 28-goal man Joffrey Lupul and Petr Sykora, who has scored 20-or-more-goals seven times, to the mix.

"I think it's going to be nice for the coaching staff to look down the bench and see a lot of guys they can throw out in different situations and a lot of guys you can put together," Stoll said.

If Hemsky Stoll and Horcoff don't falter and Fernando Pisani, who had 18 goals during the regular season before leading playoff scorers with 14, and Ethan Moreau, who has scored 20 goals in this league, produce, coach Craig MacTavish will have plenty of options.

It's not a stretch to suggest the Oilers have seven forwards who could score 20-or-more goals - Horcoff, Hemsky, Stoll, Smyth, Sykora, Lupul and Torres.

That would be the most since eight players with the 1991-92 edition of the team hit the 20-goal mark.


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