SUN Hockey Pool

Lupul lights lamp

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

GRANDE PRAIRIE -- Joffrey Lupul didn't do much in his first training camp scrimmage with the Edmonton Oilers yesterday - except bury the only decent scoring chance he had in the back of the net.

The 22-year-old from Fort Saskatchewan has a knack for that. Lupul did it 28 times during the regular season and nine more times in playoffs for the Anaheim Ducks in 2005-06.

That's what the Oilers, who plucked him from the Ducks in the trade that sent unhappy Chris Pronger to Anaheim, are expecting from the player they got for one of the top three defencemen in the league.

Pressure? Not really.

"He's obviously a great player," Lupul said of Pronger. "He's the type of guy you can't replace because he plays a ton of minutes and is one of the top guys in the league.

"But I also know what I can do. I can come here and help this team offensively.

"I can score a lot of goals and be a guy who can keep improving for a long time, whereas Chris is kind of at his peak. I can bring a lot of energy and some offence to the team."

Lupul, who played right wing on a line with Jarret Stoll and Ethan Moreau yesterday, scored the only goal for Team Red in a 2-1 loss to Team Blue to open camp.

"My legs felt good. My hands and timing weren't even close to what they will be," admitted Lupul.

"That's why it's training camp, right?

"I felt good. It'll take a little while with the timing and getting used to the guys."

The former Medicine Hat Tiger wasn't dancing with the puck like he often does, but the shot he zipped by Jussi Markkanen had "goal-scorer" written all over it.

"Lupul had one chance and he put it in the back of the net," coach Craig MacTavish said.

"I wish he had more, but I'm glad he put that one in. We've talked about first-shot scorers and he got the one opportunity and, boom, it's in the back of the net."

As for the pressure of expectations that'll come with being the player obtained for Pronger, MacTavish isn't reading too much into that.

"He's got a lot of room for growth," MacTavish said. "He scored 28 goals last year. He's 22 years old, so he's going to continue to develop. He's going to be able to deal with that stuff.

"With scorers like that, the pressure and the expectation is always there."

Lupul insists he isn't sweating the spotlight.

"I can't worry what Chris is doing in Anaheim or what Chris did here last year," Lupul said. "For me, it's not about Chris at all. It's about what I can do, about me improving as a player and taking my game to the next level. I believe if I do that, I'll be a player who is pretty valuable, too."

Pronger? Get over it, says MacT

Chris who?

While Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish and GM Kevin Lowe once again entertained questions about the loss of Pronger the message was clear: Get over it.

"It's important that we all move on. I have completely," said MacTavish, who has some big minutes to fill on the back end with Pronger taking his act to Disneyland.

"We do from year to year.

"From a coach's perspective, you deal with what you have. If you don't have it, you forget about it. We're going to have to find a way to replace what he did for our hockey team."

Lowe, who got Lupul and defence prospect Ladislav Smid from the Ducks in exchange for Pronger, is likewise looking ahead instead of back.

"I think we've been down the Chris Pronger path a number of times," Lowe said. "He was heckuva hockey player. He is a heckuva hockey player. We'll have to fill the holes on the back end.

"We've got a different-looking team, no question. We're going to ask a lot of our forwards. I think they can do the job.

"We've got a lot of defencemen vying for positions. We'll have a strong defence.''


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