SUN Hockey Pool

Lowe brings Nedved back

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

It's damn sure not a blockbuster.

But is it a slump-buster?

Petr Nedved is an Edmonton Oiler again.

The question is 'Why?'

The 35-year-old legendary disappearing act was working on the NHL record for most times on the waiver wire in a single season.

But this time there were bites. And Oilers' GM Kevin Lowe took advantage of Edmonton having fewer points than only seven other teams going into action last night to bump an Ottawa claim and make Nedved an Oiler again.

Unless Lowe has decided to be the Nutty Professor and create an 'Arctic Circle Line' by putting Nedved, Joffrey Lupul and Shawn Horcoff together (a combined minus 48), you have to figure it was a move made to create a shake-up and likely to telegraph a major move to come barring a total turnaround.

"If we were a few wins better we wouldn't have done it," said Lowe.

If it busts a slump, if Nedved can get something done short term while he's here, maybe it's worth it.

MAKING CHANGES?

"Clearly, if things don't improve, we're going to make changes," said Lowe of any message it might have delivered.

He's halfway through a season and knows what he has and what he doesn't have.

I don't know that you can count the Oilers' impressive 4-1 win over a Florida Panthers team which has only won five games on the road this year, as a shake to awaken the team from their Christmas trip from first-to-worst in the Northwest Division.

But they had a lot more life last night as they finally recorded the team's 1,000th regular-season win after four failed attempts. So maybe it did something.

HAD CHANCES

The thing here is that Lowe had opportunities to claim Nedved off waivers on other occasions this season as he went up and down from the minors, ending up a league second-worst minus 20 with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Why now?

"We were obviously intrigued before," said Lowe. "But our team was playing well at the time."

Not this time.

Lowe obviously thought it was time to do something. Smart hockey GMs will generally make a minor move before making a big one.

Nedved is a low stakes gamble. He'll cost the Oilers $600,000 US for the rest of the season. But Lowe says with Patrick Thoresen and his salary going off the books with his demotion to the minors, and with a nip here and a tuck there, it'll only end up adding about $200,000 to the salary cap.

The Oilers had about $1 million of budget room and if this move cost Lowe a $4 million player ($1 million for the last 20 games), it would be an awful move.

But Lowe swears it won't put any handcuffs on him to make the blockbuster deal near the trade deadline for a top defenceman.

The gamble is that Nedved can return here and return to the form he last had when he was here for the final 16 games of the season three years ago when he was only 32.

A GOOD FIT

"He was a good fit the last time and we think he can help us out again. The first time Petr was on waivers the Flyers gave his agent permission to talk with teams and he told people Petr felt he made a mistake by leaving here," he said of his deciding to become a Phoenix Coyote as a free agent.

He said he felt Craig MacTavish was running out of moves he could make.

"It gave us a chance to change the internal roster," he said.

"Our vision of the season featured a lot of production from our forwards. We felt that would help keep pressure off the back end.

It hasn't worked out that way.

This move adds some more offence and hopefully will take a little pressure off the back end.

"He's a good shooter with good speed. He loves this ice. And it gives MacT a few more options."

Call it a slump-buster. Blockbuster to come.


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