SUN Hockey Pool

It's Petr power!

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Craig MacTavish isn't saying what linemates Petr Nedved will play with in his return to the Edmonton Oilers tonight when the Dallas Stars come calling, but it doesn't take a vast intellect to figure out fans will see No. 93 on the power play.

With a power play that's ranked 26th in the NHL, the most obvious place for Nedved until his linemates are sorted out - Petr Sykora and Fernando Pisani seem likely possibilities - is working the half-boards when the Oilers are on a man advantage.

'HE'S A FIT HERE'

That much MacT is giving up.

"I've got an idea where we're going to put him," said MacTavish, asked who Nedved will play with. "He will definitely be in the lineup.

"There's a number of spots. Obviously, before we pick up a player, there's always an analysis that takes place about where he's going to fit in. We feel strongly he's a fit here."

Nedved, 35, arrived for his second stint with the Oilers on a flight yesterday afternoon after scoring a modest 1-6-7 with a minus-20 rating in 21 games with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Suffice to say, Nedved was not overwhelming 5-on-5 in the City of Brotherly Love while bouncing in and out of the Flyers' lineup and down to the minors with the Phantoms of the AHL, but the skill-set he brings to the power play is unquestionable.

"He's going to be a complement to those offensive players we already have," said MacTavish. "I like the looks of a lot of the options we have on the power play and second-unit power play.

"The question we have about him right now is his effectiveness 5-on-5. The minus is certainly an issue and a concern that he's going to have to work hard defensively to eliminate. He was a minus player with Philadelphia and a minus player with the Phantoms."

The Oilers power play was languishing when Nedved arrived from the New York Rangers at the 2004 trading deadline with Jussi Markkanen, and he provided an immediate spark in the stretch.

"Given the chance, he's going to put it in the back of the net," MacTavish said. "We're hopeful he's at the same level.

"In talking to Kevin (Lowe), who was in contact with some people in the Flyers organization, he's played reasonably well and we feel like we can get him back playing at the level he was at. That's certainly our hope."

With 712 points in 963 career games despite a couple of wasted seasons since he spurned the Oilers and signed with Phoenix in the summer of 2004, Nedved has shown offensive skills worth the $600,000 in salary the Oilers will have to pick up for the remainder of the season.

The questions, though, are many. How much does Nedved have left? Where does he fit with the power play personnel now? Can and will he complement Ales Hemsky, another half-board threat, on the right side?

"He's a great skater and he's got an awesome wrist shot," Sykora said. "You know, he's proved himself as a scorer over the years every single year.

"I think he's still a great player. I don't know why it didn't work out in Philly. Sometimes you go to a team where it just isn't a good fit for you. I guess that's what happened."

MacTavish says he'll resist the urge - for one shift at least - to start Nedved on an all-Czech line with Sykora and Hemsky against the Stars tonight until he gets a feel for where his game is.

NEED SOME BALANCE

"I don't think we'll see it immediately," MacTavish said.

"It's something we'll work out. Hemsky and Sykora, you would think, would be good fits, but I always like to have a player who is a bit more defensive-oriented on every line. A capable defensive player.

"Not that Petr's not capable of that or Ales, but they're all thinking offence and I'd like to have somebody who, at least in the back of their head, has an eye on the other end of the ice."


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