SUN Hockey Pool

Stoll for Lombardi? Not on your life!

JOHN SHORT -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:56 PM ET

Ask the Oilers' brass about Matthew Lombardi and they're sure to tell you he'd be a good fit here. He's a great skater, a tough competitor and solid enough defensively that his plus-minus is better than most NHL forwards.

Edmonton drafted Lombardi a couple of years ago, but he turned down their qualifying offer and wound up a Calgary Flame a short while later. But, Flames brainiacs didn't gain much - if anything. A virtual mirror image of the situation developed for them when Jarret Stoll turned down a Calgary deal, went back into the draft, and became an Oiler.

Although Stoll's skating shows remarkable improvement, he isn't as quick as Lombardi, but he has assets - intelligent positional play and a big shot - that make up the difference. An additional bonus is Stoll's talent in the faceoff circle.

Obviously, the Flames should have done more to sign Stoll, and the Oilers should have done more to get Lombardi's signature. How much better would either team be with both of the young stars?

The good news: the Oilers wouldn't make a one-for-one swap right now. It's safe to bet the Flames wouldn't, either.

REMEMBERING MAC DANYLUK

That unpleasant AJHL situation in Fort Saskatchewan was predicted a few seasons ago. After spending sweat, toil, tears and some of his own money for many years with the Traders, the late Mac Danyluk lost a political struggle, and wound up without any connection to the organization he loved.

Before Mac passed away, he invested similar levels of energy into the Fort Chiefs, who have are contenders for the 2007 Allan Cup title. "I don't wish the Traders any bad luck," Danyluk told me, "but we've got a lot of good senior players around here. We'll have a solid team in a year or so and it will hurt the juniors at the gate."

He was right, but new management stepped in with a rebuilding plan that seemed likely to make the Traders viable again. Now, unfortunately, it seems the new guys planned from Day One to shift to larger St. Albert as soon as they could - and why not, with the Saints gone to Spruce Grove and a new building in place?

RANEK VS. DAVIS ... RANEK

To me, Eskimos got a lot less attention than they deserved for signing running back Josh Ranek.

Often described as "fierce" and "a little ball of hate," he was terrific for several seasons in the Eastern Conference. I think Edmonton was lucky to get him. So does John Belmont.

The former Edmonton Huskies offensive coordinator, who stepped down recently and was replaced by Sean Zaychkowski, predicts Ranek will win the starting job at halfback this season. This is not a knock at Troy Davis. Some bright football guys believe he was troubled more by inexperience on the offensive line and head coach Danny Maciocia's refusal to commit to a running game than by any of his own failings. It's hard to believe how close training camp is. Should be interesting to see players - not media types or Internet bloggers - settling these issues.


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