Lowe has 'no animosity' towards Pronger

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

There was no gnashing of teeth or smashing of TV screens when Kevin Lowe watched former Oiler Chris Pronger hoist the Stanley Cup Wednesday night.

Lowe is famous for his fiery temper, but a year after the stunning turn of events that ended Pronger's stay in Edmonton four years sooner than expected, collapsing the Oilers like a house of cards in the process, their GM isn't at all bitter.

"Not really, I'm not as upset with Chris Pronger as I know our fans are," said Lowe, who, nevertheless, can't help but wonder what might have been if Pronger had stayed.

"There certainly is a part of me that still wonders why anybody, if the hockey's right and the team's right, that you'd have to make a decision like he did. I'm sure I'll be wondering forever, but people are different and I guess you have to respect that.

"But no animosity towards him winning. I was really excited to see a guy like Brad May win, and the Niedermayers, they're great guys. It was a good story. They were a heck of a team."

With a dozen Oilers prospects in town for development camp, Lowe decided to invite them over to his place to watch the clinching game.

"It's a good moment for them to watch that. I showed them my six Cups on the shelf and said that's what it's all about boys.Hopefully someday you can get that opportunity."

EXPECT SOME ACTIVITY

The Oilers have plenty of high end re-stocking to do this summer, and they hope to get a big chunk of it done in advance of the July 1 free agent frenzy.

"We'd like to try and get some stuff done before and during the draft to take some pressure off of July 1 a little bit," said Lowe, who's hoping to land at least one big fish by the end of the month.

"Would we as an organization make a bold move to bring in a player or two that are very high quality? Absolutely, because we've set ourselves up for that. We have a strong sense of the guys we want to keep on our roster and the guys who might eventually be expendable."

Can he pull off another earth-shattering deal like the one that brought Pronger and Mike Peca here?

"I'm not predicting that, that was quite a splash," said Lowe. "I don't know if we're guaranteeing any press conferences of that magnitude this summer. But we want to get this team back to a team that's expected to make the playoffs and we think we can do that."

If he can't swing a decent deal or two at the draft, Lowe says they'll be content to use all three first round picks.

"We're not going to throw the picks away. If it's going to be harder to keep your players and harder to recruit unrestricted free agents, we have to be careful of what we do with our picks, and really value them. It's unlikely any of them will step in and play next year, but they'll be close. The sixth pick could be ready really soon. We haven't had that luxury in a long time."

OLD FACE WANTS BACK IN

Former Oilers defenceman Dick Tarnstrom is ready to come back to the NHL after a year in Europe and has expressed interest in coming back to Edmonton.

"He's ready to come back and we've had some positive discussions with him,"said Lowe.

"He finished on a strong note with us. we'd like to get that deal done."

Petr Sykora, an unrestricted free agent July 1, is still on Edmonton's radar. The Oilers will likely see how they fare with their UFA wish list in the first week of July before turning their attention to him.

As for Edmonton's restricted free agents, like Raffi Torres, they'll have to wait, too, to see how much is left in the budget after Edmonton fills some of those high end roster spots.

DRAFT PICKS LET GO

The Oilers will let five of their former draft picks re-enter the draft this year rather than sign them. Dragan Umicevic (184th in 2003), Frederik Pettersson (127th overall in 2005), Josef Harabal (248th in 2003), Kalle Olsson (147th in 2003) and Lukas Zib (57th in 1995) are Oilers property no more.


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