SUN Hockey Pool

Big skates to fill

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

The jersey fit well.

The number was familiar, considering it's Chris Pronger's old No. 44.

But whether or not Sheldon Souray is able to fill the void on the Edmonton Oilers blueline remains to be seen.

"Those are big shoes to fill," Souray said after the Oilers introduced him to the media yesterday at a morning press conference. "I'm not looking to come in here and definitely be compared to a guy like (Chris) Pronger, he's one of the best.

"I'm looking to do what I can do, come here and complement the guys and not do anything more than that."

Souray, 31, signed a five-year, $27-million deal with the Oilers on July 12.

The native of Elk Point, Alberta, had spent the previous six seasons with the Montreal Canadiens prior to signing with Edmonton as an unrestricted free agent.

Last year Souray had a career-high 26 goals and 38 assists in 81 games with the Canadiens. He also led the team with 19 power-play goals.

"When we had our meetings at the end of the year, Sheldon was one of those guys that we targeted as being a high-end priority because we didn't have that in our hockey club and our power-play struggled last year," said Oilers vp of hockey operations Kevin Pendergast. "I think having a player like Sheldon who can move the puck as well as he does plugs a big hole for us."

Souray joins fellow puck-moving defenceman Joni Pitkanen on the Oilers blue-line this season.

Pitkanen was acquired along with winger Geoff Sanderson and a third-round draft pick in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers for Jason Smith and Joffrey Lupul last month.

"I think we're way ahead of where we were last year defensively," Pendergast said. "Guys that can go and get the puck and move it in this game are huge, and now we got two guys and with the defencemen we have already, I think we're very strong back there."

Having played in Montreal for so long, Souray is no stranger to the expectations associated with playing Canada. He's looking forward to the challenge.

Expectations will be high for the Oilers most expensive free agent acquisition.

"The contract is way more than I thought I would ever make as a kid," Souray said. "But I don't put any extra pressure on myself because of that. For me it's an honour to come here and be a part of this organization.

"I don't look at myself as being the saviour, being the guy to shoulder the load. It's going to take all the guys. I just want to complement them and I'm proud to come here. It's going to be a real honour to put on the jersey."


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