SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers have five possibilities

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Between now and the time GM Kevin Lowe walks to the podium tomorrow to make Edmonton's first pick at the NHL entry draft, there will be two dozen rumours, 10 dozen speculations and about 100 dozen proposals scribbled on that great big bathroom stall known as the blogosphere.

Lowe has a myriad of options between now and Saturday afternoon's final pick, and he's bunkered in his hotel room, a phone in each ear, pondering all of them.

Here are a few of the avenues he can pull into:

STAND PAT

This is the one nobody wants to hear, but it's what Lowe did last year when no one on Earth thought he'd keep all three of his first round picks. But, fact is, he's under no real pressure to get something done right now.

Time and assets are on his side.

If nothing strikes his fancy here, he can wait and see what happens on July 1, or wait and see where his team is in October - find out how many of those high flying kids are for real, what the team can realistically expect to accomplish this year, and make a more informed decision then.

"There might not be a fit till later on in the summer," said vice president of hockey operations Kevin Prendergast. "We have cards that we can sit on and hold, or move if we want to. We have a bunch of options that we didn't have last year."

MOVE UP IN THE DRAFT

By all accounts, there's not a lot to be gained by this unless Edmonton can move into the top six, which is unlikely because teams would be stupid to trade one of the potential franchise players available in those spots. And the scouts say moving up a few spots isn't worth it since the difference between 22 and 16 or 17 is marginal.

"I don't think (22nd overall) is going to change much," said head scout Stu MacGregor. "I would suspect we're going to be picking at 22."

TRADE FOR A 2ND ROUNDER

This one seems probable. Edmonton, without a second or third round pick this year, needs to stock the shelves now that most of their kids are playing up here.

"We need to replenish a little bit because we're going to be thin after this year," said Prendergast. "It would certainly help if we had an extra second or third rounder. It's a deep draft, so we know that even in the second round we'd be getting a good player.

"Teams that have a lot of picks might be thinking they could move a couple of them, and we have the bodies."

Phoenix has four picks in the second round, Washington has three, Columbus has two in the first round and can afford to part with a second rounder and the L.A. Kings have two in the first round (2 and 19) and two in the second.

MID-LEVEL TRADE

It isn't smart to trade a player while his value is lowest, like in the cases of Jarret Stoll, Raffi Torres, and Rob Schremp (the names being bandied about most). There's a good chance they could all rebound, so a lateral move could make Lowe (and Craig MacTavish, for that matter) look pretty bad if they wound up flourishing somewhere else.

Besides, the Oilers don't have a lot of mid-level needs right now, other than functional muscle (the kind of player Chris Neil was two years ago). They've got all the 12-goal scorers and third line checkers they need.

MAJOR TRADE

This is the one that's fuelling all the speculation, especially after Lowe and MacTavish said they're very interested in a three-for-one deal, with the star coming to Edmonton for a change.

They have a good bargaining chip in Pitkanen, and plenty of other expendable bodies to sweeten the deal, but multi-player trades are tough in the salary cap age.

If you had Jason Spezza, a guy who finished eighth in league scoring last year, would you trade him for Pitkanen, Torres, Schremp and Dwayne Roloson - four question marks totalling about $10 million in salary?

Edmonton is in a position to do something substantial, but it might take more than Pitkanen and a couple guys coming off bad seasons to get it done. Lowe would have to think long and hard before tinkering with his core of kids.

And if Sheldon Souray gets hurt again, where does that leave Edmonton's defence?

Plenty to think about before pulling the trigger.

"We have a lot to play with," said Prendergast. "We're in a selling mode, we have players we can sell to make our team better, but we're not giving them away. Kevin will listen to anything, but we're in no hurry."


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