Oilers shopping Stoll around

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Jarret Stoll is starting to feel like an old Ford Taurus on the back of a used car lot - like the salesman can't get rid of him fast enough.

With a fleet of shiny new models arriving in Edmonton last season, Stoll, who hasn't been up to speed since spending 31 games in the shop two years ago, has become expendable in many eyes, including those, it would seem, of the very general manager he's currently negotiating a contract with.

It's never a relaxing view from the auction block.

"It would be nice to know for sure, one way or another, what's going to happen," said the 26-year-old centre, who made it through the draft without being dealt but knows there's still a long way to go between now and when the Oilers open camp in September.

"You hope a team wants you. If it's Edmonton, that's great, that's what I want. But if it's not, then you move on.

"I don't know what's going to happen and that's kind of the thing that, if anything, bothers me. Not knowing. It can be a little nerve-racking.

"But I'm trying to go about my summer like I normally do, getting ready for the season."

It's a little humbling for a competitive athlete to know that the same fans who loved him two seasons ago can't think of enough ways to ship him out of town today, to learn that Kevin Lowe, who once listed him among his untouchable assets, is shopping him to almost every tire kicker in the league.

"It's part of the game," said Stoll, who's in California where his girlfriend, actress Rachel Hunter, is competing on the reality show Celebrity Circus. "In a perfect world, not having your name come up all the time would be the way to go, but you just take it for what it's worth."

Stoll, despite the Hollywood ties, still likes Edmonton - it's close to his Saskatchewan roots - and still wants to see the Oilers' rebuilding effort to its fruition.

Unfortunately, an important step in that effort might involve shipping Stoll somewhere else, and not knowing where that somewhere is can be somewhat unnerving.

"There's still lots of summer left and lots of decisions to be made," he said, adding he's well aware that Lowe not only wants to add a high-end talent, but needs to clear up a few dressing room stalls as well. "That's the hard part for the organization, that there's so many guys and so many guys who can play well. That's the decision they have to make. You just wait for the call, whether it's your team or the agent and go from there. Hopefully something happens. Hopefully it's good (and he stays). We'll just wait and see and go from there."

Stoll also knows he's on the backburner in contract negotiations with Edmonton, well aware that he has virtually no leverage in the discussions, coming off the bad year and all. Just another element in a pride-denting summer.

"As for negotiations and talks, there hasn't been much going on," he said. "They took care of some guys they had to take care of early on and now they're trying to figure out what they want for the team, whether I'm in the picture or not. We'll hope, wait and see."

The ironic part in all this is that the one thing working in Stoll's favour if he wants to stay in Edmonton is that he played so poorly in Edmonton last year. The Oilers aren't going to get much for him now, with his value near its lowest, but there is a chance he could snap out of the tentative style that got him into this fix and rediscover the form that made him such a key ingredient two years ago. If that happens, Jarret Stoll (2007-08) for Jarret Stoll (2005-06) could turn out to be the best trade they make all summer.

"That's my mindset, that's what I'm focusing on and working towards right now, preparing to have a great season," said Stoll, who's grown a little tired of hearing he's washed up at 26.

"People can always say what they want and think what they want. That's life, that's the world. I know how I think and how I prepare and how I think I can play. And it's definitely different than last year."


Photos