Stoll of a deal for Oil

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

This is the first skate to drop.

There will be a second skate to drop for Kevin Lowe and the Edmonton Oilers today. It's almost certain that a blockbuster trade yesterday will result in another trade involving Joni Pitkanen to follow quickly.

The trade of Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene to the Los Angeles Kings for Lubomir Visnovsky - instantly making the Slovakian defenceman the highest paid player on the hockey team - definitely registers on the hockey trade Richter scale.

Less than 48 hours before the July 1 free-agent frenzy and the day new owner Daryl Katz officially becomes owner, this deal is a fascinating trade on several fronts including the fact it already sets up Katz for some positive press for his Wednesday press conference.

MAJOR CAP HIT

Visnovsky is a three-time Olympian, prime-of-his-career star status, puck-moving defenceman and power-play specialist who represnts a cap hit of $5.6 million US per season and is signed for another five seasons.

That's $200,000 per season more than Sheldon Souray, last year's biggest name free-agent signing if you don't count the highly controversial deal which brought Dustin Penner here from restricted free-agent status.

This coming season Visnovsky will make $7 million and Souray 6.25 million.

Both Visnovsky and Souray are power-play specialists who would potentially be teamed together through to 2012.

Visnovsky, who lists his childhood idol as ex-Oiler great Paul Coffey, one year ago signed a deal that took him through 2013.

The trade to bring Visnovsky here almost necessitates punting Pitkanen who becomes a restricted free agent tomorrow.

With 19 players signed the Oilers cap payroll now sits at $49,337,553 - leaving them with a cap space of $8,362,444. Pitkanen is believed to be asking for $5 million and would leave the Oilers with very little room to maneuvre.

The big negative of the deal is that the Oilers, who already lacked team toughness, loses more with a hard-nosed defenceman like Greene and a player who is willing to go into the corners like Stoll.

Coming off a sub-par season, statistically, Visnovsky dropped 17 points from the 58-point season he had in 2006-07. His biggest year was 2005-06 when he recorded 17 goals and 50 assists for 67 points to lead the Kings in scoring and win club MVP honors and be the only defenceman in the league to lead a team in scoring. In the three year span he went from 67 to 58 to 41 points.

Visnovsky is coming off leading Slovakia in scoring at the 2008 IIHF World Championship with nine points and a plus-five rating in five games.

He played his first Olympics in 1998 before he was drafted and then 2002 and 2006 in which he's had five points in nine games.

He was a member of the Slovakian team which won the World Hockey Championship in 2002.

In 499 career NHL games he has scored 70 goals and 209 assists for 279 points. However, in 12 post season games, he has but one assist. But Los Angeles, who drafted him 118th overall in the fourth round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, hasn't played a playoff game since his second season in the spring of 2002.

Two years ago Stoll looked like he was going to be a star only to suffer a concussion from which he's never completely recovered.

He made $2.2 million last year and is scheduled to be a restricted free agent next year.

Green, 24, missed 34 games after suffering a fractured left fibula and ligament damage in his left ankle in a game against Detroit Oct. 30. He's making $1.15 million with one year remaining on the contract before becoming a RFA .

Stoll for the past two years has been dating Rod Stewart's former wife Rachel Hunter, a model who resides in Los Angeles and can currently be seen on the show Celebrity Circus.

If Stoll returns to become the player the Oilers thought he would become before he suffered the concussion and if Greene continues to improve, there's an upside to this deal for Los Angeles.

"It's never easy to give up a player of Lubo's calibre but for the direction of this franchice, this exchange allows us to add two players who fit the long term vision of this team," said Kings president and GM Dean Lombardi.

'CLASS ACT'

"We appreciate Lubo's service and outstanding play these last seven years in L.A. ... He was not only a great player for us but a class act."

Oilers GM Kevin Lowe, in a statement on the Oilers website, said, "Although it is tough to see good players and good people move on, we feel we've made a step towards improving our overall offence. Lubomir is a world-class defencemen who has been one of the premier offensive defencemen over the past five years."

But for today, this trade is a talker and looks like a winner for Kevin Lowe, depending on what happens next.

Now we sit and wait to see what happens at the drop of the other skate.


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