SUN Hockey Pool

Extra bodies won't be around much longer

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

With 28 players in camp and two games left in the pre-season schedule, the picture is getting a little clearer for head coach Craig MacTavish.

It has to. Time is running out.

"They're all difficult (decisions),"he said. "But the back end is sorting itself out, the forwards are sorting themselves out a bit. And goaltending, it'll be difficult not to start with three."

Starting with three keepers leaves Edmonton with 20 more roster spots, seven of which will go to defencemen: Sheldon Souray, Lubomir Visnovsky, Ladislav Smid, Steve Staios, Denis Grebeshkov, Tom Gilbert and Jason Strudwick.

Mathieu Roy, who's on a one-way contract, would have to clear waivers if he's sent down with Theo Peckham and Taylor Chorney.

That leaves only 13 forwards, and if 12 of them are Erik Cole, Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky, Robert Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Ethan Moreau, Fernando Pisani, Dustin Penner, Kyle Brodziak, Zack Stortini and Marc Pouliot, there's not much room left for Steve MacIntyre, Gilbert Brule and Rob Schremp.

"It's pretty obvious that our top two lines are set, and the third line players (Moreau, Pisani and Penner) will play somewhere," said MacTavish.

"And I like Pouliot, Brodziak and Stortini. So you're looking at your 13th and 14th forward and your seventh defencemen."

Only the 14th forward spot goes to a goalie, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who has to clear waivers if he gets sent down.

"It's a pain in the ass, but it's what you deal with," MacTavish said of the lost roster spot.

"Did we want three goalies? No. But can we do anything about it at this point? Probably not. We'd like to have the spot right now but you deal with the circumstances that you have. We're not prepared to give up one of our goalies right now."

THIRD TIME'S A CHARM

MacTavish desperately wants the Moreau-Pisani-Penner trio to work, and on paper it looks like they should, but so far it's been rather lukewarm. He'll give them another look, likely in Calgary tonight.

"We'll try it again," said MacTavish. "We have to see a line that's going to work well together, otherwise we're going to have to make some changes. It's that simple.

"Would I like it to work? Yeah. Potentially it could be a line that's difficult to play against. You can match that line up with anybody and you have a physical line that can play good defence, that's going to win the majority of their matchups.

"That's the potential of that line, but we have to see the potential realized, otherwise we're going to have to make changes."

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