Lowe needs to show patience

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

Kevin Lowe's game plan for attacking the NHL unrestricted free-agent market is an interesting combination of styles.

He'll hunker down with the rest of the Edmonton Oilers' front-office staff somewhere today and start farming out some offers to the big-ticket players who are up for grabs.

But while he expects to make at least a handful of inquiries when the market opens at 10 this morning, Lowe is also taking a reserved approach.

"We're not going to sit around and wait. We'll make our calls and notify some people of our interest," said Lowe.

THERE'S NO RUSH

But the Oiler GM won't go rushing into anything - and is hoping his counterparts show a little patience as well.

"If things go too quickly that's not good," said Lowe.

"The guys who get signed right away, (the GMs) probably didn't do any research on the market and might give them an offer that's not good for the league.

"From a player's perspective, it's unlikely they'll jump at the first offer.

''But there might be some guys who don't want to get caught when the music stops without a place to sit, and they might take the first offer.

''We have our strategy on how we're going to do things and some teams might have a different strategy."

Los Angeles centre Jason Allison is sure to be at the top of Lowe's call sheet today, along with St. Louis's Pavol Demitra and at least a courtesy inquiry to get a gauge on any interest Mark Messier might have on coming home.

New Jersey's Brian Rafalski and Sergei Zubov are the leading candidates for filling the Oilers' need for a puck-moving defenceman with a touch on the power play.

While a few teams will decide to throw all their available loot under the salary cap at one big name, it's more likely the Oilers will try to spread their wealth out to garner two or three catches. Still, if there's any chance Peter Forsberg comes along and is open to heading north ....

PREVIOUS YEARS

"We have a lot better chance of landing a player like that than we would have in previous years, but we have no idea what the market is going to be like," said Lowe.

"Look at Sandis Ozolinsh's new deal. He signed for about half of what he made last year ($5.5 million US).

"My hope is that players will look at the quality of life here and the opportunities with this team and make the decision that money isn't the most important thing."

OIL SPILLS: The Oilers did send out qualifying offers to all of their restricted free agents - Eric Brewer, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Jussi Markkanen, Marty Reasoner, Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll, Raffi Torres and Mike York.


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