Oil ready to do battle

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

If they've spent their last nickel on acquiring new talent, the Edmonton Oilers are prepared to go to war with the soldiers they have.

By snatching up Chris Pronger and Mike Peca in big-name trades last week, the Oilers have obviously increased their chances of becoming a factor in what will be a freewheeling Western Conference.

They opted not to get into a bidding war for Paul Kariya and didn't view Ray Whitney as a top-line centre. Eric Lindros seems destined for Toronto and Mark Messier is a question mark.

But as far as adding more faces to the picture, that appears to be less of a concern.

"We'll look at everybody who's left, but I think we feel we can win with what's here," said Kevin Prendergast, the Oil's vice-president of hockey operations. "If we get to training camp and that changes then we'll have to take a look at bringing someone in.

"I think we'll probably sit down and look at things over the next couple of weeks. I don't think there's anyone out there who would amount to being a No. 1 centre. There's still a sentimental factor in bringing Mark in. He's still working out and he's not constructed like a 44-year-old would normally be, but he's not a No. 1."

One thing Prendergast issure the Oilers don't desperately need is a big banger up-front. "With the amount of four-on-four and four-on-three hockey that we expect to be playing and with the new rules, we are not lacking any size or toughness," he said.

The most pressing issue for the Oilers now becomes taking a run at getting their long list of restricted free agents -- a group that includes Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff -- signed to new deals.

"I think some of them we'd like to get locked up long-term," said Prendergast.

"It just depends what kind of attitude they bring to the table.

"Some of them might want to wait and have a good year and then go for the big ticket next year or some might be more interested in taking the safe bet and getting something done long-term."


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