One for 11.
Or, rather, one for three
The Edmonton Oilers have 11 players eligible for unrestricted free agency at 10 a.m. today, but were only negotiating with the high-priority trio of netminder Dwayne Roloson, winger Fernando Pisani and defenceman Jaroslav Spacek.
It looked like they wouldn't land any of them before they filed for unrestricted free agency, but GM Kevin Lowe snuck one in at the wire, agreeing to terms on a four-year deal with their playoff hero - Pisani
Terms of the deal weren't announced.
The belief among Oilers fans was that Pisani, because he was born and raised in Edmonton, wouldn't play anywhere else for any amount of money, but GM Kevin Lowe said that definitely wasn't the negotiating tact they took with the 29-year-old.
"You can't take for granted that he's going to accept whatever we offer because he's an Edmonton boy,'' said Lowe. "That's unrealistic and unfair to him. If anybody deserves a significant bump in pay it's him. He's become a pretty good player.''
Spacek's agent, meanwhile, says his client won't sign anything until he gets a look at what else might be on the table.
"We talked to the Oilers at mid afternoon and left the door open,'' said Stephen Freyer. "But we'll probably end up testing the market.
"It's not Edmonton's fault. He's interested in coming back and they've made offers that are perfectly respectable and reasonable. But this is probably Jaro's last contract. He'd like a few years, that gets him to 34 or 35. It's an important contract.
"Jaro owes it to himself to see what's out there.''
He might like what he sees. Like Pisani and Roloson, Spacek's stock jumped considerably after his impressive play down the stretch and through the playoffs with Edmonton.
"I would think so,'' said Freyer. "He was always playing in obscurity before. Now he finally got showcased. In the new NHL, he is a prototypical defenceman. He can skate and pass and get it out of the zone. He's rugged, not a banger, but he can play the game the way he needs to play it. And he's a great guy, a happy positive influence.''
The Oilers, who would love to get him wrapped up before 10 a.m., will likely now have to enter into a bidding war to get Spacek ($2.25 million last year) back. They run the risk now of somebody offering the 32-year-old Czech a home-run deal.
DOOR IS STILL OPEN
"Yes, but this doesn't close any doors in Edmonton,'' said Freyer. "I've been doing this a long time and you can never predict what is going to happen.''
Roloson, represented by Mark Witkin, is also inching closer to 10 a.m. without an Oilers deal.
"Nothing has transpired,'' Witkin said last night, adding he wasn't expecting any more talks until this morning. "We talked and hopefully made progress but we'll see. I'm sure if we reach 10 a.m. there will be other offers, but that doesn't mean deals with Edmonton still can't be done.''