Steady signing for Oilers

Daniel Tjarnqvist will man the blueline for the Edmonton Oilers after signing a one-year deal worth...

Daniel Tjarnqvist will man the blueline for the Edmonton Oilers after signing a one-year deal worth $1.625 million on Thursday. (File Photo)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 2:10 PM ET

Daniel Tjarnqvist was on a hunting trip in Sweden when all of a sudden he was the one getting bagged.

The Oilers, having lost two defencemen of their own this week, set their sights on the six-foot-two, 200-pound blueliner and pulled the trigger on the signing yesterday morning.

"I'm thrilled to be there," said the 29-year-old former Minnesota Wild player, who signed a one-year deal worth $1.625 million. "They're a young hard-working team, as we saw from them all of last year."

In a week when the Oilers lost three players from that run to the Stanley Cup final - Chris Pronger, Jaroslav Spacek and Georges Laraque - it's a welcome change to see someone at the Arrivals gate.

'THRILLED' TO PLAY HERE

"I played against Edmonton a lot last year and they were a tough team to play against, they skated well and were physical and played with a lot of emotion," said Tjarnqvist. "I can't answer why the other guys are not staying but I'm thrilled to be going there."

And they're glad to have him.

"He's a good player, he's not very physical but he moves the puck well, he has good vision and he makes a good first pass," said Oilers vice-president of hockey operations Kevin Prendergast. "I think he'll be a good asset for us."

Tjarnqvist's agent, Todd Diamond, said the Oilers are a perfect fit for the 2006 Olympic gold medallist.

"We spoke with many teams and in the end we were down to two or three," he said. "We felt Edmonton was absolutely the best opportunity because of what happened with Pronger and Spacek."

MORE ICE TIME

It frees up a lot of ice time and gives Tjarnqvist a chance to showcase his ability.

"We feel Daniel has kind of gone under the radar in the National Hockey League," said Diamond. "He's not well known. We felt it was necessary to put him somewhere where he would be seen a lot and get an opportunity to show his best. Hockey is the gospel in Canada, so it was a good fit."

Tjarnqvist is definitely one of the lesser-known talents in the league - he doesn't get a lot of points and isn't very physical - but he averaged 19:46 of ice time with Jacques Lemaire's Wild (second most among defencemen there), so you know he's pretty reliable defensively.

"You better be good defensively in Minnesota, otherwise they chop a finger off," chuckled Diamond.

"Jacques has taught me a lot," added Tjarnqvist, who had three goals, 15 assists and 32 penalty minutes in 60 games last year. "I just have to work hard and play my style. I'm very excited; it feels really good to be going there."

Diamond did a one-year deal in the hope Tjarnqvist will impress Oilers management enough they'll be willing to renegotiate a longer-term deal in mid-season.

"He's not well known," said Diamond. "But if he comes there, gets good ice and shows what he can do, hopefully we can do an extension with Edmonton in the second half of the year." If he knocks their socks off it'll be good for all concerned.

"It's good to see guys who want to do that," said Prendergast. "At least he's got enough confidence in his ability."

Meanwhile, the Oilers still have defenceman Dick Tarnstrom on the hook, but he's asking for a big bump on his $1.6 million salary of last year.

If they can't land him, they'll venture back into the unrestricted free agent market.


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