Right price, right time

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:06 PM ET

A player with the offensive skills of Petr Sykora is hard to pass up when the time and price is right.

So, when the Edmonton Oilers saw an opportunity to add the talented Czech forward to their lineup in the wake of a player exodus out of town that included unhappy Chris Pronger and free agents Jaroslav Spacek and Sergei Samsonov this summer, they pursued it.

After weeks of negotiations with agent Ritch Winter, the Oilers got their man yesterday, putting pen to paper on a one-year contract with the 29-year-old Sykora that'll pay him $2.9 million next season.

In Sykora, the Oilers have added more scoring punch to a group of forwards that already boasts plenty of it in Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll, Joffrey Lupul, Raffi Torres and Fernando Pisani.

Just as important, perhaps more so, is the fact Sykora is a power-play specialist in an era of special teams. That will help soften the blow that came when Pronger bolted town for Anaheim after demanding a trade.

Right time. Right price. Enter Sykora.

"I was very happy when I got the offer to play for this team,'' said Sykora, who was introduced to media in the Oilers dressing room yesterday. "I always wanted to play in Canada.''

With the addition of Sykora, who underwent and passed a battery of physical tests at the University of Alberta yesterday morning before the ink on the deal was completed, the Oilers are getting a player who has seven seasons of 20-or-more goals on his resume before his 30th birthday.

EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES

Sykora, who played with Lupul in Anaheim at the start of last season, gives the Oilers an embarrassment of riches on the right side, joining Hemsky, coming off a career year with 77 points, Lupul, who scored 28 goals, and Pisani, who led playoff goal-scorers last spring with 14.

"This team had a lot of success last season. It was a pleasure for me to watch them.'' said Sykora. "Hopefully, I can help them make the extra step.''

The bonus with Sykora is he can play all forward positions. With Hemsky and Lupul emerging as top-tier players and Pisani worthy of better than third-line playing time, the addition of Sykora won't be a problem.

"When I check the roster, it doesn't matter who I play with here or which position,'' said Sykora, who has spent lots of time at centre. "I can play in any position. I can get used to any player. I think I've proved that over the years. I've played the last few years on the right side, so I would probably prefer to play there, but it doesn't really matter.''

If anything, Sykora will provide coach Craig MacTavish with some flexibility in putting together three lines that, from here, look potentially as potent as any group of nine forwards I can think of.

"Petr's a versatile forward who can play any of the three forward positions and he will likely be asked to do so,'' said assistant GM Scott Howson.

"He brings offence to our team ... just as important, he's a proven playoff performer and a Stanley Cup winner. He's been to the final three times. For us, it's an exciting and significant addition to our hockey team.''

POWER PLAY SPECIALIST

As for the power play, Petr Nedved proved before the lockout how effective a creative forward working the half-boards or point can be. With 22 of his 51 points coming on the power play last season, Sykora will be a factor.

Given the circumstances under which Pronger and Nedved left town, it should be mentioned that Sykora is married. That, like Sykora's prowess working the point on the power play, came up yesterday.

"I like the city,'' said Sykora, asked what he knows about life and long winters in this NHL outpost. "When I was 15, 16, 17, I lived here in the summer with a family. I really like the city.

"I don't know who would not like to play here. This is a great organization with an unbelievable history. It's something special and I'm very excited about it.''

And Renata, his bride of one year?

"She has never been to Edmonton,'' smiled Sykora. "She will like Edmonton. She goes wherever I go. She is very supportive.''

Right time. Right price.


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