Rush to receive a facelift

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:04 PM ET

PORTLAND -- Spring is the time of year for home renovations and the Edmonton Rush are not wasting any time breaking out their hammers and saws.

Having lost hope of qualifying for the NLL playoffs weeks ago, the Rush can get a headstart on the rebuilding plans of their roster for the 2007 season.

And there's obviously plenty of work to be done after the first-year team has managed just one win in 15 games heading into tonight's season finale against the Portland LumberJax.

"Guys should be fighting for their jobs - everyone knows it," said Rush GM/head coach Paul Day.

"We're definitely going to bring some guys back but we need to upgrade."

SHOPPING SPREE

Once the NLL playoffs wrap up, Stage 1 of the Rush's off-season plan will kick in - shopping for unrestricted free agents.

The Rush have made no secret that they'll be looking for veterans who can provide some much-needed scoring punch during the club's sophomore campaign.

With an expansion draft and franchise player delegations still to come, it's up in the air as to who exactly will be on the open market.

But the Rush's list of potential names - based upon the criteria of players who are 31 and older and who are West Coast-based - may include Colorado gunner Dan Stroup and Jason Wulder, the Calgary Roughneck who racked up 16 points in four games against the Rush this season.

"Last year we talked to some free agents but players didn't know if the team would fly in Edmonton and didn't know who (owner) Bruce Urban was," said A.J. Jomha, the Rush's director of lacrosse operations.

"They didn't want to leave and burn any bridges and then find out they didn't want to be here.

"But now we've answered their questions. In this league, money is not often the deciding factor - the environment is and we have a good reputation around the league and we've done a good job of treating the players well.

"The players know this is a good place to play."

The Rush's own list of unrestricted free agents is a short one led by Jason Clark, who has delivered a steady stream of offence since being acquired on waivers, and rugged Mat Giles, who was grabbed in a mid-season trade with Toronto.

Also in that group is 36-year-old sharpshooter Jamey Bowen and 46-year-old backup goalie Dwight Maetche.

Both players' better days are behind them but their leadership still makes them valuable commodities to the Rush.

The second stage of the Rush's renovations will be the NLL Entry Draft, where the club has the second pick.

"I think if we can get four to six good free agents especially offensive guys and we do well with our draft picks, we're going to be considerably better," said Day.

TRADE TALK

To round out the retooling, Day will almost certainly be talking trade during the summer.

And the name still at the top of the list is Colorado's Ben Prepchuk.

"We'd love to have Ben but it has to be the right deal because we're not going to mortgage our future for one guy," said Day of the Sherwood Park native who notched six points in the Mammoth's visit to Edmonton.

"If we get him, great, but we're not banking on it because we don't yet know the possible value of the free agents available."


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