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Four new Oilers see great promise in Edmonton

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Four of the Edmonton Oilers' offseason acquisitions are getting familiar with their new playing environment.

Defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Fayne, and forwards Benoit Pouliot and Teddy Purcell, are here this week doing some reconnaissance work.

While in town they plan on doing a little house hunting.

"We've been pretty busy. We're trying to get a feel for the city a little bit," Purcell said. "We've looked at some places, went over to the rink and got to meet some of the staff over there. We had dinner with the coaching staff [Monday] night too. It's been fun. It's been a hectic couple of days, but I think it's nice to get into the city and get a feel for it before coming in blind at training camp."

Aulie, Fayne, Pouliot and Purcell were brought in this offseason to complement the Oilers' young, up-and-coming roster.

Purcell was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 29 in a trade for center Sam Gagner. Aulie, Fayne and Pouliot were signed as free agents July 1.


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"It's exciting to hop on a plane from Regina [Saskatchewan] and be here in over an hour,"  Aulie said. "To meet the people here, see the people here and kind of get a feel of what the Oilers are all about is nice. Being at the rink [Tuesday] morning and meeting the training staff there was good. We're pretty excited to get it going.

"We got here [Monday] and looked around the city a little bit, trying to get a grasp of the city. It's nice to get in here early, see what it's about, know what's expected of you in the fall and to come in ready for training camp."

Purcell, 28, spent the previous five seasons with the Lightning. He had 12 goals and 42 points in 81 games last season and is expected to add depth to the Oilers' bottom two lines.

Aulie, 25, also was a member of the Lightning last season; he had one assist in 15 games.

"I'm a shut-down style defenseman. I play from my own end out," Aulie said. "I try to be aggressive, I try to be difficult to play against and I try to be hard on their forwards. I try to play a safe, solid game and kill penalties. I think I complement our other defensemen here pretty well. The Oilers have laid out what they expect from me and I can't wait to get going."

Fayne, 27, was brought in to add depth to the Oilers defense. He spent his entire four-year NHL career with the New Jersey Devils.

"My family had to get a lot of new apparel," Fayne said. "I'm excited about it. It's a good change and I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to getting the puck up to some of those younger guys and just let them fly. I think it'll be exciting.

"I really haven't left the East Coast too much in my life. I definitely had to think about it and weigh my options before signing here in Edmonton. Ultimately, I thought this was the best fit and I think I'll be able to adjust pretty well."

Pouliot, 27, is looking to make an adjustment, joining his sixth NHL team. The fourth pick of the 2005 NHL Draft by the Minnesota Wild, he spent last season with the New York Rangers when he had 15 goals and 36 points in 80 regular-season games. He had five goals and 10 points in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games as the Rangers lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final.

"I really enjoyed New York and I had a great time there," Pouliot said. "The team treated us well, but when it comes down to free agency you never know what's going to happen. Coming here is a challenge. It'll be fun. [The Oilers] are so fast the way the play the game, it's going to be a great fit."

Pouliot signed a five-year contract, which he hopes brings some stability to a career that has seen him spend time with the Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Lightning and Rangers.

"I'm just going to try to bring here what I brought to New York," Pouliot said. "We didn't start great in New York. It was a long beginning of the year, and then we got on a roll. Once we got on a roll and once we started to follow what we were supposed to do with the game plan and we became accountable for each other, we went far. We were on a roll at the end and it never stopped until the Cup Final. It was a good run."

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