New Edmonton Oilers winger Teddy Purcell aims to shoot more often


Forward acquired in Sam Gagner deal says he plans to take advantage of new teammates’ playmaking abilities

Edmonton Oilers forward Teddy Purcell.

Edmonton Oilers forward Teddy Purcell.

Photograph by: Larry Wong, Edmonton Journal

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EDMONTON - Teddy Purcell has come full circle after being traded to the Edmonton Oilers, seven years after his first NHL game at Rexall Place.

He was a deer in the headlights back then.

“I got called up from (Los Angeles AHL farm team) Manchester, was in the airport all day, got delayed and didn’t get to Edmonton until about one o’clock the night before. I didn’t know if I’d even play, but first shift I got a two-on-one with Rob Blake. It was all a blur,” said Purcell, who was acquired June 29 from the Tampa Bay Lightning, in a three-way deal that included the Arizona Coyotes, who landed centre Sam Gagner from Edmonton. “Even as I look back, I’m still nervous. Where did the puck go? I passed it to Blake, but off his skate. Looking back, I should have shot.”

Purcell said he get yelled at a lot for not firing the puck more often — he recorded 156 shots in 80 games last season — “but there are lots of guys here who can make plays, so I’ll shoot more.”

For the record, Purcell has taken 776 shots in 400 career NHL games — he’s no Taylor Hall, for example, who has fired 797 in 246 games.

Think Ales Hemsky, only bigger.

Purcell is in town with free-agent signees Benoit Pouliot, Mark Fayne and Keith Aulie getting the lay of the land here. The group had dinner with Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish and the coaching staff Monday night, went to the rink Tuesday morning, looked at some housing properties and may fit in a round of golf.

Purcell will be either the second- or third-line right-winger, depending on where Nail Yakupov is slotted.

“I spoke to Dallas (coach Eakins) the day I got traded, and from what he says, he’ll give me lots of opportunities,” said Purcell, who was also on the power play in Tampa.

He could fill the Hemsky role here, on the boards, dishing the puck.

“I was pretty fortunate to play with some high-end guys in Tampa (Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis). I tried to fit in where they weren’t and I think it’ll be similar here with lots of high-end skill guys. Wherever they put me, I’ll embrace it and run with it. I was on the half-wall down low in Tampa.”

New defenceman surprised at quick signing

Keith Aulie, who was signed for a bargain $800,000, has a leg up, at worst, on the No. 7 job on the Oilers blue-line.

But the six-foot-six, 228-pounder is aiming higher.

“I’d like to be a top four defenceman,” said Aulie, who was plagued by injuries and who fell out of favour in Tampa.

The Lightning didn’t send the restricted free-agent a qualifying offer. They liked six-foot-eight Czech Andrej Sustr more.

“I’m a shutdown type D-man, playing from my end out, playing a safe game, killing penalties,” said Aulie, who concedes he was surprised he was signed on the first day of free agency. “I thought the big dogs would go and I might have to wait until the second or third day. This is a young group here that desperately wants to win. There’s nowhere to go but up. The new guys want to make a positive impact.”

Expect a celebration of original 1984 Cup-winning team

There’s a good chance the 1984 Stanley Cup champion Oilers squad, the first of their five Cup teams, will be saluted here sometime this season on the 30th anniversary of the championship.

Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr have had their numbers retired and have been honoured here, but it will be nice to see unsung Cup helpers such as Willy Lindstrom, Pat Conacher, Pat Hughes, Don Jackson and Jaroslav Pouzar — who no longer live in Edmonton — at a celebratory weekend or a game.

Kevin Lowe, Lee Fogolin, Dave Hunter, Randy Gregg and Dave Lumley have lived here for years.

Follow me on Twitter: @NHLbyMatty

Edmonton Oilers forward Teddy Purcell.

Edmonton Oilers forward Teddy Purcell.

Photograph by: Larry Wong, Edmonton Journal

Edmonton Oilers forward Teddy Purcell.
Edmonton Oilers defenceman Keith Aulie.
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