After making a very public trade demand and calling out Oilers management, management’s subsequent attempts to accomodate said demands with no success, and last week, a 24 hour stint on waivers, what’s next for Sheldon Souray and the Edmonton Oilers?
Jason Gregor’s recent take that Souray can return is one I don’t share. Sure, anything’s possible, but if I’m Steve Tambellini, there’s no way I bring Big Sex back, nor would I buy him out, make him play in the minors, or place him on re-entry waivers in October. So that leaves trading him as the only real option. And we know they’re not getting Jordan Staal, Jack Johnson, Brandon Sutter, or anything remotely resembling these players.
With Souray’s value at a low, any trade the Oilers make will likely see them taking salary back in return. Which is why Tambellini opted to place him on waivers last Friday. No sense bringing back salary if they didn’t have to. But to no one’s surprise, he cleared waivers the following day, and the question remains: What do they do with Souray?
Obviously, it goes without saying that I’m no professional here, so let me get my RossCreeklund on and speculate on some of the potential options out there. Without the help of any inside knowledge or any real connections inside the game, I will make some educated (?) guesses as to who might be up for grabs in any such deal. To do so, I’ve enlisted the help of my good friends at NHLNumbers.com and my friends via subscription of nearly two decades, The Hockey News.
What are we looking for?
We need to find a team that is looking for a top-4 defenseman that can play on the PP. This team needs to have a player with a similar contract that they’re looking to move. The guy can’t be a complete dud either; he has to have some value to the Oilers.
This eliminates a lot of teams from the equation. Ideally, the player in return would only have one year remaining on their contract, but since Souray has two years left (each @ $4.5M salary, $5.4M cap hit), it’s quite likely the player will have two years left. So saddle up, as I explore some options. We’re also only going to look at players that don’t have NTC/NMC to make things easier. We wouldn’t want to get into a debate of why so-and-so (*cough* Michal Roszival *cough*) wouldn’t want to come to Edmonton again, do we?
With the retirement of Scott Niedermayer, one could say they may have some use for a PP d-man. With Lubomir Visnovsky, Toni Lydman & James Wisniewski in their top-4, there’s room for more. Would the Ducks have interest? Maybe. We know Souray would be thrilled… which is why we might rule sunny California out. But at the end of the day, Tambellini has to do what’s best for his hockey club.
Jason Blake – 2 yrs, $3M salary ($4M cap hit). Blake has been much maligned since signing with the Leafs back in the summer of 2007. At the age of 37 (and the height of 5-10), he’s not really someone I’d have much interst in, although he did have 16-25-41 in 82 games last year. Perhaps if he had one year left, but two… MEH. A buyout after this season would still cost the Oil $2M in 11/12 & $1M in 12/13. Pass.
The Bruins don’t have a lot of cap space, but after trading the disappointing Dennis Wideman, do they have a void on the backend? A booming shot on the PP could help.
Michael Ryder – 1yr, $4M salary & cap hit. Ryder’s a goal scorer, but that’s about it. When he’s not scoring, he’s not contributing anything. The fact that the Bruins would be taking on an additional year and an additional $1.4M in cap space make this possibility all but dead.
The Sabres seem to be looking for a PP d-man, and if they fail in their attempt to get Tomas Kaberle out of the Center of the Universe, they could be a possible destination. They aren’t a cap team, so they’d be more concerned with the actual $ than the cap number.
Tim Connolly – 1yr, $4.5M salary & cap hit. The Sabres have been rumoured to be looking to rid themselves of the injury-prone center. However, I’m not sure they’d move him without a suitable replacement, as they’d be left with just Derek Roy as a legit top-2 center. Adding Souray’s 2nd year might also be cause for concern. When healthy, Connolly could be the #1C the Oil are looking for.
Jochen Hecht – 2 yrs, yr1: $3.5M, yr2: $3M ($3.525M cap hit). Some might say "been there, done that" when it comes to Hecht, but he’s a top-9 forward that can play all 3 positions. He’s basically a 40 pt guy, and he’d save the Oil $1M salary this year & $1.5M next year with a cap savings of $1.875M in each of those years.
The Stars are a team with ownership issues, so I’m not sure about their willingness to take on Souray’s contract, but if it were based purely on a hockey decision, Dallas may be the best fit. Perhaps tossing Cogliano in and a wilingness to take some term on could lead to a deal of sorts. Because we’re not looking at younger players for this exercise, their young defenceman aren’t of consideration. But…
Mike Ribeiro – 3yrs, $5M salary & cap hit.Ribeiro’s also been mentioned in rumours, and I’m sure I’ve seen mention’s of a Ribeiro/Souray swap somewhere on these interwebs… fact or fiction, who knows. He is small, but he’s got some game. I’m not a fan of him, but a deal involving those two could be a nice fit for both teams. Would the Oil be willing to take on term though? Maybe an added swap of younger, cheaper players – Andrew Cogliano & Fabian Brunnstrom, for instance – could work. Maybe a "Magnus/Fabian Combo" lights the lamp… or not.
After losing Paul Martin, the Devils went out and signed defensive stalwart Anton Volchenkov along with Henrik Tallinder. That duo may help in keeping the puck out of their net, but its not going to do any wonders for their PP. Given Souray’s previous time in New Jersey, and Lou Lamoureillo’s penchant for re-acquiring former Devils, New Jersey could be a fit. But until Ilya Kovalchuk makes up his mind what he’s doing, Sweet Lou will stand pat.
Dainius Zubrus – 3yrs, $3.4M salary & cap hit. Again, whether or not the Oilers are interested in adding term, in this case at a much lower cap hit, is the issue. Zubrus has a huge frame and plays all three forward positions. Not an ideal acquisition, but not a completely terrible one, either. One thing taking term on does, though, is tying up portions of monies for 3 years from now when Taylor Hall is looking for a raise.
The Wild Card
The New York Freaking Islanders
Currently sitting at just under $36M, the whacky Islanders are well under the cap floor and need to take on salary just to get there. Jeff Marek mentioned an outrageous thought… don’t be surprised if the NYI take Huet to make the floor. If it were any other team, I’d laugh it off as bogus speculation. But the Islanders… former goalie-turned-GM, Garth Snow… Charles Wang… I dare say they just may do it. If I’m Tambellini, I’m making that call to Mr. Snow to see how you can
banish send Sheldon to that dump Long Island. It may be the only opportunity to unload Big Sex without taking any salary on.
While some of the above mentioned names may not be ideal, trying to bring a malcontent back into the fold is even less ideal, in my opinion. After rumours he made a private trade demand after the 08/09 season, Tambellini couldn’t find the right deal, so Souray returned to the fold without incident, still expecting a trade at some point. When that didn’t transpire this past season, he went public with his request and even threw management under the bus. With everything that’s ensued since, I believe there’s too much water under the bridge… well, there would be if the bridge was still there, but Sheldon already blew that up.
Cut your losses, Steve.