As per Nick Kypreos, the Edmonton Oilers have finally taken the next inevitable step in the Sheldon Souray saga: they’ve placed the veteran defenceman on re-entry waivers.
For other clubs, this means that the total cost to acquire Sheldon Souray is as follows:
- $2.25 million in actual salary pro-rated over the rest of this season, as well as $2.25 million in actual salary next season
- $2.7 million in cap hit pro-rated over the rest of this season, as well as a $2.7 million cap hit next season
If claimed, the Oilers will pay the identical amount in salary and cap hit so that Souray can play for another NHL club.
Despite the doom and gloom we’ve heard this season about Souray – that he hasn’t been placed on re-entry waivers prior to this because Steve Tambellini feared he would clear, that the New York Rangers scouted him and didn’t want him – I would be surprised if he cleared. The fact is, as Lowetide has said time and again (and pointed out in his article this morning) that NHL defenceman have exceptional value at deadline day. Generally, they cost a lot. Interestingly, Tambellini has decided to gamble here that someone will be interested – according to Bob McKenzie, a deal has not been pre-arranged.
In this case, for the league’s other 29 teams there is the possibility of acquiring a top-four defenceman (and the certainty of acquiring at the very least a power play specialist) for no assets. Teams looking to make noise in the playoffs are sure to value that. The difference between Souray’s cap hit and actual salary is also bound to appeal to smaller market teams – they can make up part of their obligation to get to the salary floor without paying all the money to get there.
I remember these sorts of deals well from back when the Oilers were a small budget team that always struggled to stay competitive. The fact is that teams hard up for cash and talent sometimes need to take chances, and one has to think Souray will appeal to at least one of them. The fact they need to take on an additional year is certainly somewhat worrisome, but it is a calculated risk, and the potential for gain is there.
Either way, this will mark a turning point. If Souray is claimed, this ugly story comes to an end, at the cost of some cap hit and a few million from the Oilers. If Souray goes unclaimed, it will be abundantly clear to everyone (not least of all to Souray himself) that his stature has fallen to the point where the player needs to move heaven and earth to get himself back to the National Hockey League.