Only One Way This Ends Well

On Saturday Sheldon Souray cleared waivers. That's right, the former Allstar and 26 goal defenceman was passed over by 29 other teams who could have had him for free.

Ok, Souray wouldn't have come free (not with a 2yr $5.4 M per year cap hit still remaining on his contract). But because a team would have had to give nothing to get him, Tambellini made a logical bet that some of the teams who missed out on the spree of defencemen the first day of free agency, might have wanted Souray as a backup plan. Tambellini was wrong and all 29 GM's said they'd rather go with Plan C.

The reality is, Souray might be plan C, D or E on an NHL GM's needs list. At his price point the odds were high to start with that Souray got moved and that along with recently being shutdown by everyone has to be humbling for Souray.

Remarks like the ones Souray made wouldn't have come from a man who thought he was unwanted everywhere. Souray likely never guessed at the time of his public statements that he'd be playing in the minors just a few months later. That's now a real option unless he begs to come back to Edmonton or gets put on re-entry waivers.

Here are all the options available to Edmonton now:

1) Re-entry waivers
2) Buy-out during the next buy-out period
3) Trade crap and money for crap and money
4) Play him in the minors
5) Bring him back to the Oilers.

The Oilers don't want him. Offering to give him away for nothing should be a clear indication of that. But, the Oilers will not buy Souray out and don't want to pay half of his salary for two years if claimed on re-entry. Even if the buyout period hadn't already ended (which it has), at $1.5 million per season over the next four years he's too expensive to do that with. His re-entry price hit is $2,700,000. Ouch.

A trade seems no longer much of an option. There were all sorts of rumors he'd be going here or there, but obviously the market for Souray is about as big as a grain of salt and since the Oilers don't want to take garbage for garbage, Edmonton can't really move him without an associated cost. That cost is likely a term longer or more expensive than the one attached to Souray.

You could play Souray in the minors, but here's the issue with that. From what we hear the Oilers are dead set against letting that type of cancer infest a much more young and susecptible lockerroom. If we thought the damage he could do to the Oilers was bad, imagine what he could do with a bunch of kids hanging on the every word of a proven pro. Souray could spread the negativity into every prospect coming up instead of his being the only bad apple. That's just compounding the problem.

So what can Edmonton really do? Somehow, when Souray bashed the team, he threw in that he'd be willing to come back. He's still got a crap attitude, always has. But of all the options this is the one I'd consider.

Let's say the last few days have really humbled Souray. He won't want to be obvious about it, but swallowing his pride, putting his tail between his legs and asking the fans, the team, the players and management to make this water under the bridge might be more possible than it sounds.

The Oilers have done a good job of bringing in quality guys who want to be Oilers. If management makes a conscious effort to treat them well and communicate, they'll be a lot of voices telling Souray to shut the hell up if gets out of line. If he's really regretting what he said and doesn't speak up unless in a positive more leader like way, the problem likely just kind of fizzles away.

The upside is, Souray actually plays well and stays healthy. It's conceivable that a line up with Gilbert, Whitney, Souray, Smid, Foster, Vandermeer and Strudwick is a better line-up than without. Souray's presence gives Edmonton two top powerplay units, a defenceman who can log minutes, but doesn't necessarily have to now and another weapon on offense. He too is tough as nails (outside of a freak wrist break on Iginla's head) and can be tough to play against.

If he starts strong, the teams that saw him as Plan C or D might move him to Plan B. He becomes much easier to trade then and the money, attitude and contract questions go away. If he really turns it around, there is about a 2% chance he makes keeping him a smart move.

I'm not sure how else this will end well, but it's the only option I can think of.

6 comments:

Is it possible we keep Souray in the minors and request that he keeps away from the team(s) forcing him to:
A. sit at home and collect his $5+ million

Or, best case scenario/wishful thinking

B. Souray requests the Oil break his contract making him a UFA?

I don't know if B is even possible but if he wants to play, it's his only choice.

shawn
July 3, 2010 at 6:04 PM comment-delete

Lowe said if he could do something differenet with pronger he would let him sit. Same here. let Souray sit...and rot. Oilers are not cup contenders now, so what's to lose? Let's get another high end pick and teach the whinely pros it's not the players perogative where they play after they sign a contract, the team makes the decision.

Anonymous
July 3, 2010 at 7:57 PM comment-delete

@shawn

Unfortunately, Souray can't request he be let out of his contract/released and the Oilers can't just release him without going through the process of a buyout.

It is possible that he sits at home after being sent to the minors, however he can't be brought back up without hitting re-entry waivers and the Oilers are dead set against just paying that money while he sits there.

If they choose to send him down they need to be prepared to swallow that money. Either way it sucks for the Oilers if a trade doesn't happen or he isn't an Oiler.

July 3, 2010 at 9:13 PM comment-delete

@ anonymous

The difference between Pronger and Souray, is that teams wanted Pronger, they just low-balled Edmonton. I'm not sure Lowe says this in the documentary because he'd have liked to work something out or teach a lesson, it's so that he'd have gotten a better return. If he had traded Pronger on his terms, it would have helped the Oilers in the bigger picture.

Nobody wants Souray at his dollar amount and injury history. He's not holding Edmonton ransom because he's good, it's because Edmonton has no partners to trade with.

In the end though, the only loss is money and cap hit. I agree the Oilers won't contend this year, but that's still a big hurdle.

July 3, 2010 at 9:16 PM comment-delete

What I keep thinking about is from Souray's side. Hmmmm - he must be wondering. If I were Souray, if possible I would come back and play for the Oilers - and ask such. He already seemed to leave that option open. This is like a player in the last year of his contract - if he does really well, someone will want him. Blame it on frustration with injury - anything - just get another chance to show you should be wanted by people.

It happened with Comrie - why not Souray?

Anonymous
July 4, 2010 at 6:51 AM comment-delete

@Anonymous

I agree and I think the best way to make this go away is to come back and be a force.

Management has a meeting with the new faces and asks them to watch out for each other and negative attitudes inside the lockeroom. They also have a meeting with Souray and say, this is your chance to do this over. Don't blow it and you'll get what you want.

July 4, 2010 at 10:19 AM comment-delete

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