Souray Leaving is a Question of Leadership...

Sheldon Souray answered a number of questions in the first of two straight on-ice days that were originally scheduled to be days off for the Edmonton Oilers.

While many of the questions consisted of the natural frustration he feels as a member of a very poor and 15th place Oilers team, one answer created all sorts of buzz immediately after it became knowledge Souray had given it.

That was, that Souray would be willing to waive his no trade clause to play for another team.

Now, before fans to go too over the top with speculation, this in no way means that Souray has either asked for a trade, nor have the Oilers asked if they could move him.

From what we hear, neither actually wants Souray to play anywhere except Edmonton. The problem, and Souray knows it, is that he has trade value around the NHL and he could be in Edmonton at the wrong time in his career.

Souray makes a good dollar on a long term contract. The issue becomes, is his contract long enough that when the Oilers are finished their re-build and Souray's abilities to this team are beneficial, is it too late to make a difference?

The answer is likely yes.

Souray has two years after this one left on his current deal that pays him $5.4 million per season. The Oilers re-build will take 2-3 years. The two don't match, especially considering Souray will be 36 when any new contract starts.

As a result, the second question then becomes, does his abilities now as a player and a leader help those new young players trying to establish themselves as NHL players help the Oilers? Does that mean as much as his on-ice skill and, is it worth $5.4 million per season to find out?

Souray is obviously captain material. With Ethan Moreau very strongly rumoured as on his way out, Souray would be a natural replacement as team captain and doing so might do this Oilers team a world of good.

Captains aren't always your best players, yet more often than not though, they're close. Moreau is neither the best player nor the best leader this team has, and Souray is arguably the best defenseman and best voice of leadership. He can speak not only with his words, but his play. For a team bound to flood the floor before it scrapes the ceiling, a skill like this might be important for the team.

For a crop of new rookies, namely Jordan Eberle, Magnus Svennson and whomever the Oilers draft this year, who is the better suited person to lead these players into the NHL? Moreau or Souray?

Seeing as Moreau is not even close to the best forward on the team, many might suggest Souray. I'd agree. But for the same reasons, other NHL teams might be willing to add him to their playoff contending rosters. He brings skill, size, grit and leadership. That combination, if affordable is a trade deadline dream pick-up.

So which question holds more power? What is the return the Oilers could get if they move Souray? Or, What is the cost of sending out a natural leader who is one of our better players?

The answer is an obvious combination of both and before any move is just swiftly made to clear cap space, should be heavily thought-out.

Tambellini will need to weigh the pros of any return for the d-man, and the cons of moving such a natural leader who truly wants to be in Edmonton. Can he improve the team by moving Souray or is he just a money dump? Can the Oilers replace what he brings in trade or the offseason or do they create another large hole difficult to fill? Should Souray go, is there another person in our lockerroom that could lead this team to becoming a steadily improving threat in the NHL?

Even in the face of some news that could have gone devastatingly badly, Souray came out looking like a player who if moved, is thinking Oilers first, Souray second. Things like that shouldn't go unnoticed.

If Tamebellini is planning to move Souray because interest in the blue-liner exists, he should be darn careful in what he moves Souray for. I would hate to see another Ryan Smyth type trade, where in two years, fans are suggesting it was the worst trade deadline move the Oilers ever made.


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The Oilers Must Want Taylor Hall Just a Little Bit More...

It was a Western Conference battle between two teams that are looking at being strong favorites for lottery picks come this years NHL entry draft.

The Blue Jackets have won now just four games in their last 25 starts, their latest victory on Thursday over Edmonton being one of them. The Oilers have now lost eleven of their last twelve.

It's a pretty safe bet, that both GM's had a strong interest in how Taylor Hall performed at the World Juniors.

Thursday's win gives the Jackets still little to be excited about. Just beating a lowly Edmonton Oilers team and moving two points further in a very difficult conference isn't going to set their ships sailing. The game might have meant the most to Ken Hitchcock, who may have saved his job just a little while longer after rumors were he was looked as the next NHL coaching casualty.

Meanwhile, the Oilers will now take to a four day mini-camp to re-evaluate their situation. This is also going to be a four day meeting session between management and scouts to see which direction this team should go moving forward.

The Oilers will never come forward publicly with a plan, but subtle moves, or non-moves as it may go, should tell fans a lot about what to expect the rest of the year.

Do the Oilers make a move for a stronger presence in goal? Perhaps, but I contend only if it means successfully being able to move a contract the Oilers would like to get rid of.

Do the Oilers try to dump a few contracts now? My guess is not likely, unless someone comes knocking prior to the trade deadline. Only in that case, could Edmonton possibly obtain fair value for whatever is going the other way.

To me, it seems the only logical move is to quietly make the best push to win games that you can for the fans and the sale of future tickets, but to at the same time increase your odds of guaranteeing your spot in the draft.

There are three ways to do so.

1) Lose hockey games without changing a thing. With still half a season left, the Oilers could (not likely) turn it around. Their decimated with injuries and even without them are slightly better than what they seem to be producing now, but the team still puts forth the effort, and could squeak out a few wins, but it's likely just not enough.

2) Lose hockey games by relieving yourself of some of the pieces that will be attractive to other teams. Could you move Staios, Moreau, Pisani, Souray, Horcoff or someone with some cache to a playoff team? At any time it becomes available, make the move. Some like Horcoff and Souray may be tougher sells, but injuries to key players on contending teams could play a part.

3) Trade for a better draft position and try to improve your position in the standings now. This means getting improved goaltending, moving for a smaller trades that fill holes and talking to teams like the Boston Bruins who have a number of picks at this years draft and one really good one considering where Toronto is bound to end up.

I'm of the stance we go somewhere in between 1 and 2. The Oilers currently sit 29th in the NHL. It's likely not going to be stretch for them to stay there. That said no one really wants their team to lose.

What would you do?


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