Of all the sagas in Oilerdom, the Sheldon Souray affair is one of the cruddiest. For an Alberta boy to become disillusioned so quickly with the team and then play himself out of trade contention pretty much represented the worst-case scenario.
Had Souray been more affable with the situation, he could have helped the organization’s prospects in Oklahoma City. Several NHL-caliber defensemen with laborious contracts are currently in the American League, but those players (Jeff Finger and Mike Commodore among them) have taken the demotion as an opportunity to at least help out the kids and make the best of it.
With Souray in Hershey, the Oilers get no benefit. So what’s the solution? The veteran cleared waivers this week, meaning no NHL team wanted to jump at taking him off Edmonton’s hands. The Oilers could always buy the remainder of his contract out, but then they’d be using up cap space and frankly, doing Souray a favour.
Right now, the big blueliner with the cannon shot is a toxic asset. The only way to move him to another team would be to construct a deal so one-sided that essentially Oilers GM Steve Tambellini would be saying “What can I give you to take Sheldon Souray?” And for a team stockpiling talent, that’s not really the way to go about business.
If there’s one saving grace for the Oilers, it’s that money is much less of an object with Daryl Katz in the owner’s chair. Edmonton can indeed just wait out the remainder of Souray’s contract and keep him buried in the minors. The unfortunate part is watching many other teams in the league off-loading trade chips and reaping the rewards. While Souray can no longer be considered as valuable as Tomas Kaberle or even Eric Brewer, even getting a late draft pick in return for him would be nice. But things went too sour too fast and Souray’s fighting-related injuries complicated matters even further.
Sadly, waiting it out is the best course of action for Edmonton.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.