October 06, 2010
The Edmonton Oilers have made a decision with their disgruntled defenseman Sheldon Souray(notes), and it's pretty much the same decision the Washington Capitals made with their disgruntled center Michael Nylander(notes) last month.
Nylander was sent packing from Hershey in the AHL for Rochester, the Florida Panthers' affiliate, with the Caps picking up his salary. The Oilers announced today that Souray will be loaned to Hershey, rather than to their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.
Having assigned Souray to the AHL, the Oilers cannot trade or play Souray until he passes through re-entry waivers. Any team could claim him, splitting the remaining two years of Souray's contract ($4.5 million per year) and cap hit ($5.4 million per) with Edmonton.
The Oilers moving Sheldon Souray to another team's minor league team in Hershey is exactly the right move for both Souray and the Oilers. It's been clear for some time there was no market for Souray at his current contract price. After his atrocious post-concussion play last year, he's got to show other teams that he's still a capable NHLer before anyone will take a risk on him. In Hershey, the top farm team of the Washington Capitals, he can show them he can play and he can also show them he's got the right attitude.
Staples is also impressed that owner Daryl Katz is demonstrating "that he's prepared to spend to make the Oilers a better team" by paying for Souray to be buried in the AHL until a trade can be found. Oilers Nation had a great take on Souray, the Oilers and a ticket to the AHL back in August.
We received a "no comment" from the Capitals on this today, and obviously there's some intrigue from NHL matchmakers who look at the Washington blue line and a defenseman like Souray and wonder if this is some kind of trial run. TSN's Bob McKenzie doesn't believe that's the case.
We have a call into the Bears for comment and will update accordingly. Keep an eye on Tim Leone of The Patriot-News for the AHL side of things. They've won the Calder Cup two years running and have potentially added Sheldon Souray to their blue line. Plus, the streets are paved with Mr. Goodbars miniatures. Or so we've been told.