Scott Hartnell was nearly traded for Sheldon Souray last season


scotthartnell1.jpgIt’s said, sometimes to the point of it being done to death, that the best trades are often the ones that weren’t made. Late last night, Edmonton radio host Dan Tencer relayed a story from Global Sports television’s Kevin Karius on Twitter telling about how the Flyers and Oilers nearly made a big deal last season. That trade would’ve more than changed the complexion of the Philadelphia Flyers and would’ve eliminated one off-season headache this summer for the Oilers.

Last season Hartnell of the Flyers agreed to waive his NTC to come to Edmonton. Tambellini pulled out of a deal that would have sent Souray.

Scott Hartnell was cool with going to Edmonton and Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, who now can’t find anyone to take Sheldon Souray off his hands said “no” to it.  That’s stunning information. As with all stories and anecdotes such as these, there’s more to it than a simple summation can muster. Dan Tencer of the Edmonton Journal elaborates further on the stunning rumor.

After telling Tencer in an interview that Souray shouldn’t be allowed to attend Edmonton’s camp as things now stand, Karius said: “This could all have been avoided last year, Dan. Steve Tambellini offered Sheldon Souray to the Flyers for Scott Hartnell. And Hartnell has a no-trade clause and Paul Holmgren went to Hartnell and said, ‘Listen, the Oilers are interested in you. Would you waive your no trade?’ and Hartnell said, “You know, I’d like to, I woudln’t mind going to Edmonton and playing. He’s a Lloydminster guy. He’s an Alberta guy” He likes it here. I think it would have been a kind of a homecoming for him. A power forward, kind of what the Oilers need. So he said, ‘Go ahead.’ So Paul Holmgren phoned Tamby back and said, ‘Here is the deal. It’s done if you want it,’ and Tamby pulled out. So that could have been done last year.”

Mind you, stories like this are technically a rumor but there’s a lot of teeth to this one and unless Kevin Karius is itching to get fired out of Edmonton, there’s no reason for him to tell tall tales here. Depending on when, exactly, all this was playing out whether it was during a short window while Souray was healthy or while he was recovering from injury will help determine just how badly Steve Tambellini messed up on this whole thing. After all, finding a taker for Souray’s $5.4 million salary for the next two seasons is proving to be his biggest problem this off-season and if that could’ve been avoided by sending Souray away last year, the “what if?” game from Oilers fans would be off the charts.

As for the Flyers in this whole thing, they’ve got to be thankful that Tambellini did what he had apparently done because while Hartnell is a source of frustration at times, his work throughout the playoffs for the Flyers helped them get as far as they did. He was a menace around and in front of the net and did more good than bad. Souray would’ve been an extreme luxury on the blue line for the Flyers meanwhile they would’ve been a lot thinner up front.

While this trade that didn’t happen worked out really well for Philadelphia, it’s proving to be the burden of the summer for the Oilers because the inability to trade Souray is apparently slowing them down from doing anything else. I wonder if Steve Tambellini would like a do-over on this one.

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.