In case you didn’t hear last night’s startling news, the Edmonton Oilers told expensive defenseman turned highly publicized trade bait Sheldon Souray to stay away from their training camp this summer.
The decision was surprising to just about anyone outside of the Oilers organization, including Souray. Here is what the beleaguered blueliner told the Edmonton Journal.
Tambellini not only doesn’t want Souray in training camp, he also made it clear that the defenceman will not be in an Oilers jersey at any point this season.
“Master of the obvious … I guess they don’t want this to be a distraction,” said Souray, who voiced his displeasure with management at the end of last season and said he wanted to be traded.
“I wouldn’t be a distraction … I was planning on coming in, planning on being focused and ready to do whatever to be a professional,” said Souray, who is back in town skating with the other Oilers at Kinsmen Arena.
On one hand, I commend the Oilers for standing their ground and for avoiding the disingenuous practice of acting like the trade requests and negative feelings never existed. The team clearly wants to change from the culture that helped produce an absolutely disastrous 2009-10 season in which Edmonton was far and away the worst team in the NHL.
The thing is, if GM Steve Tambellini struggled to find decent trade value for Souray during the summer, how exactly is he going to find a good market now that every general manager knows that the 34-year-old defenseman will absolutely not play a second for the Oilers this season?
This reminds me of the predicament the Chicago Blackhawks were in when they needed to move Dustin Byfuglien for salary cap reasons, with four obvious caveats: Byfuglien is young, didn’t deal with injury problems, is far less expensive and has the musk of victory rather than the stink of defeat attached to his name like Souray.
Edmonton is in a tough spot when it comes to moving Souray, but with the near-callous way they are acting right now, it’s difficult to feel much empathy for them. Souray begins to look like a bit of a victim – albeit a well compensated one – as this situation drags on.
By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.
You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.
Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.
Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.
Here’s the Jurco goal:
Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by Ondrej Palat:
Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.
The bad news is that Artem Anisimov seems likely to miss all – or at least most – of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks with his lower-body injury.
The good? Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville believes that Anisimov will be ready once the playoffs swing into motion, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.
Anisimov was hurt when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Alex Radulov on March 14:
The Blackhawks have been filling Anisimov’s typical spot alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin with Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz lately. There have been flashes of brilliance with Schmaltz, but Chicago would probably feel most confident with Anisimov back in his familiar place.
Chicago’s Central lead is pretty secure over the Minnesota Wild at the moment, which likely reduces motivation to rush Anisimov back before he’s truly ready. The Blackhawks close out their regular season on April 8, so there’s still time for him to heal up.
The Anaheim Ducks are flying high – er, waddling with some swagger? – right now thanks to Jonathan Bernier‘s somewhat shocking turnaround, but the pending return of John Gibson is promising.
(Especially since the Ducks will likely want him to shake off some rust before the playoffs begin.)
While it’s not clear if he’s exactly 100 percent healthy just yet, the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth back to the AHL is a strong sign that Gibson is close.
Enroth actually never got a shot to start for the Ducks, as his last NHL appearance came on Nov. 30, closing off his ill-fated run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Considering that Enroth was once a fairly hot commodity as at least a promising backup, it will be interesting to see how his 2017-18 season pans out. Will he get more or less of a chance than he received this season?
Bernier, meanwhile, is richly rewarding the Ducks for sticking with him.
He’s provided them with a Vezina-caliber March: 9-1-1, 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with one shutout. You almost wonder if there’s at least some potential for a goalie controversy if Gibson stumbles whenever he gets back into action … but hey, having two good goalies to choose from is better than none.
(Which was the scenario that must have scared the Ducks when Gibson got hurt in the first place.)
The Tampa Bay Lightning almost certainly haven’t faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a game this important since the two teams were vying for a Stanley Cup.
While the Blackhawks have already punched their ticket to the postseason and are merely trying to pad their lead in the Central Division, the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives. At the moment, they rank three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the East. With a game in hand, they can make up a lot of ground tonight.
With all of that in mind, it should be an entertaining contest. You can check it out on NBCSN, watch online or via the NBC Sports App.
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