Oilers receive more criticism for barring Sheldon Souray from training camp

Thumbnail image for oilersgmtambellini.jpgPerhaps the most surprising news of this week came when the Edmonton Oilers announced that wayward defenseman Sheldon Souray would not attend training camp. Apparently we’re not alone in wondering how, exactly, such a move will make it easier to trade the useful but injury-ravaged blueliner.

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson feels the same way, pointing out that a team like the Columbus Blue Jackets (one team in need of a point man with a rocket shot like Souray’s) would be much more willing to give Souray a try if he was ready to go right away, a possibility that is much more limited if Souray isn’t attending training camp.

Isn’t it considerably easier to trade an asset who’s in an NHL jersey, playing games, especially one with the checkered injury past of Souray, than it is when that player is gathering dust and skating with, say, the University of Alberta Golden Bears during training camp?

NHL teams want to see if Souray is not only productive with the puck on his stick, but healthy, don’t they? The Columbus Blue Jackets could seriously use his bazooka from the point, in concert with speedy playmaker Kris Russell on the power play.

But for general manager Scott Howson’s intrigue to move to solid interest, you would think he would want to see Souray on the ice if he hasn’t been in a game since breaking his hand in a fight with Jarome Iginla nine months ago.

Not only that, but if the season starts and it’s November and a team gets antsy for an offensive guy, aren’t they going to be less gung-ho for a trade if they’re going for a player who needs to feel his way into games because he’s had none in camp, or early in the season?

Absolutely, on both counts.

Thumbnail image for sweatysheldonsouray.jpgMatheson interviewed an NHL agent who made a great analogy. Keeping Souray out of training camp is like putting up a house up for sale but stating that it needs major renovations.

I can see the logic in wanting to “stand their ground,” but I doubt that Souray would be such a cancer that he’d infect the culture of the team and poison newcomers such as Taylor Hall. He’s not an outright necessity on a team that has some decent potential point producing defenseman including Tom Gilbert and turnover machine Ryan Whitney, but would it hurt to have a guy with some skill like him anyway?

The Oilers are resolute in making this decision, but they better be prepared to deal with the fall-out that comes with it. Their options probably boil down to paying Souray to $4.5 million to play in the AHL (according to CapGeek.com), trading him for negligible value or even wasting cap space and money by letting another team claim him on re-entry waivers. They aren’t in a great position either way, but now it seems like they’ve traded an uphill battle for climbing up a mountain.

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    Kassian has ‘no hard feelings’ towards Canadiens

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    Zack Kassian never played a regular season game for the Montreal Canadiens. But unless he is held out of Edmonton’s lineup on Saturday, he’ll face his old team as a member of the Oilers.

    The Habs acquired Kassian from the Canucks in the summer, after the 25-year-old forward essentially wore out his welcome in Vancouver under the team’s new management. However, an October car accident that Kassian was involved in set forward a number of events that appears to have ultimately changed Kassian’s life for the better.

    He told reporters that car accident might’ve been the best thing to happen to his career.

    After the accident, he was placed in Stage 2 of the Substance Abuse program and suspended without pay. He was reinstated in December and immediately waived by the Canadiens. A couple of weeks later, he was traded to Edmonton.

    And, after opening up about his struggles with alcoholism, he’s since been recalled to the NHL, appearing in eight games for the Oilers, scoring twice and adding four points.

    “I’m not looking for any redemption,” said Kassian, as per Sportsnet.

    “Me, I got an opportunity to play for the Edmonton Oilers and I’m very thankful for that. I’m not mad at Montreal by any means. If anything I’m mad at myself for screwing up that opportunity. I’m just looking to move forward. Obviously it will feel nice if I get a goal [Saturday] or even better if we get a win but there’s definitely no hard feelings.”

    Video: It took only 4:33 of the first period for Hurricanes to build 3-0 lead on Jets

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    The Carolina Hurricanes got off to a spectacular start on Friday. Conversely, their opponent, the Winnipeg Jets, got off to a horrendous start.

    Before Friday’s game was even five minutes old, the Hurricanes had built a three-goal lead. Phillip Di Giuseppe opened the scoring at 1:43 of the first period. By the 4:33 mark, when Jordan Staal scored, Carolina was up three, forcing a goalie change for the Jets.

    Connor Hellebuyck was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots.

    Update: It’s 4-0 Hurricanes . . . 10:04 into the game. Yup. Could be a long one tonight in Winnipeg.

    Scrivens and slumping Habs face daunting task against McDavid and suddenly high-flying Oilers

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    Connor McDavid is kind of good.

    In the two games since his return to the Edmonton Oilers, he’s kind of — just kind of — had an impact. Five points in two games — that counts as an impact, right? Oh, and did you see this goal in his return earlier this week?

    Since McDavid’s highly anticipated return Tuesday against Columbus, the Oilers have outscored the opposition 12-3 in two games. Small sample size? Yes. Against teams currently not in playoff positions? Yes.

    But that’s still very impressive and with him in the lineup, there appears to be a sense of optimism in Edmonton.

    Enter the free-falling Montreal Canadiens. Enter goalie Ben Scrivens, who only made his debut for the Habs at the end of December and will face his old team, the Oilers, on Saturday.

    In four games with the Habs, Scrivens has been scored on 15 times.

    The Habs, without Carey Price, have been in a tumble down the Eastern Conference standings for a long time now. And, really, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.

    Now, the Habs and Scrivens are tasked with facing McDavid and the suddenly high-flying Oilers.

    And Canadiens fans probably aren’t the cheeriest right now, as their team has gone from on the verge of NHL history in October to becoming an afterthought in the playoff picture in February.

    In each of their last seven games, the Habs have failed to score more than two goals in regulation. So it would seem that if Montreal is to get a win, Scrivens will need to be as close to perfect as possible.

    No pressure.

    “Unfortunately, it seems like my whole career has been playing behind teams that don’t have that confidence, except for my time in L.A.,” Scrivens told reporters.

    “It’s a challenge as a goalie but all you can do is worry about your job. I can’t go out there and start trying to break pucks out and do anything I’m not supposed to be doing. My job is to try and stop pucks and try and stop as many as I can.”

    With the way McDavid and the Oilers have been scoring since the break and his return, it appears that will be a monumental task for Scrivens.

    And with the Habs in a 1-8-1 slide in the past 10 games, the timing probably couldn’t get any worse.

     

    Stars put Spezza on injured reserve, recall Faksa from AHL Texas

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    Sitting three points out of top spot in the Central Division and on the eve of an important divisional clash on home ice with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Dallas Stars have placed center Jason Spezza on injured reserve retroactive to Thursday, the club announced on Friday.

    Spezza, 32, was injured during Thursday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars can move back to within a point of Chicago for the division lead with a regulation win on Saturday.

    In 52 games this season, Spezza has 18 goals and 40 points, which ties him with Patrick Sharp for fourth on the team in total points.

    With Spezza out, the Stars recalled 22-year-old forward Radek Faksa from the Texas Stars in the AHL.

    Faksa has 15 goals and 26 points in 28 games this season with Texas. In 18 games with the NHL Stars, he has one goal and three points.