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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    Video: Weise records Gordie Howe hat trick after spirited scrap with Hamonic

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    Thursday’s game between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers wasn’t even nine minutes old by the time Dale Weise had recorded the Gordie Howe hat trick.

    Already with the opening goal and an assist on Radko Gudas‘ goal, giving Philly a 3-0 lead, Weise dropped the gloves with Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic for a spirited fight off a faceoff.

    Not many, if any, positives for the Islanders after a disastrous start. Needing a win to close the gap on the Boston Bruins in the wild card race, New York fell behind 5-0 by the time the first period was over.

    There is perhaps even more bad news for the Islanders: Hamonic wasn’t on the bench to begin the second period.

    The Islanders have since provided an update: Hamonic will not return to this game due to an upper-body injury.

     

     

    The Islanders are off to a disastrous start in Philly, Flyers chase Greiss

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    Talk about the worst possible start for the New York Islanders.

    Trailing the Boston Bruins by four points for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders lived through a nightmare to begin Thursday’s game, falling behind the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 4-0 — before the midway point of the first period.

    Dale Weise started the scoring at 4:30 of the first period. By the 9:19 mark, the Flyers opened up a four-goal lead and had already chased Islanders starting goalieThomas Greiss, who allowed three goals on eight shots.

    Jaroslav Halak was brought into the game and promptly surrendered a goal to Jordan Weal.

    It continued to get worse for the Islanders, who finished the first period trailing by five goals. Shots? They were 19-10 in favor of Philly. Yup. It was bad.

    With Josh Ho-Sang in the box serving a double-minor for high sticking, Wayne Simmonds gave Philly a 5-0 lead with his 30th goal of the year.

    Shaping up to be a long night for the Islanders.

    Karlsson’s ironman streak comes to an end as Sens visit Wild

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    For the first time since the lockout-shortened season, the Ottawa Senators will not have star defenseman Erik Karlsson in their lineup.

    With the Sens four points back of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead, Karlsson will not play tonight versus the Minnesota Wild, which ends his ironman streak at 324 consecutive games played.

    Karlsson trails Brent Burns by only five points for the lead in that category among NHL defenseman. He also logs close to 27 minutes of ice time per game. Only three blue liners in the entire league — Dustin Byfuglien, Drew Doughty and Ryan Suter — play more on average per game.

    The injury reportedly occurred when Karlsson blocked a shot against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Trade deadline acquisition Jyrki Jokipakka is expected to make his debut for Ottawa, per the Citizen.

    “If we miss him for a game or two, we’re not sure what’s going to happen,” forward Mark Stone told the Ottawa Citizen. “He’s the best defenceman in the world. If you take him out of your lineup, it’s obviously a huge blow.”

    WATCH LIVE: Stars at Bruins

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    The Boston Bruins hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and they will look to continue their push for the playoffs when they host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

    You can catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET) or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    McAvoy has the talent to improve Bruins right now

    NHL on NBCSN: Bruins continue push for playoff spot against Stars

    Stars go deeper than rock bottom in Ruff’s ‘worst game’ with team