If you’re an Edmonton Oilers fan and you’re hoping that deposed defenseman Sheldon Souray is going to be finding his way out of the Oilers organization sometime soon, you might want to think again. With Souray being loaned to the Hershey Bears in the AHL after being demoted by the Oilers, Souray is a man who is out of sight and out of mind as far as the rebuilding team goes. While the Oilers would very much like to find a way to get Souray out of their sight and off their payroll, they’re not in any hurry to go doing anything too rash.
“(Team president) Patrick (LaForge) and I spoke to about 12,000 ticket holders through various lunches and breakfasts to give them our plans for the next wave of what I saw needed to take place with the club, and the thing that kept coming back from our market was that nobody wanted a quick fix,” said Oilers GM Steve Tambellini.
“I told them we’ll build from within, and people agreed with what we were going to do. We had to start the organization again, and we have to re-do the way we work everything.”
And that includes taking their time to decide what their next step is with the banished blueliner, who they wanted to keep so far away from their new culture that he was loaned to the Washington Capitals’ farm club in Hershey, where he debuted on the weekend.
“We’ve tried to find a hockey deal for the last year, and the next thing is either placing him on re-entry waivers or waiting until the spring and making a hockey trade,” Tambellini said.
“A cash asset now or trade asset later — that’s what we’ll have to evaluate now.”
It’s a bit crazy to think that Souray could stay in the AHL all season. After all, the guy can still play and while his salary is certainly on the high side, he could be valuable to a team in need of a defenseman with a big shot from the point who can play a physical game. Souray’s inability to stay healthy all season long is certainly an issue and one most teams are aware of, but if the Oilers were to take a chance floating him through re-entry waivers (where Edmonton would have to pay half his salary if he was claimed) it’s possible a team might take a chance on him for the reduced price.
For now, Souray is just an NHL player without a true home stuck in the AHL (much like Michael Nylander) because he just costs too much for his team. While the Oilers could certainly use a player like him in their lineup, the fact that they sent him home before training camp so as to not even interact with the team tells you everything you need to know about what they think of him.