Souray on the Move...Not What You Think


Written on 10/06/2010 by Jim Cerny

The Edmonton Oilers finally moved veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray today. But don't get too fired up over this piece of news because the real story isn't nearly as exciting as you might have hoped.

Souray, whom the Oilers have been trying to trade or lose through waivers all summer and through training camp, today had his rights assigned to the Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League.

No, Hershey is not Edmonton's farm team. That would be Oklahoma City.

Hershey is the minor league club for the Washington Capitals. Souray is being loaned there the same way that the Caps have loaned a veteran they don't want around---center Michael Nylander---to Rochester, the top farm team for the Florida Panthers.

While Edmonton is still forced to pay Souray's big salary, the Oilers do not have to absorb his robust $5.4 million cap hit while he is in the minors. Clearly GM Kevin Lowe does not want to pay Souray all season, but right now it is best for the 34 year-old defenseman---with 2 injury-marred seasons in the past 3 years---to prove that he is healthy and not a shell of his former All Star self.

Last year a concussion shelved Souray early and a broken hand suffered in a fight with Jarome Iginla in January finished off the rest of his season. Those injuries, plus his salary and cap hit, his age, and his questionable attitude kept other teams from trading for Souray or picking him off the waiver wire a few days ago.

Is he finished as a  star NHL player? Or is he the answer to some team's power play woes? It's worth noting that Souray played in 81 games with trhe Oilers just two years ago and totaled 23 goals (12 on the power play) and 53 points.

The real Souray must make himself clear in Hershey. If he displays a poor attitude and plays sub-par hockey, the Oilers are stuck paying him for the next two years, a huge issue for a notoriously penny-pinching team. However if he shows to be still a quality player, injury-free coupled with a solid attitude, Souray will be back in the NHL, no questions about it.

How does he return, if he returns?

If the Oilers are very lucky, they work out a trade with another team, say Columbus, who has been long-rumored to be interested in Souray. If they are not as lucky, the Oilers will place Souray on re-entry waivers and some team will snag him for half the salary and half the cap charge. That's not a perfect answer for the Oilers, but better than paying a player more than 4 million bucks to play for another team's minor league squad.

Souray was on the move today.

It won't be his last move this season.

Follow me on Twitter at: @jimcerny and @thenyrangers

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