TSN reported today that Sheldon Souray cleared waivers, but remains in limbo as he has not been assigned to the AHL, his contract has not been bought out, nor has he been assigned to the NHL roster. Rumors from Twitter, message boards and blogs have him heading to nearly every team in the league. Even Pierre LeBrun and Bob McKenzie have joined in the fun in the last few days. Rumors have Souray heading to the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes.
TSN quotes Souray as saying "I understand the business side of things and I hope things work out for both the Oilers and for myself", yet the interviewer didn't call him on the fact that this was a likely outcome to this scenario, a scenario he created by demanding a trade in a canned interview hours after the season ended. It's interesting that since Souray took his complaints public, the organization has been remade, and nearly everyone torched by the bomb that Souray dropped at the end of the season is gone... except for Steve Tambellini and Sheldon Souray.
If the Oilers were to send Souray to the AHL and recall him - thus exposing him to re-entry waivers - there would be a demand for him, especially at the discounted price of $2,700,000 for each of the next two seasons. If the Oilers were to take this option, the Collective Bargaining Agreement [PDF WARNING] stipulates that they would be on the hook for 50% of his cap hit over the life of the contract. The most famous example of this is Sean Avery, who was claimed by the Rangers after the Stars couldn't get rid of him. The Stars are still paying half of Avery's contract, to the tune of $1,937,500 in both of the next two seasons.
While $2,700,000 seems like an excessive amount of money to pay just to flush another Kevin Lowe mistake, if Souray doesn't want to be here, and the team doesn't want to expose the AHL players to this situation - and they most certainly don't - the most economical solution to the problem is in fact re-rentry. Buying him out would apply some portion of his cap hit over each of the next four seasons, so the simplest solution is to swallow hard like Dallas did with Avery, and let some team have him for half-off.
We looked at a few of the rumors surrounding Souray prior to the draft and found that one of his likely destinations was New Jersey, and that hasn't changed. In fact, should the Oilers expose Souray to re-entry, New Jersey would likely be the first team in line to claim him.
The Devils are currently stocked to the gills with defensive blueliners in Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder, Colin White, Bryce Salvador, Andy Greene, Anssi Salmela and have enough cap space that they would likely take a chance on Souray. I spoke with John Fischer, Managing Editor of In Lou We Trust, about the situation:
The Copper & Blue: Sheldon Souray cleared waivers. Does his imminent exit from Edmonton interest you?
John Fischer: Yes. Please ask Steve Tambellini to expose him to re-entry so the Devils can address their lack of offense on the blueline on the cheap.
C & B: Do the Devils have the cap space to make that work?
JF: They had $4,748,000 prior to signing Rod Pelley, but his terms haven't been reported. I'd expect the remaining space to be just over $4,000,000. Souray's re-entry hit is $2,700,000 - the Devils can make that work.
C & B: Who is running the power play in New Jersey as of right now?
JF: The "leaders" they have can only do it from down low (Patrik Elias on the side boards, Zach Parise down low), not from the point where action is dictated. The pointmen will be Greene, Langenbrunner, Rolston, and a fourth, at this point maybe Jason Arnott. So, yeah, Souray would fill a definite need here in New Jersey.
C & B: Is Souray's injury history a concern, even at the discounted $2,700,000?
JF: It would be a concern. Should he be a Devil, he would be filling an important need. His health is important and if there are doubts, then passing him up would be justified.