Steve Tambellini is a crazy person. Sheldon Souray is on re-entry waivers, and while that decision would make perfect sense if I just started following the Oilers today, it makes very little sense alongside the decisions Tambellini has made on Souray since September. It doesn't even make sense alongside statements that he's made in the last couple of weeks.
At the beginning of the season, Souray was placed on waivers and went unclaimed, at which point he was loaned to Hershey of the American Hockey League. Steve Tambellini elected not to place Souray on re-entry waivers at that time, which would have allowed another team to claim Souray and carry just half of his salary and cap hit, while sticking the Oilers with the other half. At the time, it was suggested that this was with the intention of playing Souray in the AHL for the entire season before trying to move him again in the following summer in an attempt to get something of value in return and thus reduce their overall loss to less than $4.5M and take no penalty against the salary cap. It was a risky financial gamble, but could have had real cap savings, and seemed to make some sense if the team was dead-set against keeping Souray in Edmonton. It seemed, then, that the issue could be tabled until the end of the season.
Earlier this month, Steve Tambellini said something to Jim Matheson that blew that narrative to pieces:
Until I get a call from a team saying they're interested in Sheldon, I won't be putting him on re-entry... If there's interest in Sheldon, I'm sure somebody's going to call.
Tyler Dellow explained why this made no sense immediately after Tambellini said it. Mostly, the Oilers would have lost nothing by at least trying it before the season started. If it succeeds, great, and if it fails, it's no loss. They had nothing to lose by trying, and nothing to gain by waiting for a team to express interest. In fact, the decision to wait costs money every day, $24,194 to be exact, which has grown to $3,314,516 so far this season (less any contributions from Hershey). By placing him on re-entry as soon as possible, the Oilers could have saved a substantial amount of money. Further, the Oilers force other teams to make a decision lest Souray get claimed by a competitor. If there was a willingness to put Sheldon Souray on re-entry waivers, surely it made sense to do so at the beginning of the season.
I believed this so fervently that in the comments to Tyler's post, I tried to look for a reason that Steve Tambellini might be lying. As it turns out, he was lying.. just not in the way that I had hoped. Here's what Tambellini had to say yesterday:
This is an opportunity for some team and for Sheldon. Everyone is asking for the same type of things out there and this was the right time.
Just in case it wasn't already clear in the above quote, Bob McKenzie made sure to let everyone know that, "a claim had not been pre-arranged". So it turns out that he was lying to Jim Matheson (alternate theories: he just plain changed his mind; he just read Tyler's article; he just now finished reading the section on re-entry waivers in the CBA; only now does he feel like Sheldon Souray has "done his time" for having the temerity to challenge management's decision-making). But that's not the punchline. By far the most hilarious part of this is that Souray is much less likely to get claimed today than he was two weeks ago at this time. The Lightning, Sharks, Bruins, Thrashers, Canadiens, and Ducks have all upgraded their defense corps in the last two weeks (Eric Brewer, Ian White, Tomas Kaberle, Mark Stuart, Paul Mara, and Francois Beauchemin), which means all of those teams are now less likely to claim Souray. How yesterday qualifies as "the right time" and the start of October or February don't, I just don't know.
Anyroad, according to the CBA, a player placed on waivers on a Saturday will remain there for 48 hours, which means word on whether or not Souray is claimed should come on Monday at 10:00 a.m. MST. If he doesn't get claimed, I can only pray that Doug Wilson says something like, "I would have loved to have claimed Sheldon, but after acquiring Ian White, we just don't have the cap space to make the move."