The Edmonton Oilers have put Sheldon Souray on waivers, but that doesn't mean they have firm plans in place at this time on how to handle the veteran defenceman they don't want. All their options remain open.
In a perfect world, they would be able to trade Souray for an asset, but with two years left on his deal with an annual cap hit of $5.4 million, that doesn't seem likely. At least not just yet.
Today's waiver move is simply an acknowledgement that he isn't playing in Edmonton this season and to allow for other possibilities.He has not been assigned anywhere at this point and there is apparently specified course of action at this point.
Here's what could happen:
-Souray could be claimed on waivers. No one actually believes that will happen, though.
-Assuming he clears waivers - a very good bet - Souray could be assigned to the AHL. Edmonton has a farm team in Oklahoma City. If the Oilers didn't want Souray around the organization in Edmonton, I would be surprised if they want him around the organization in Oke City, but that's still a possibility. So is loaning him to another club in the AHL, the way the Washington Capitals just loaned Michael Nylander to Rochester (Florida's farm team) in the AHL.
-Assuming he clears waivers, Souray could be put on re-entry waivers. That would allow any team claiming him to get the remainder of his contract at half price, both in tems of dollars paid out and the salary cap hit. Edmonton would be responsible for paying the other half and taking the cap hit on the 50 per cent figure. I have always assumed this wasn't something the Oilers wanted to do because I didn't think they would want to use up $2.7 million in cap space this year and next for a player not in the orgnization. But the more I think about it, given the Oilers have more cap room this year than last year, this is certainly a possibility.
Saving $2.25 million in real dollars this season and the same amount again next year - Souray is actually being paid $4.5 million this year and next even though the cap hit is $5.4 million - may be more of a priority for Edmonton than protecting the annual cap space of $2.7M. In any case, Souray on re-entry waivers may be more attractive to other clubs, but that is not necessarily a guarantee. Some of the teams that may be potentially interested in Souray, even at half price, have to shed another contract and dumping one to Edmonton would no longer be an option. But Souray at half price unquestionably has a better chance of being claimed.
-Finally, there's the trade option. That is still what Edmonton would prefer. They would lose Souray's salary, lose the entire cap hit and even if they take a contract back, they might end up with an asset. But either way, the whole Souray situation would be behind them. The Oilers are hopeful that as teams finalize their starting rosters, some clubs may feel the need to add a veteran defenceman, although the best hope for Edmonton is still for some teams to have to deal with injury issues on the blueline. That's when Souray will become a lot more marketable and a more attractive option.
Any of the above remain possibilities.