by PuckStopsHere on 11/03/11 at 02:02 PM ET
A big comeback story, which is as big as any in the league this season, is that of Sheldon Souray of the Dallas Stars. After being exiled to the AHL last season and bought out by the Edmonton Oilers, he is back in the NHL. He has been a significant contributor to the Stars with 8 points in 11 games and a +8 +/- rating from defence. He leads his team in +/- and is the highest scorer on the Dallas defence with twice as many points as any other defenceman on the team. His strong play is one of the reasons Dallas leads the Pacific Division.
Souray is an example of Edmonton Oiler mismanagement. When the Oilers wanted to make a free agent splash in 2007 they signed Souray to a 5 year contract with a $5.4 million salary cap hit. Souray was an Edmonton Oiler for three years. Two of them were injury plagued and the third was good enough to put him into the All Star Game. Souray was painted as a locker room cancer and the Oilers decided he needed to be moved by the end of his third season - an injury plagued one.
After spending the summer of 2010 trying to trade him unsuccessfully, the Oilers decided to send Souray to the minors. Souray cleared waivers because no team was willing or able to take on his large salary cap hit and Souray spent an injury plagued year exiled to the minors playing with the Hershey Bears. The Oilers finally bought him out in the summer of 2011 after writing him off for a season at full cost.
The Oilers took a valuable but injury-plagued player and turned him into a player of such negative value that they had to pay him to go away. Immediately upon paying him to go away, he has been a valuable player to another team.
Souray will likely be a key player for the Stars as long as he remains healthy. Dallas is only paying Souray $1.65 million, which is a cut-rate price compared to what the Oilers paid.
Souray is proof that potentially valuable NHL level players get exiled to the minors as a result of the CBA despite the fact they would be helpful to their team in the NHL. This loss of NHL talent weakens the talent pool that fans can watch. Some might argue that it isn’t a huge loss given the 700 or so players in the NHL, but it is totally unnecessary. The NHL should be actively trying to get the best players in the world. When it actively tries to exile some of those players instead, something is wrong.
Sheldon Souray is clearly a good NHL player when he is healthy. There is reason to wonder if he can remain healthy this season. If he does, he will be a valuable contributor to the Dallas Stars. The way the Edmonton Oilers paid big money to bring him in, exiled him out of the league when he clearly could have helped their team and then paid him to go away is embarrassing to them. Moves like that help explain how the Oilers finished last in the league for the last two years. Dallas is the beneficiary of the Oilers mismanagement in this case.
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