Columbus, OH –
By Rick Gethin
Last summer, 29 teams took a pass on picking up Edmonton Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray off waivers. It seems they had good reason to do so, far beyond his salary of $4.5 million. He was labeled as “toxic” by the club and told not to report to training camp. The Oilers oraganization then loaned him to the Hershey Bears of the AHL instead of letting him poison the well in Oklahoma City.
The 34 year old has played a total of 26 games this season due to injury. He was placed on re-entry waivers Saturday in the hopes that a team might be enticed into picking him up at half price. Any team that picks him up would be responsible for $700,000 this season, $2.25 million next season and a cap hit of $2.7 million.
While a restless fanbase (stoked by the media) in Columbus wants GM Scott Howson to make a deal for Souray, this is not the one you want. The fact that he has a booming shot from the point is undisputed. But, he’s becoming more injury prone as time wears on. Most scouts are in agreement that he’s too slow for the AHL, let alone the NHL. The Blue Jackets would be better served looking elsewhere. Scott Howson has gone on record as saying that he’ll only make a deal to make the club stronger. Adding Souray does not meet that criteria.
With just over a week to go until the trade deadline, Howson is working the phones to strike a deal that makes sense. In the event that he’s unable to make a trade to strengthen the team, he has options within the organization. Defenseman Nick Holden is the first name that comes to mind over that of John Moore. He’s shown that he can play well within Scott Arniel’s system and would be able to slot in as a 7th defenseman. He’s scheduled to be an RFA this summer. Another name to keep in mind as a call-up is defenseman David Savard. He’s scheduled to be an RFA in 2013/14. Either of these players would do well on this club.
The point is this: you don’t want Sheldon Souray. He’s nothing more than a stop-gap that might or might not pan-out, depending on injuries.
Scott Howson has been accused of missing the boat when it comes to trades. Looking at his track record in Columbus, he’s made more positive strides than negative by being the GM that he is. He has a plan. Of that, I’m sure. What is that plan? He hasn’t taken me into his confidence, nor do I expect him to. But, I will say this… Scott Howson is a ninja. He won’t tip his hand to the media until it’s appropriate to do so. If a deal is out there to be made, and I’ve some rumblings about an Eastern Conference team that might be interested in dealing with Columbus, he will make that deal.
Yes, you want him to make a deal, any deal. And yes, you want the team to win NOW. But, humor me if you will, and take off your rose-colored shades. Take a step back and look with an unbiased eye at what he inherited and what he’s done with this club since taking the reigns. If you do that, I know that you’ll see that he’s moving this club forward to make them more than a one-and-done team. He’s striving for that mix in the room that will give them the best chance of contending long-term.
Remember kids, he has a plan. And, you can take that to the bank.