The Edmonton Oilers placed two players on waivers today, goalie Martin Gerber and defenseman Sheldon Souray. Both players have until noon Friday to clear waivers, and 29 other teams have until then to make a claim. But it will be a surprise if either are picked up. Gerber was expected to play in the AHL this season, signed as a back-up plan if any of the other three goalies (Nikolai Khabibulin, Devan Dubnyk and Jeff Deslauriers) go down with injury. But as for Souray, the Oilers are hoping someone makes a claim for the disgruntled blueliner. He was banned from Oiler training camp because of his trade demands and negative public comments regarding management he made last season. GM Steve Tambellini has been trying to trade Souray, but his cap hit ($5.4 mil for the next two years), his recent injury history and age have all been deterrents for other teams. Assuming Souray clears waivers tomorrow, he could be sent to down to Edmonton’s AHL affiliate, but the Oilers really would rather not have him in the organization. The most logical option would be to put him through re-entry waivers. In that case, if another team claims him, they would only be on the books for half of his salary with Edmonton paying the rest. Despite everything thats gone on over the past few months, Souray is still a good player, with a booming shot from the point and leadership in the dressing room. Columbus was rumored to be in the running, but nothing materialized. The New York Islanders looked like a good trade partner because of the season ending injury to their powerplay quarterback Mark Streit, but it has yet to happen.
Although the Souray saga continues to be a distraction off the ice, on the ice, things couldn’t be better. The Oilers beat the Phoenix Coyotes last night 4-3 in a shoot-out, keeping them undefeated so far in the preseason. The young prospects have looked really good in NHL action so far, and the team as a whole seems to have a renewed energy and jump in their game. Can this translate over into regular season action? Honestly, who can know. But they are fun to watch.
Phoenix staked themselves to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Lee Stempniak and promising rookie Kyle Turris. The Oilers managed to come back, and took the lead off goals from Sam Gagner on the powerplay, Alex Giroux and Colin McDonald. But very late in the third period, Scottie Upshall provided Phoenix with the tying goal, sending the game into overtime. The extra frame solved nothing, so the game was off to a shoot-out. Edmonton goalie Martin Gerber, who replaced Jeff Deslauriers halfway through the game, shut the door on both Coyotes shooters. Dustin Penner gave the Oil the lead by connecting on his attempt, and after Gerber saved Mikkal Boedker, Ales Hemsky sealed the victory for Edmonton with a nifty shot beating Phoenix starter Ilya Byrzgalov. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle didn’t play. Magnus Paajarvi had no points and 2 shots on the night.