Word out of Edmonton last week suggested the Oilers nearly had a deal in place this past year that would’ve shipped defenseman Sheldon Souray to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for left winger Scott Hartnell, who according to the report had agreed to waive his no-movement clause to go to Edmonton.
Apparently Oilers GM Steve Tambellini backed out of the deal at the last minute, which seems a rather odd thing for him to do if he had an opportunity to move Souray and bring in a younger, more affordable player – and local boy, to boot – in Hartnell.
Yahoo Puck Daddy blogger Greg Wyshynski, however, cast doubt such a deal would’ve occurred. He spoke with a source close to Hartnell who claimed the winger never agreed to waive his no-trade clause and had never been approached to do so.
Whether or not this deal almost took place, the fact remains the Oilers are still having difficulty finding a trade partner to take Souray off their hands.
Canadian sports network TSN recently reported Souray could be demoted to the minors if he’s not traded before the season opens to avoid being a distraction to the rest of the team. At this point, a demotion appears more likely than a trade.
NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN’S DUI
Souray’s status isn’t the only potential problem facing the Oilers in the coming weeks.
Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin was recently convicted in Arizona on DUI and speeding charges and faces jail time in that state, casting doubt over his future with the Oilers.
The Edmonton Journal reported the possibility the club will seek to terminate his contract, though Tambellini made no mention of that other than issuing a statement saying he, Khabibulin and his agent would meet with league officials in the near future.
That’s likely to spark rumors of the Oilers pursuing UFA goalies like Antti Niemi or Jose Theodore, but given how they currently have youngsters Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk under one-way contracts – as well as the recent signing of veteran Martin Gerber – it doesn’t appear they’ll make a foray into the free agent market to replace Khabibulin.
MARC STAAL CONTRACT STALL
A report from early last week claimed talks between the New York Rangers and RFA defenseman Marc Staal were at an impasse, with the Staal camp hoping to receive an offer sheet from a rival club to land the deal they want, whether that means staying with the Rangers or not.
Agent Paul Krepelka, however, denied this rumor and stated he would continue to negotiate with the Rangers on a new contract.
It would’ve been a foolish tactic, anyway. Offer sheets are usually made in early or mid-July when teams have more available salary cap space, not in late August or September when most teams have already finalized payrolls for the upcoming season.
The Orange County Register noted the stalled contract talks for RFAs like Staal or Anaheim Ducks left winger Bobby Ryan were leading to Internet rumors the two clubs should swap players, thus resolving their roster issues.
Don’t hold your breath awaiting that deal. The Rangers and Ducks share a similar issue – blueline depth – so swapping Ryan for Staal won’t help the Blueshirts in that regard.
The respective management teams of both clubs repeatedly insisted they won’t trade either player and would match any offer sheets for them.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.