Finger for Souray: A Deal That Makes Sense For All Sides?

Jonathan Willis
October 12 2010 10:45PM

MONTREAL - JANUARY 25:  Sheldon Souray of the Edmonton Oilers arrives at the Versus 2009 NHL All-Star party at Club Opera on January 25, 2009 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

With the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent decision to waive Jeff Finger and assign him to the AHL’s Marlies, and Sheldon Souray’s continuing presence in the minors, it’s been suggested that the Leafs and the Oilers might be able to help each other out by swapping expensive defencemen.

But rather than being a deal that makes sense for both sides, this strikes me as a deal that makes sense for neither side. Leaving alone the complexities of smuggling the two players back into the NHL past re-entry waivers without either getting claimed, this isn’t a deal that makes sense from a hockey or financial standpoint.

Toronto doesn’t need Souray. Between Dion Phaneuf, Mike Komisarek, Tomas Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin, the Leafs have more than $19 million invested in their top four defencemen. Luke Schenn and Brett Lebda (once healthy) should round out the top six, and there’s plenty of depth after that. So while the Leafs might be eager to rid themselves of Finger’s contract, it doesn’t make much sense for them to add Sheldon Souray’s $5.4 million cap hit to their blue line.

The Oilers don’t need Finger. Finger’s a perfectly serviceable third-pairing (or preferably seventh) defenceman and has been for his entire career – both before and after Leafs’ G.M. Cliff Fletcher signed him to that ridiculous four year/$14.0 million contract. For all of Souray’s faults, when he’s playing well he at least approaches value for his contract; Jeff Finger never has and it seems implausible that he ever will.

It’s a trade that makes sense for neither side; the Leafs would be getting a player they don’t need and probably don’t want but one that’s close to being worth his contract, while the Oilers would be swapping a useful asset that they can’t use in exchange for a salary cap anchor – and all to save $1.0 million dollars, something they could have done by simply not qualifying Jeff Deslauriers.

I think the Leafs are stuck with Finger, and I suspect that the Oilers are stuck with Souray, and I’m not at all clear on how swapping problems makes sense for either side.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Big Dumb Oilers Fan
October 13 2010, 10:12AM
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Oh Finger FOR Souray, I thought it read Finger TO Souray. This article makes a lot more sense now.

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#2 Bash
October 12 2010, 11:09PM
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As much as I love this link, this is why Americans should not analyze hockey. http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/powerRankings

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#3 Eric Johnson
October 13 2010, 07:55AM
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but COME ON, the headlines would have been so awesome! "Toronto gives Edmonton Finger".

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#4 Chemmy
October 13 2010, 07:58AM
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"As much as I love this link, this is why Americans should not analyze hockey."

Yeah Americans don't know anything about hockey. If only they were as smart as knowledgeable hockey men Nick Kypreos, Dean Brown and Dave Fuller.

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#5 Ender
October 13 2010, 09:49AM
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Bob Cob wrote:

Yet another pointless submission, way to keep up to your standards Mr.Wills. The only bloggers on this site I trust for rumors regarding the Oilers and hockey are Gregor and Brownlee, people that are actually around the team day in day out.

Yet another pointless comment; way to keep up to your standards Bob Cob. The only Citizens on this site I avoid making fun of are . . . well, pretty much everybody but you; that is, the people that are actually making insightful comments about the team day in day out.

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#6 Ender
October 13 2010, 10:17AM
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@Chris.

If I were Katz, I'd get Tambi to do the deal and then have Renney put him in net . . .

. . . just so I could phone Renney back a few minutes into the first period and say . . .

. . . Tom, pull my Finger.

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#7 Steve Smith
October 13 2010, 10:52AM
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Bob Cob wrote:

Yet another pointless submission, way to keep up to your standards Mr.Wills. The only bloggers on this site I trust for rumors regarding the Oilers and hockey are Gregor and Brownlee, people that are actually around the team day in day out.

That would be a relevant reply if this post had been about a rumour ("the Oilers and Leafs are discussing a Souray for Finger trade") rather than a hypothetical ("would it make sense for the Oilers to trade Souray to the Leafs for Singer?"). The difference may have eluded you because, besides it being rather subtle, you are by all appearances not terribly bright.

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#8 Librarian Mike
October 13 2010, 10:54AM
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That's the way it goes; sometimes you get Finger, sometimes you get Toews.

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#9 Racki
October 12 2010, 11:12PM
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I give this trade suggestion the Finger.

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#10 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
October 13 2010, 03:49AM
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@NateInVegas wrote:

Brian Rafalski's out 3-4 weeks maybe there's a fit in Detroit?

rolls eyes....

You forgot to add an asterisk to your action. This is done in order to piss off the guy who hates asterisks.

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#12 Jokester
October 13 2010, 08:48AM
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Hey Willis, wow what an interesting article this was. Next can you put something together 200-300 words on how you can't see Pittsburgh trading Crosby anytime soon. Talk about an article about nothing, did you used to write for Seinfeld?

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#13 Chris.
October 13 2010, 09:24AM
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I like it when Finger bangs it around the boards... Or when Finger goes in deep...

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#14 PabstBR55
October 13 2010, 10:46AM
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The anatomy of a lineup:

ARMSTRONG HANDZUS LEGWAND

FINGER FOOTE

Almost as good as when we had Doug Weight and Cam Hajt.

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#15 Robin Brownlee
October 13 2010, 10:53AM
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Bob Cob wrote:

Yet another pointless submission, way to keep up to your standards Mr.Wills. The only bloggers on this site I trust for rumors regarding the Oilers and hockey are Gregor and Brownlee, people that are actually around the team day in day out.

If any particular item doesn't interest you, move along to the next one. There's no need to criticize writers here on that basis. We're trying to provide a variety of content.

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#16 esa tikkanen
October 13 2010, 12:01PM
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willis and others who don't like this trade idea:

I totally disagree with you. This is how it makes sense: Souray is a very good player when he is healthy, good enough to be in the Leafs' top4 if not top pairing of dmen. The reason he is not playing in Edmonton is because of his poor relationship with mgmt not his ability to play hockey. IF he is healthy he would significantly help their power play, taking some pressure off of Kessel and Phaneuf. Who would the other team's forwards cheat towards if both Phaneuf and Souray are bombing 110mph shots from the point on the pp?

Finger is good enough to play in the bottom pairing for the Oilers. The Oilers are already paying Souray $5 million, so they get a player making slightly less who can at least play on the big club and provide depth where there is very little.

The Leafs get an actual good player and win the trade. The Oilers get an actual NHL player, though a mediocre, overpriced one, who can play bottom pair for them but that is better than a player rotting in the minors who won't see the light of day here.

The Oilers are nowhere near the cap and don't really need to bury the player in the minors, they are doing it over personality issues. The Leafs are near the cap but could handle it or send one other small contract the Oilers' way to get Souray out of the organization and end the soap opera, which will have a positive effect on the franchise.

To me this is a win win.

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#17 Steve Smith
October 13 2010, 12:13PM
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@esa tikkanen

Well, my fellow glory-days Oiler, I guess it comes down to whether Finger's an upgrade on our #6 defenseman, not just now, but for the remaining life of his contract; I don't see that he is, unless our defense next year looks exactly the same as our defense this year minus Vandermeer, which I'm insufficiently pessimistic to accept at this point. Obviously we *could* accomodate Finger's cap hit, but what's our incentive to do so (unless it's to get Souray's real dollars off the books, but that doesn't seem to be a priority for Batman).

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#18 Steve Smith
October 13 2010, 02:00PM
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@Team Hall

Well, depends which losses you're talking about mitigating. You're right that it would mitigate the financial losses, but it would exacerbate the cap losses, since those would go from zero to $2.75 million.

Keeping him in the AHL all year only hurts Souray and Katz; as long as Katz is fine with it, I see no reason fans would complain.

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#19 CoryNewb
October 13 2010, 02:44PM
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@Dan the Man

SurfacetoAirMissile I'll give you 2 large! Silent auctions are for people who want to pay too much!

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#20 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
October 12 2010, 10:49PM
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Well I guess that's that then.

Fist.

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#21 Deep Oil
October 12 2010, 10:55PM
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JW, explain this to me...... both player assets are in the minors, trading them might be fine in a world where recallable waivers does not apply..... so the deal of the disatisfied best dressed player for the bob barker contract is initiated..... you still have to go through the formal process of bringing them up, and risk having the partial salary and cap hit on your tab for the next future..... .if another team makes a play...

Are you suggesting to trade and then bring them back this summer, when bottom feeding at 50% off is not in play.......

Both organizations are in a position of weakness internally and externally here.

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#22 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
October 12 2010, 11:05PM
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Toward the end of the season last year, they could actually have done this without all the pains in the a$$. First dibs on each player would have went to either TO or Edm. That would mean they basically swapped players but ended up getting them for half the cap hit. Weird. Can this happen?

If the bottom 2 teams want cap relief it seems to me they could manufacture it, if they worked together.

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#23 Dan the Man
October 12 2010, 11:07PM
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Deep Oil wrote:

JW, explain this to me...... both player assets are in the minors, trading them might be fine in a world where recallable waivers does not apply..... so the deal of the disatisfied best dressed player for the bob barker contract is initiated..... you still have to go through the formal process of bringing them up, and risk having the partial salary and cap hit on your tab for the next future..... .if another team makes a play...

Are you suggesting to trade and then bring them back this summer, when bottom feeding at 50% off is not in play.......

Both organizations are in a position of weakness internally and externally here.

The order in which teams select players off the waiver wire is the reverse order of the standings from last year.

Oilers get 1st pick off the waiver wire and the Leafs get 2nd until some time in November.

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#24 Deep Oil
October 12 2010, 11:11PM
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Max Powers - Team HME Evans wrote:

Toward the end of the season last year, they could actually have done this without all the pains in the a$$. First dibs on each player would have went to either TO or Edm. That would mean they basically swapped players but ended up getting them for half the cap hit. Weird. Can this happen?

If the bottom 2 teams want cap relief it seems to me they could manufacture it, if they worked together.

Half plus the other half = 100% of the salaries combined, i think you misinfomed, much like Glenn Hall suggesting that the Blackhawk players should give up some of their salary to keep the team together (really - not joking - see QMI story via edmonton sun).... cap hits do not evaporate unless the player stays in the minors.... swapping players transfers cap hits even via waiver reclaim.... do you wish to defend your cap math that is off base.

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#25 Deep Oil
October 12 2010, 11:16PM
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@ Dan The Man Eat the 4.5 million this year, get better value in return with one year left on big sexy's contract during the summer..... financial pain for future asset instead of middle finger.

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#26 wax for my stick
October 12 2010, 11:21PM
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Lol i should have waited 1/2 hr to make my comment about souray for finger for this article... well just for laughs i'll post it again

"i would trade souray for a bag of pucks before i would take a guy like finger, whom no one ever heard of before he signed that god awful contract with toronto, and where is he now? on waivers cause hes not good enough to be in there top 7 defence. my guess is if hes not good enough to play there, he won't even come close to being good enough to play here, not to mention the fact, we have way better defensive prospects than him. i'll burn my season tickets if that "club footed" joke of a hockey player ever wears the copper and blue and skates on rexall's ice"

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#27 Bank Shot
October 12 2010, 11:24PM
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@Max Powers - Team HME Evans

The team that waived the player that ends up on reentry waivers pays the cap hit so you wouldn't save anything.

Edmonton would have half of Souray's salary and half of Finger's on their payroll. In that scenario, they'd actually be paying more then Finger's salary to acquire him.

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#29 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
October 12 2010, 11:35PM
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@Bank Shot

Right right. Brainfart. I thought I stumbled onto the only leak in the CBA there. Thought I just singlehandedly found a way around the CBA dozens or even hundreds of lawyers spent so much time putting together.

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#30 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
October 12 2010, 11:37PM
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@Deep Oil

No, I don't wish to defend my cap math because it's out to lunch, but thanks for the offer. You could bet that if I just figured something out that actually made sense I would defend it to the death though... So watch out.

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#31 Roadhouse
October 12 2010, 11:54PM
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At least Souray will be available for future competitions of "Battle of the Blades."

http://www.cbc.ca/battle/

Nice effort Georgie!! Stick with Green Party Politics...I guess

GO KELLY GO!!

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#32 striker
October 13 2010, 01:44AM
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At least Finger could have played on our farm team and be a solid AHLer.

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#33 @NateInVegas
October 13 2010, 02:11AM
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Brian Rafalski's out 3-4 weeks maybe there's a fit in Detroit?

rolls eyes....

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#34 pelhem grenville
October 13 2010, 05:08AM
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Wutchu talkin''bout [here] Willis...!? is that the millionth time someone's used that line?

Souray got what he wanted (outta here) yes? Along with ST's special brand of payback for his crimes against the club...a high price to pay as one put it but so nicely put...right up the Hershey highway... now he's a bear.period.til a year falls off his deal then he's tradeable we think.

finger fades away into AHL obscurity with $7mil left on his juicy one way contract for 2 more years and all stays well (sorta) in Oilerville.

***off topic, can anyone see any TV coverage for the Oil-Flame game next Tuesday in cowville? will we all be huddled 'round the radio listening to the Jack & Bob Show for that tilt?

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#35 pelhem grenville
October 13 2010, 05:36AM
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Jdubya...just an after thought after looking closer at the leaf roster on capgeek...sheldon spends a year in Hershey...one year left on his contract, becomes tradeable,let's say we get the bag of pucks we want for him in a trade.

...do we look at Tomas Kaberle?, who's 2 years younger than souray becoming a UFA. Is there a deal to be made for him at a lot less than the 4point2 he's getting now? Like Half ?

...do we like Kaberle in Oilerville?

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#36 Pension Plan Puppets
October 13 2010, 05:50AM
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@Bash

Why not let Americans analyze hockey? We let Sun Media. Can't get any worse than those guys.

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#38 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
October 13 2010, 08:30AM
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From above by Bash

As much as I love this link, this is why Americans should not analyze hockey. http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/powerRankings

This is mind blowing Oilers ranked # 1 and Pittsburgh at #27 if it was April 1 I would understand they even have the Caps below the Flames. This is so funny!!!

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#39 MattL
October 13 2010, 08:37AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Deep Oil:

I'm pretty sure I'm saying it's a deal that makes no sense whatsoever, for either team.

And I'm pretty sure he didn't read your article past the headline.

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#40 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 13 2010, 08:37AM
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This would've been a better article if done before both guys were/are their way to the minors. There is zero chance that either club even entertains a conversation around these two now.

The off-season on the other hand is another story, although I suspect Souray has better value next year for us.

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#41 Librarian Mike
October 13 2010, 10:24AM
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So, in an earlier post there was talk about players having theme songs. Here's one for Jeff Finger:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLS_HARAYZQ

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#42 Chris.
October 13 2010, 10:41AM
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@Ender

Hard nosed play by finger.

Finger caught on another bad pinch.

Taken roughly from behind by Finger...

I bet Jack Michaels would make that trade in a heartbeat... It's just too much fun.

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#43 PabstBR55
October 13 2010, 10:48AM
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Chris. wrote:

I like it when Finger bangs it around the boards... Or when Finger goes in deep...

Yes, this is why it's worth it to read the comments section. Excellent work, Chris. Excellent work.

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#44 I'm a Scientist!
October 13 2010, 11:07AM
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I want to MacIntyre to fight him so he can give a Finger licking good.

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#45 Chris.
October 13 2010, 11:44AM
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@PabstBR55

Finger is deep in the slot?

Finger penetrates the offensive zone..?..

Too much? Wouldn't it be better if Finger played center? Then maybe someone would say:

"Finger has been terrific around the dot all night long."

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#46 Wanye
October 13 2010, 11:44AM
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Bash wrote:

As much as I love this link, this is why Americans should not analyze hockey. http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/powerRankings

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

FIRST PLACE!

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#47 Steve Smith
October 13 2010, 11:56AM
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Bash wrote:

As much as I love this link, this is why Americans should not analyze hockey. http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/powerRankings

Those rankings are based on a formula based exclusively on the previous week's performance, I believe. That the Oilers are ranked first has nothing to do with the nationality of the people devising or running the formula.

Put another way, the NHL has the Oilers tied for first in the league; is that further proof that Americans shouldn't analyze hockey?

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#48 Chris.
October 13 2010, 12:09PM
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Finger pokes one on the rebound?

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#49 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 13 2010, 12:23PM
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@esa tikkanen

Re-entry waivers screws the whole trade up.

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#50 Dan the Man
October 13 2010, 12:26PM
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If the Oilers did this deal with the Leafs via recallable waivers they would only save $500 000 in real dollars.

Half of Souray's 4.5 mil = 2.25 mil

Half of Finger's 3.5 mil - 1.75 mil

I say we keep Souray in Hershey for the year and deal him over the summer.

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