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

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.

  • Dan the Man

    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.

    • Steve Smith

      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).

      • Steve Smith

        Well, yes and no: for now, the Oilers would have first dibs on Finger through re-entry waivers, while the Leafs would have first dibs on Souray. Of course, that means instead of the $3.5 million cap hit for Finger, we’d be carrying a $1.75 million cap hit for him and a $2.75 cap hit for Souray.

  • Dan the Man

    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.

  • SurfacetoAirMissile

    What if I told the nation that it is a guarantee Souray will be with the Oilers next year and that he will score 25 goals and lead the Oilers to the 3rd round of the playoffs?

    Would anyone buy my signed Sheldon Souray framed picture and hockey card that I overbid on at a silent auction to outbid my wife’s ex-boss to show him up? …… only $400.00 for me to break even.

  • moosewacker

    How many times can you call a guy up and down ? Will Souray get called up anytime just to see if anyone takes a crack at him on recallable waivers ? And can you send him right back down ?

  • Steve Smith

    Great article Mr. Willis, very logical. The only problem is, any trade regarding Souray this year involves recall waivers and the chance of a loss. I say, call him back up when you know someone will claim him, and let them have him. Mitigate your losses, cut bait, move on. Get him out of the news, you won’t do better than that. Nobody is giving you any “assets” for him over the summer. Lets not kid ourselves.

    • Steve Smith

      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.

    • D-Man

      I don’t think that’s true.. Granted, Souray’s $5.4 million would scare alot of teams off, but we’d need to assume we’d be getting a bad contract back with maybe a 3rd/4th round draft pick. I say wait this year out and see what happens in the summer… We have the cap space and the luxury to wait. Souray’s also not going to be making any news in Hersey; unless we get hit with the injury bug during a 20 game losing streak (knock on wood that doesn’t happen)…

    • Costanza

      I completely disagree. If you leave him down and he plays well you are on the hook for $4.5M and will likely get a draft pick for him and you keep your cap room. If you lose him to waivers you are on the hook fro the same cash but you get nothing in return and lose $2.7M in cap space. Cap space is worth alot and I wouldn’t throw it away when you have essentially removed him from your organization anyways.

  • Ender

    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.

  • Steve Smith

    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.

  • Ender

    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.

  • I looked around for Bob Cob’s original comment and could not find it anywhere. Strange to be able to reply to something that doesn’t exist! I am a fan of JW’s writing and i’m sure he can survive Mr Cob’s comment without censorship…. I was actually going to give Cob a +1 props because I too feel the same way: As JW himself says, why in the hell would anyone even consider this trade? Seinfeld indeed.

    Edit: Sorry Robin this post isn’t meant to be directed at you.

  • ~S~K~, if that’s your REAL NAME, why don’t you go somewhere else. We don’t like the fact that you were mildly amused at a harmless post that is poking fun at a well established writer. Remove your smirk and then do whatever instructions are at the end of this post immediately not that there are any or as if it matters since you will not be able to read this censored post. People like me make me sick!