News today that Sheldon Souray is gone for the season. My views on Souray’s signing remain the same as the day it happened, so I’m not going to get into further detail here.
What I think we can say one season into the contract is that Sheldon Souray is not a good match for a Craig MacTavish team. Having Souray on a team that is challenged and without ideas on the powerplay means his one elite level skill is less valuable. We all saw the mighty power of the guy’s shot, but he was unable to gun it as often in Edmonton because the Oilers had few options aside from him. Unlike Montreal (who have their PP humming along again) who can utilize the point shot because there are other attractive options available should the opposition cheat, the Oilers powerplay is famous for 5 guys in the offensive zone not moving their feet having only one or two favorite options for the other team to defend.
Souray is not a “MacT type player.” I define said player as someone who in baseball terms can “pick it” even if you lose a little at the plate. If a MacT is going to err, it should be on defense. A list of kids the procurement department gave the coach since 2000 is a really good tell in this regard. Comrie=bad, Horcoff=good. Pisani=good, Schremp=bad. It’s simplistic and I’m not saying it’s entirely black and white but watching MacTavish quotes for a tell in this regard is a key to seeing who is going to do well with the coach. Here’s a guy who once said “We haven’t had that in a while, a player from Europe come in here and be as polished and complete and effective as he’s been” about undrafted Patrick Thoresen while turning his back on more than a few first rounders.
I believe at some point after the lockout, the Oilers decided they needed to abandon the quality 5×5 outscoring team that died on the powerplay and add some offense any way they could. Adding Pronger was part of that, Samsanov too. Last season it was a combination of players including Joffrey Lupul and this season one of the big pickups was Sheldon Souray.
I don’t think it works very well. Sheldon Souray isn’t as one dimensional as Joffrey Lupul but he is paid a lot for what he can do on the powerplay and he has not been a 5×5 monster recently. Should we then expect a better result from Souray next season?
Probably not. It’s a bad marriage. Sheldon Souray’s impact is as a flame thrower from the blueline on a fast-moving powerplay that has enough misdirection down low to make cheating for the blueline slapshot a nervous bet.
The Edmonton Oilers don’t play that game under Craig MacTavish. Never have, never will. Edmonton is the place where powerplays go to die.