Sheldon Souray, alternate captain for the Edmonton Oilers.
The New York Rangers need to acquire two things at the trade deadline this coming Wednesday; a physical, crease clearing defenseman, and some offense. A healthy Sheldon Souray would accomplish both. The oft-injured 33 year old has one of the hardest shots in the entire league and plays with a mean streak. It was actually during a fight that Souray received the injury he is on the IR for right now.
I, myself, have been calling for Souray's acquisition since 2008, a year after he signed in Edmonton. His first choice during the 2007 off-season was to sign with the Rangers, but he entered the game too late, after they had already signed Scott Gomez and Chris Drury; there was no money left. Souray waited a week, hoping the Rangers could free up enough cap space to sign him, but it never happened and he landed in Edmonton. His first season there was less than memorable when he only played 26 games due to injury while recording 3 goals and 7 assists for 10 points. It appeared that it was the right move after all not to sign him.
Then came last season, and the Souray we all know and love was back. He scored 23 goals (12 on the powerplay) to go along with 30 points and 98 penalty minutes. The stat that was the most telling, however, was his plus/minus. Souray had become infamous in Montreal for scoring 26 goals and ending up a -28 on the season. But last year, he was a +1 on a not so very good Oilers team.
But now it appears Souray is in the midst of one of those injury plagued seasons. He has only appeared in 37 games thus far, and has 4 goals and 9 assists to show for it. I know for a fact that Glen Sather is talking to the Oilers right now, wanting to acquire him. But do they really want to gamble on another high risk, high reward player?
The first question you must ask yourself is, what does trading for him accomplish? Well, we all know he has a knack for scoring powerplay goals and recorded one of the hardest slapshots on record during a team skills competition in Edmonton last season. The Rangers powerplay, after starting out the season on fire, has now slipped to the middle of the pack. What was going to be their "powerplay savior" has since been shipped off to Calgary after a mediocre showing. If the Rangers want to go anywhere, they will need their special teams to click once more. A point paring of Del Zotto for passing and Souray for the shot could be a lethal combination.
When it comes to overall team toughness, the Rangers have to be near the bottom of the league. Time and time again we see players get pushed around and hit and no one sticks up for them. We also see Henrik Lundqvist get repeatedly bumped into, and the defensive corps, which I like to call the "Broadway Ballerina Troupe", stands around and watches. Souray is one mean, nasty, S.O.B and will not stand for any of that. He fights and hits, and when healthy, can be a player to instill fear into opponents when they get in the crease area.
Getting back to what I said earlier, I wanted Souray the day he hit free agency and I want him still. Last July I even created this fan page for him titled, Get Sheldon, which I hoped would have started a movement to acquire the defenseman. Getting him would help this team down the stretch, but at what price would we be willing to pay?
The Rangers would need to trade Michal Rozsival or Wade Redden in order for it to work. Whether it is a straight up deal, a waiver burying, or a three-team trade, one of those salaries needs to come off the books. Edmonton is looking to shed salary and will probably have half their team traded by Wednesday, so taking back a large salary is probably not a realistic scenario, unless there is some youth involved. The rumors of a trade of Brandon Dubinsky for Andrew Cogliano are false, but when included as part of a package, then it could happen.
Glen Sather would need to work his trade magic with Edmonton. Tom Renney loved Michal Rozsival in New York and was the only reason he was re-signed after Jaromir Jagr left town. A trade would need to look something like Rozsival, Dubinsky, and Girardi for Souray and Cogliano.
Girardi has been brutal this season and when looking at the various Ranger blogs out there, I think it would be safe to say that Girardi would win a voting on, "Which Ranger is most likely to be traded?" As for Cogliano, he has struggled mightily this season but is one of the fastest skaters in the game. Could putting him with Gaborik set off a spark?
If that exact trade were to happen, I think the Rangers would be the overall winners, but Edmonton makes out well too. Souray is owed $9 million over the next two seasons ($5.4 million cap hit) while Rozsival is owed only $7 million ($5 million cap hit). Cogliano, meanwhile, is an RFA and mill only get a raise to about $1.5 million.
This leaves the Rangers a defenseman short, but with Potter, Sanguinetti, and Heikkinen in the mix, I think the Rangers would take that gamble. After all, none of those three could play any worse than Girardi has this season. The Rangers have also just recalled Corey Potter this morning, which means they could be working on a trade that will result in the loss of a defenseman.
A trade for Sheldon Souray is not simple, it comes with a lot of baggage. There are a lot of positives and negatives going both ways, but in the long run, I think it would be a good move provided they don't give up too much. My message to Glen Sather will be the same as it was a year ago; "Get Sheldon."