Buyout candidate: Sheldon Souray

Buyout season is just around the corner, so that means every underwhelming/overpaid player with a year or two left on his contract will be subject to much speculation over their short-term future with their respective teams. New York Rangers forward Chris Drury was the first name to pop up as a realistic bet to have the final year of his contract bought out. As Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal surmises, the Edmonton Oilers could very well be in line to buy out the final year of Sheldon Souray’s 5-year $27 million contract.

Although cap space is of little concern to the Oilers, a buyout would cost $1.5 million and would save the club $3 million next season while $2.4 million of Souray’s contract would still count against the cap. Buying out Souray’s contract would simply be an exercise in making someone go away, given that the Oilers could just continue to let him rot in the minors. One thing is for certain, buyout or no buyout, Souray won’t be sporting an Edmonton Oilers sweater next season.

Souray’s relationship with Oilers’ management soured last spring when he openly criticized the organization, claiming that GM Steve Tambellini had ultimately severed communication lines with him. It was a bit of a he said, he said situation, but it was effectively the end of Souray’s days in an Oilers uniform. With an annual cap hit of $5.4 million and Oilers management against him, Souray was asked to stay away from the 2010-11 training camp and banished to the AHL where he was loaned to the Hershey Bears. The Oilers held out hope that a suitor for Souray’s services could be found while the three-time All-Star toiled in the minor leagues.

Of course, any chance of Souray being traded dried up when he broke his hand in a fight with Matt Clackson in the AHL. Souray would play 40 games with Hershey, putting up modest statistical totals of 4-goals and 15-assists, and failed to draw any significant interest from NHL clubs. The Rangers were reportedly interested in Souray, but scouts were left unimpressed with what they had seen from the 34-year old.

The period for buying out contracts begins on Wednesday, and we’re betting that Tambellini will probably usher Souray out of the organization sooner than later if that is his intention.

Salary cap data via CapGeek