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Tencer: Waiving Goodbye

Dan Tencer takes a closer look at the Oilers roster moves as the regular season nears

Friday, 01.10.2010 / 12:38 PM / Blogs
By Dan Tencer
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Tencer: Waiving Goodbye
Taylor Chorney had a strong outing the other night vs. Phoenix, but it wasn't enough to secure him a spot on the opening night roster.
Yesterday, the Oilers continued their preparation for the start of the 2010-2011 regular season by assigning four players (Taylor Chorney, Jeff Petry, Alex Plante & Colin McDonald) to Oklahoma City of the AHL and by placing two veteran players on waivers.

The assignments involving the younger players were expected and unsurprising, though all four had strong training camps and raised their stock within the organization. The moves involving the two more experienced assets are a bit more complex, so I invited Oilers GM Steve Tambellini to be a guest on my radio show last night to have him provide some insight.

"WE HAVE NO REAL CHOICE"

Four goaltenders left in training camp became three goaltenders left in training camp yesterday when the team put Martin Gerber on waivers for the purposes of assigning him to their AHL team in Oklahoma City. This morning, Gerber cleared and was assigned to be the backstop of a farm team that struggled greatly last season, with poor goaltending on the top of the list of reasons why.

When I talked to Gerber yesterday, he was obviously disappointed with the result of his training camp, but felt he performed about as well as he had expected. "I tried to put everything out there that I had,” Gerber said. “There are always things you can improve but, overall, I think I can be glad with how I did."

The move, in the end, was made almost regardless of performance. Gerber was signed with an eye on improving the depth of goaltending in the franchise and not intended to unseat both of Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk. He wasn’t blind to the situation coming in; he knew the realities.

"Oh, definitely,” Gerber admitted. “If you go to a team with three goalies on one-way contracts it's definitely a big battle. It was definitely worth it and I enjoyed every minute being here."

"I really wanted to be a part of this group because it's a really exciting group. It's going to be a lot of fun in this room and as a player you want to be a part of something like this."

And, perhaps, Gerber will have a chance at some point to see NHL action this year. Though he had to clear waivers to be assigned to Oklahoma City, he will not be subject to waivers if he is called back up. Oilers GM Steve Tambellini broke down the decision last night.

"We have no real choice,” Tambellini started. “Martin has come in, he's a professional guy, he played very well, but he only played 30 games last year in the KHL plus some time at the World Championships. He needs to get back into the pro mode of playing many games in a week and many games in a month. That's not saying that he can't get games during the NHL regular season, because I believe he can from a talent standpoint."

I wrote last week about the need for the Oilers to choose between Devan Dubnyk, Jeff Deslauriers and Martin Gerber as far as who will backup Nikolai Khabibulin this year. Gerber is now out of the mix but, according to Steve Tambellini, the other two might be sharing the duty for at least part of the regular season.

"I don't want to (carry three goalies), but there may be a situation where we do have to for a little bit of time," Tambellini told me. Deslauriers and Dubnyk both need to clear waivers to be assigned to the AHL and the possibility exists that Tambellini would rather trade one of them than risk losing them for nothing on the waiver wire.

"THE PLAYER HAS TO PLAY"

After not inviting him to training camp, the Oilers are still looking for a solution to the Sheldon Souray situation.
Sheldon Souray won't be playing in Edmonton this year, but he won't be waiting for his assignment too much longer. Ideally, the Oilers would still very much like to trade the defenceman before the regular season starts in less than a week. But, in preparation for the event that a deal does not get done, Souray has been placed through waivers once again.

For the second time since the end of last season, 29 other teams passed on Souray when having the option to pick him up for nothing more than the cost of his contract. That means the Oilers are now free to assign Souray, whose No Movement Clause expired on June 30th, to a minor league team.

There has been speculation about whether or not Steve Tambellini would have Souray sit on the sidelines, but he made it very clear to me last night that Souray will be on a team somewhere soon enough.

"I think the player has to play, there's no question about that," Tambellini said. "You could have him take a roster spot and not play him, but that's not what we want to do. We want to see if we can make a trade happen, something that can help the Oilers. We aren't going to do something that doesn't help us either financially or in a player acquisition way. If not, then we'll have to assign him into the minors."

When pressed on whether "the minors" meant the Oilers own AHL team in Oklahoma City, or perhaps a loan to a franchise run by another team, Tambellini was mum. It's within reasonable logic to suggest that if the Oilers don't want him around their team at the NHL level, they would hesitate to put him in their AHL environment, where a similar change of culture and system is occurring.

Author: Dan Tencer

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