Oilers have kept their promise of roster makeover

Because Sheldon Souray cleared waivers Saturday and still tops the Edmonton Oilers’ to-do list, there is more dirty work ahead.

But some significant and admirable housecleaning has already spruced up the 30th-place roster. So, while the Oilers are determined to distance themselves from Souray and his $5.4-million US salary-cap hit, season-ending trade demand, rehabbing wrist injury and bridge-burning condemnation of management, there is reason for general manager Steve Tambellini to feel like a man who accomplished more in 10 days than some National Hockey League franchise-builders can claim in a year.

“You have to wonder, can you change that much in a short time? We did,” said Tambellini.

There is more to come. The Oilers may well sign No. 1 pick Taylor Hall while the kid is still twirling around the ice in Edmonton with the rest of the franchise’s brightest young prospects in the coming days.

“I’d rather get it done sooner than later,” Tambellini said Saturday afternoon.

There is really no sense waiting for training camp, since Hall’s contract should basically mirror that of John Tavares, the first pick in 2009 by the New York Islanders whose cap hit for the coming season is $3.75 million. As per the collective bargaining agreement, Hall will receive $900,000 in entry level salary and signing bonus for three years and will have a handful of easily achieved performance bonuses worth millions more written into the deal. It’s expensive, but wholly uncomplicated.

If the two sides can pull it together quickly — Tavares was signed in mid-July of 2009 — the news conference would rank as more good news for a team that has followed through on promises to change itself in dramatic fashion. And not a bad way to introduce the kid to Oiler fans.

“I think everything we needed to do from a staffing standpoint and the players that we needed to change, I feel good about all of that,” said Tambellini, who has shed bad contracts, players and leaders and, in so doing, has given the next generation of Oilers both the figurative chance and the literal room to grow.

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