Oilers put captain on waivers

The Edmonton Oilers have placed forwards Ethan Moreau (left), Patrick O'Sullivan, and Robert...

The Edmonton Oilers have placed forwards Ethan Moreau (left), Patrick O'Sullivan, and Robert Nilsson on waivers. (EDMONTON SUN FILE PHOTOS)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

It's not the way anyone wanted to see it come to an end.

Not with all the years of service and everything he and his family have done for the community.

Not with all the injuries endured and the grit displayed for the better part of the 11 years Ethan Moreau wore an Oilers uniform.

Not under the radar with little fanfare or a proper send-off.

"It's simply the direction the organization is moving at this present time," Moreau told CTV Edmonton at Edmonton International Airport Tuesday before he left town on a vacation. "I'm still going to play for four or five years. I have nothing but positive things to say. I've really enjoyed my time here. My family, my kids have grown up here, so everything is positive."

After a frustrating season, a last place finish, and a restructured approach to the future, spearheaded with the first-overall draft pick, the Oilers have cut ties with Moreau, waiving the captain then buying out the final year of his contract.

Moreau was one of three players put on waivers and then bought out by the Oilers on Tuesday. They also let go of Robert Nilsson and Patrick O'Sullivan.

Nilsson, 25, the son of former Oiler Kent Nilsson, scored 11 goals and added 16 assists in 60 games for the Oilers last season. Acquired from the New York Islanders in the Ryan Smyth deal at the trade deadline in 2007, Nilsson has struggled with his consistency from the onset.

He has one year left on his contract that would pay him $2.5-million this season. It'll cost the Oilers $416,667 over the next two years to buy out the Swede, which would represent a savings of $83,000 on the cap this year and a $415,667 hit next season.

O'Sullivan, 25, was acquired in a three-way deal from the Los Angeles Kings for Erik Cole at the trade deadline in 2009. He had a disappointing 2009-2010 campaign, scoring 11 goals and adding 23 assists for 34 points in 73 games.

O'Sullivan has one year left on his salary that would pay him just under $2.4-million next season. It'll cost the Oilers $397,917 this year and next year to buy him out and would represent just under a $1-million cap hit this year.

Moreau, 34, had been with the Oilers since being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade midway through the 1998-99 season.

Given the nickname "Chopper" by Denis Savard due to his propensity for hacking at opponents, Moreau quickly become one of the cornerstones of the Oilers franchise.

He scored 17 goals in his first full year with the Oilers, then reached the 20-goal plateau for the only time in his career four years later.

A fundamental component of the Oilers' Stanley Cup run in 2006, Moreau was named captain a year later replacing the departed Jason Smith, despite having missed the majority of the previous season with a shoulder injury.

He ran into injury problems again during his first year at the helm, suffering an ankle injury, then breaking a bone in his leg twice in the same spot, which limited him to just 25 games.

Last season, the native of Huntsville, Ont., had nine goals and nine assists with the Oilers and was the subject of trade speculation once the post-season was clearly out of reach and the club decided to go with a youth movement.

Frustrated by the plight of his club, Moreau probably would have welcomed the change of scenery.

However, the Oilers were unable to move Moreau prior to the trade deadline and then evidently again at the NHL Entry Draft on the weekend.

Moreau represents a $2-million cap hit who had a year left on his contract at $1.75-million this season and has until noon Wednesday to be claimed by another club.

The buyout will cost the Oilers $583,333 for the next two seasons. Moreau would also represent a $833,333 cap hit this year and $583,333 next season.

"It's unfortunate the way the last couple of years have gone personally and for the team," he told CTV. "But it's a new start for me, and like I mentioned, I have a lot of good hockey left and I look forward to the opportunity to (become) a free agent. I haven't been a free agent my entire career and I've always re-signed here, so it should be an exciting week for us."


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