When Danny Syvret was loaned to the Hershey Bears (AHL affiliate for Washington) for the final third of last season, the writing was on the wall. The defensive depth within the organization combined with Syvret's inability to perform consistently meant that all signs pointed to an off-season deal. It happened today as the Oilers shipped Danny to Philadelphia in exchange for dynamic forward Ryan Potulny.
"It was time for Danny to move on; he just wasn't fitting into the plans here with us," says Oilers Vice President of Hockey Operations Kevin Prendergast.
Near the end of last season Syvret and his agent requested a trade, Prendergast told me this afternoon.
That being said, the Oilers weren't prepared to let him go for nothing. "We had a lot invested in him and we weren't prepared to walk away from him," says Prendergast. "Danny's a pretty good player but he just didn't fit into our organization." Aside from Philadelphia, I can confirm that there were at least 2 other teams who contacted the Oilers to express interest in Syvret. Prendergast says Philadelphia put the best deal on the table, though.
"When Potulny's name got on the table we certainly jumped at it. We think he's a player who will probably be one of our best player's in Springfield with a good possibility of being a call-up player over the course of the year."
Potulny obviously has some tremendous offensive upside having garnered 47 points in 58 games with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL last year. "He's a leader and he's certainly proven that he's a winner. He was the captain at the University of Minnesota and was 1st team All American. He's also a former Hobey Baker finalist."
For Potulny's part, he's a bit shocked by the happening. "Yeah, I'm a little surprised," Potulny admitted. "Philadelphia was a great organization and I liked it there but I'm pretty excited about the opportunity in Edmonton. From what I hear it's a great organization so I was excited when I found out that's where I was going."
As we've seen so many times in the past, sometimes a change of scenery can be all it takes to kickstart an NHL career. See Curtis Glencross last year. That's exactly what Potulny is hoping for. "It's a chance to have a fresh start with a new organization," he said.
When he comes to training camp in September, there will be 2 familiar faces to greet him. "I played a little bit with Joni Pitkanen in Philadelphia and I played against Matt Greene in college," Potulny recalled.
It's funny how things come full circle sometimes. Potulny was Philadelphia's 3rd round draft choice in the 2003 Entry Draft; that pick was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers. "It's a crazy world but we'll take it," laughs Prendergast.
Also interesting is that Ryan's brother Grant finished the season with the Oilers minor league affiliate in Springfield last year. When the Oilers leant Syvret to Hershey, Grant Potulny was the player that came back on the other side of the loan. The Oilers would love to keep Grant Potulny as their property, but it probably isn't in the cards.
"We'd like to bring him back but at this point he's got a pretty good offer on the table from Europe and I think he's leaning that way. He was looking for an NHL component to his contract and at this point we're too close to the 50-man limit to give it to him. We told him to go over to Europe for a year and to give us a call next year and we can explore it again."You can listen to Dan on Inside Sports weeknights from 8 to 11 on 630 CHED