But What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Jonathan Willis
March 23 2009 10:07AM

Huet We’ve had some discussion about the Oilers’ goaltending situation over the past couple of days. I’ve advocated a two-goalie tandem system, but despite that I’m convinced that most fans would prefer to see one bona fide starter. Based on how Craig MacTavish has used his starters in seasons past, I’d guess that he feels the same way. Kevin Lowe has generally employed one starter as a general manager, and during most of Tambellini’s tenure in Vancouver the Canucks did the same thing. The difficulty of course is finding a goaltender who is both capable and available; an order that’s often difficult to fill. However, there’s a good chance that at least one candidate will be available this summer: Cristobal Huet. According to Pierre Lebrun, one of the most connected journalists in hockey, Nikolai Khabibulin is interested in staying in Chicago and the Blackhawks are interested in keeping him there. That fits with recent comments from Joel Quenneville indicating that Khabibulin is his preferred option down the stretch and into the playoffs. The situation which raises an interesting dilemma: what would the Hawks do with Cristobal Huet? Huet, you’ll recall, was signed to a long-term 5.625-million per season contract this past summer. He was signed because Nikolai Khabibulin had proven unreliable after the Blackhawks snatched him from Tampa Bay, but he’s fallen out of favour after a subpar season. I think the Hawks would be mistaken to prefer Khabibulin to Huet, but hockey is a “what have you done for me lately” sport, so there’s little reason to doubt LeBrun’s report. Huet’s .910 SV% this season is his worst number since the NHL lockout – he’s consistently been one of the better goaltenders in the NHL, posting .920, .916 and .929 save percentages since the lockout (just for the sake of contrast, Nikolai Khabibulin’s current save percentage (.919) is his best mark since 2001-02). He’s signed long-term to a pricey but not outrageous contract, and he would be a long-term solution in net. The Blackhawks would need to be willing to take on some salary in return, but here again the Oilers would seem to be a legitimate partner – this is complete speculation on my part, but wouldn’t it make sense for the Oilers to take Huet off the Blackhawk’s hands if they in turn were willing to take on the cheaper contract of Dustin Penner?

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 Mr P
March 23 2009, 12:45PM
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Why would you even mention Huet for the Oilers? His contract is more ridiculous than Horcoffs. I would take Penners term over Huets in a pinch. If you are not getting an elite goalie I would not spend over 3 mil on a goalie. I would try to get Harding, Hiller, Halak or Rollie for one more season and see what we get out of JDD and Dubnyk.

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#2 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
March 23 2009, 12:56PM
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One could only dream.

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#3 Maverick
March 23 2009, 01:18PM
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I have a feeling the Oilers will be going the way Detroit has with Chelios, play him till he dies.

"Roli the goalie signs 5 year deal" just wait for it.........

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#4 Robin Brownlee
March 23 2009, 01:43PM
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If it's a "what have you done for me lately" situation, what about Huet's numbers compared to Dwayne Roloson's shows he's worth looking at?

I talked to Steve Tambellini this morning and the Oilers will look at re-signing Roloson based on how he's played. I'm betting they can get him for another year in the $2-3 million range. Why would the Oilers pay Huet twice as much?

And, if you bring in Huet, you either don't re-sign Roloson, who has played every bit as well, or you bring him back and basically tell Jeff Deslauriers he's not good enough to get a shot as a starter after all the time and money you've put into him since draft day.

Bad idea on many levels.

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#5 David S
March 23 2009, 02:03PM
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Here's the one thing I don't get whenever people talk about trading Dustin Penner. If even rank amateurs can see that Penner is underperforming his contract, how would actual hockey people see anything else?

Really. Is there any GM out there that stupid?

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#6 Chris
March 23 2009, 02:04PM
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If I was Roloson: I would tell my agent to get me a two or three year contract. "Old Balls" thinks he has a lot of hockey left in him... And I'm starting to think he is right. Based on his season, almost any GM in the league (including Tambellini) would consider giving Roli a one year deal. Come free agency, however, the team that is willing to take a chance on Roli and sign him to a multiyear deal is the team that Roli will sign with. It should be interesting to see if he gets any such offers.

Oh and Roli would be MY nomination for the Masterton Trophy.

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#7 Jonathan Willis
March 23 2009, 02:13PM
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I like Roloson, and already laid out my suggestion for this team going forward - namely, dump JDD because he probably isn't worth developing, sign some veteran to tandem with Roli next season (Labarbera, Legace, etc.) and move forward.

On the other hand, if the team is looking for a long-term solution, Huet's a good one. He's been an excellent goalie for years; don't let one bad - and let's face it, .910 isn't actually bad - season fool you there.

If you trade for Huet, you keep JDD as a backup because he's cheap and Huet's going to provide at the very least reasonable goaltending going forward (i.e .910 SV% or better). Yes, you let Roloson go for nothing, but you'd be doing that in a few years anyway.

In any case, I stand by my original idea, which is a tandem scenario. The only reason to do this would be to fix things long term - and it would do that.

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#8 Jonathan Willis
March 23 2009, 02:14PM
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David S wrote:

Here’s the one thing I don’t get whenever people talk about trading Dustin Penner. If even rank amateurs can see that Penner is underperforming his contract, how would actual hockey people see anything else? Really. Is there any GM out there that stupid?

Kevin Lowe? Sorry, cheap shot.

In any case, if Khabibulin is re-signed by Chicago, how much value do you think Huet's going to have? I'd guess very little. Chicago will have to take on salary in exchange.

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#9 Dennis
March 23 2009, 02:48PM
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Well, I don't know what the Oilers were thinking holding onto JDD in the first place but they at least be able to reserve the right to re-evaluate that decision come summertime.

I'd go with either spending money on one guy or spending money on a tandem because the Oilers aren't good enough goalie-out where they can Afford not to start someone bonafide in the pipes. That might work for Jersey or the Wings but I doubt it would work for the Oil.

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#10 Ender the Dragon
March 23 2009, 03:04PM
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I actually like the idea of a Huet / JDD pairing for the Oil next season, especially if Penner leaves as part of the deal.

I think Roli is doing great, but the dude will be 40 next season. Four decades old. That's old to be your starter, and despite his competitiveness, the body breaks down after awhile. Spirit is willing, flesh is weak, all that jazz. When Roli looked like he was going to be carried off the ice in Chicago on a stretcher for a couple of scary moments, we were all upset as hell but can anyone say they were surprised? (Roli? Get hurt? I just never could have imagined it . . .) No. Despite our horror, we all kind of expect the dude to get hurt now, and with increasing frequency. Because the dude is going to be 40. I just don't see his body making it through next season as your starter, tough-as-nails and cold-as-ice attitude or not.

Huet posted a .936 in 13 games for Washington last season. He's a lifetime .917 in the NHL. Most importantly, he's 33, so there's no reason to believe he's peaked yet; goalies typically play their best hockey late. But not 40-late. That's too much to expect. If you're asking who is going to mentor JDD next season, I think Huet is a much safer card to play than Roli.

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#11 David S
March 23 2009, 03:29PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Kevin Lowe? Sorry, cheap shot.

I think by now we have a pretty good idea that deal was made under duress. I have to believe that all things being equal (and they weren't), Lowe would not have made that trade.

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#12 JF
March 23 2009, 03:32PM
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@ Ender the Dragon: +1

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#13 Jonathan Willis
March 23 2009, 03:45PM
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David S wrote:

I think by now we have a pretty good idea that deal was made under duress. I have to believe that all things being equal (and they weren’t), Lowe would not have made that trade.

I know. Like I said, a cheap shot.

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#14 David S
March 23 2009, 09:22PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I know. Like I said, a cheap shot.

Ooooo Willis you trickster!

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#15 humantorch
March 24 2009, 06:35AM
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David S wrote:

I think by now we have a pretty good idea that deal was made under duress. I have to believe that all things being equal (and they weren’t), Lowe would not have made that trade.

If that were an isolated incident I'd be inclined to agree. However, Lowe has a solid track record of overpaying underperformers and general less-than-stellar negotiation skills.

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