ARMCHAIR GM XV: DOWN A CHIP

Robin Brownlee
February 20 2012 11:52AM

Granted, the market was at best minute and any return wasn't going to be much more than a box of tape or a bucket of pucks, but Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini has one less bargaining chip to play between now and the NHL trade deadline, thanks to Nikolai Khabibulin's tender groin.

With the deadline arriving next Monday, the Oilers announced Khabibulin will be on the shelf for seven to 10 days because of a strained groin, which he suffered while digging pucks out of the net in the first period of a 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks Sunday.

That timetable, even at seven days, takes Khabibulin to the deadline and effectively puts an end to the possibility, however remote, of moving the 39-year-old along to a team looking for help in the crease. With Khabibulin having one more year remaining on his contract, the market for him was, what, Chicago and . . ?

If there's a silver lining, the injury will give Tom Renney little choice but to take a longer look at Devan Dubnyk, who has yet to prove he's the answer in goal down the road. Given the Oilers have a day off before each of their next six games, it's possible he could start every one of them. No need to spell Dubnyk off with Yann Danis, who has been recalled from Oklahoma City.

For the most part, Dubnyk has struggled mightily of late. In his last five games, Dubnyk's saves percentages have been .786, .870, .833, .897 and .915. Overall, he's sitting at .905 with a 3.05 GAA. These are not the numbers, even allowing for the flawed team in front of him, of a goaltender who can carry the mail moving forward.

THE WAY I SEE IT

If you take Tambellini at his word, Khabibulin isn't the only chip off the table because he's already gone on record as saying he's not going to move Ryan Smyth, who has drawn more interest from contending teams than pending unrestricted free agent Ales Hemsky.

This, from Jim Matheson's Hockey World at the Edmonton Journal:

"Five teams, including the defending Cup champion Boston Bruins, were hot to trot on Edmonton Oilers winger Ryan Smyth. The Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings were sniffing around, too.

Nashville is lukewarm on Ales Hemsky; they’re definitely not as keen on him as they were on Smyth. They will not move golden boy defenceman Ryan Ellis, who helped set up (Jordan) Eberle’s dramatic last-gasp world junior goal in Ottawa. Nashville doesn’t want to give up a first-round pick in any deal because they did that last trade deadline for Mike Fisher."

Smyth, who can't be moved without giving his consent, is also on the record as saying Edmonton is where he wants to be and that he has no interest in taking a run at a Stanley Cup elsewhere, even if he retains the option to come back with a new contract next season. Smyth reiterated that with me in a conversation in the last couple of days.

-- Everybody paying attention knows the Los Angeles Kings are in desperate need of scoring help up front. They've got no shot, none, to do anything in the playoffs without that component. That fact, and it's no news bulletin, makes Hemsky a possibility.

That said, I shudder every time I read somebody suggesting that taking Dustin Penner back in a do-over as part of a trade might make it work with Dean Lombardi. When I said last week that Tambellini should get what he can for Hemsky, I didn't mean accepting less than nothing.

WHILE I'M AT IT

Some people are of the mind that Tambellini should do everything he can to re-sign Hemsky unless he's got a better Plan B for a top-six forward in mind, and that's certainly fair comment.

Others, including those supposedly in the know, have suggested that Tambellini might address fears about Hemsky's durability by offering him a contract with less term than the four or five years he and agent Jiri Crha are seeking or by putting a pact laden with performance bonuses on the table.

I've had a reader ask about this possibility in recent days and yesterday, the person who calls themselves TreenasOil on Twitter indicated the Oilers are doing exactly that by tweeting the following: "Oilers working on a bonus laced contract for Hemsky with term."

While that makes perfect sense, it's not allowed under the CBA. Here's the language on bonuses:

"Performance bonuses will only be permissible for the following types of players: (1) players on entry-level contracts; (2) players signing one-year contracts after returning from long-term injuries (players with 400 or more games who spent 100 or more days on injured reserve in the last year of their most recent contract); and senior veteran players who sign a one-year contract after the age of 35."

Have a terrific Family Day.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Lofty
February 20 2012, 05:10PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

Use Detroit's approach, spend 3-4M on a guy who can make the save when he needs to and spend that extra money on a good D-man or forward. You don't need a Lundqvist/Luongo/Fleury to win the cup.

Regarding Hemmer if Hemmer isn't enough to get Ellis what could we add to make it happen? Would it be a substantial piece? or a Peckham or an AHL prospect?

Agreed,

Most goalies are very streaky and whats good now can be pretty poor in a year or four. What would a team have done to get Steve Mason after his rookie year?

DiPietro and Giguere are some other examples of good times gone bad.

Spend 4 million on a goalie on a shorter term contract. 2-3 years. Like in the Garon and Roloson days.

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#52 DieHard
February 20 2012, 05:21PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

If we do trade Hemmer, and if he isn't enough to get Ellis, what sweetens the pot for Nashville?

Teubert and our 2nd this year.

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#53 Quicksilver ballet
February 20 2012, 05:27PM
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1 and a 2, and a 1,2,3......We are the Oilers (World)!

There comes a time when we hear a certain call

When Oilersnation must come together as one

There are fans suffering

and it's time to lend a hand to soothe the masses

There greatest gift of all

We can't go on pretending day by day

That someone, somewhere will soon make a change

We are all a part of the great big Oiler family

A decent hockey team is all we need

[Chorus:]

We are the world, we are Oilersnation

They are the ones who give an Oiler fan a brighter day

So let's start giving them their moneys worth

There's a choice we're making

We're saving our own lives

it's true we'll make a better day

Just you and me Tambo

Show them your heart so they'll know that someone cares

And their lives will be stronger and free

As Stu has shown us, by turning late first rounders into Eberles

So we all must lend a helping hand

[Chorus]

When you're down and out (29th or 30th), there seems no hope at all

But if you just believe there's no way we can fall

Let us realize that a change can only come

When we stand together as one

[Chorus]

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#54 The Real Scuba Steve
February 20 2012, 05:43PM
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Jim Matheson, now there is a real journalist.

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#55 Helmethead
February 20 2012, 05:43PM
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The netminder issue is like trying to pick fly-sh!t out of pepper. The good ones are there but it's merely a matter of finding them through decent scouting and the right fit.

Case in point: The Red Wings ALWAYS questioned Osgood but the guy was consistent back there and has the Stanleys to prove it. They brought in Hasak to win but clearly under valued Osgood.

Kipper was sub-par in San Jose but has flourished in CGY.

Luongo was THE FLORIDA PANTHERS. He goes to Vancouver and it's the right fit.

Roloson was solid in Edmonton but never got a chance with his former clubs.

Teams don't have to spend 3-4 million per year, they just have to find a decent fit. Khabby isn't that here in Edmonton. Neither is Dubnyk but at least let him play some games on a regular basis and see what happens.

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#56 Quicksilver ballet
February 20 2012, 05:57PM
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@ Cableguy, do you think Marty Turco could've stopped more than 11 of the 14 shots Dubnyk faced last evening?

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#57 Helmethead
February 20 2012, 05:59PM
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@The Real Scuba Steve

????

***insert Cricket sounds here***

Uhm, what's your point?

Other than pointing out the blatantly obvious, is there something subliminal you'd like to share with the group?

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#58 Terran
February 20 2012, 06:00PM
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Can someone please tell me how to block seeing certain posters comments on here?

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#59 Helmethead
February 20 2012, 06:08PM
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Terran wrote:

Can someone please tell me how to block seeing certain posters comments on here?

*hopes it's not me**

I'm merely being pragmatic...meaning practical, realistic, logical, rational, reasonable, sensible, hardheaded, hard-nosed (informal), matter-of-fact, no-nonsense, down-to-earth

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#60 Quicksilver ballet
February 20 2012, 06:15PM
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@Terran

I do believe you may find that in your Hockey for Dummies handbook sir.

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#61 Fresh Mess
February 20 2012, 06:18PM
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Anything more than 1 year @ $2.5 million for Ryan Smyth would be a mistake and bad cap management. Smyth's demands will be an indicator of how sincere he is in wanting to play out the string in Edmonchuck.

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#62 Mitch
February 20 2012, 07:48PM
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@Brownlee do you see any suprise moves coming, I know your not on the beat anymore and with all the social media now nothing ever seems a suprise. I just get very dissappointed watching seasoned vets make huge glaring mistakes, the coaches talk like they have put together a great game plan together and there is no one fearless other than 4/14/55.

When the team sits 29th, I don't care about injuries that ST talks about at his media avails, this team has to be a disappointment to him, why wouldn't it be?

The other thing that really bothers me is Tuebert played as a 6th dman here and now he's a healthy scratch in OKC, I know he was over his head in the NHL but can't dress in OKC, who is managment trying to fool? Many of there young guys are not getting proper ice time to really develope.

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#63 Smokey
February 20 2012, 08:30PM
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I don't blame Dubby and Bulin for the inconsistent play. When he's getting attrocious play from a guy like Barker every night, what can you expect. That guy should be put on waivers. Its not all Barker, Gibby, Whitney, Sutton have all been been inconsistent lately.

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#64 Biowolf
February 20 2012, 09:09PM
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hemsky for penner is an even trade.

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#65 mouthbreather
February 20 2012, 09:14PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

1 and a 2, and a 1,2,3......We are the Oilers (World)!

There comes a time when we hear a certain call

When Oilersnation must come together as one

There are fans suffering

and it's time to lend a hand to soothe the masses

There greatest gift of all

We can't go on pretending day by day

That someone, somewhere will soon make a change

We are all a part of the great big Oiler family

A decent hockey team is all we need

[Chorus:]

We are the world, we are Oilersnation

They are the ones who give an Oiler fan a brighter day

So let's start giving them their moneys worth

There's a choice we're making

We're saving our own lives

it's true we'll make a better day

Just you and me Tambo

Show them your heart so they'll know that someone cares

And their lives will be stronger and free

As Stu has shown us, by turning late first rounders into Eberles

So we all must lend a helping hand

[Chorus]

When you're down and out (29th or 30th), there seems no hope at all

But if you just believe there's no way we can fall

Let us realize that a change can only come

When we stand together as one

[Chorus]

?

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#66 Oilcruzer
February 20 2012, 09:26PM
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Biowolf wrote:

hemsky for penner is an even trade.

What?

Both UFA. So they would have to be the same talent going in...

....nope....

...dont see it.

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#67 dougtheslug
February 20 2012, 09:48PM
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Why is it that the same people who are lamenting the Oilers lack of quality vets to augment their elite kids want to trade a quality vet like Hemsky for what will only be prospects and picks - nobody is trading top six forwards or top pairing dmen for a 29th place team's question marks. And as for goalies, I would argue that they are the last piece of the puzzle to put in place, and that a quality consistent goalie is not only a rare commodity, but can be a liability - I would argue that Kiprosoff in Calgary has masked the utter mediocrity of that organization and prevented them from slipping into lottery country year after year, keeping them from ever drafting a player of consequence that could help them. It sucks right now but I plead for patience.

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#68 TonyT
February 20 2012, 10:07PM
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@Fresh Mess

Agreed. Isn't this the heart and soul that left over a 100K? Interesting the difference in perception as Hemsky signed long term at good value (esp. considering deals signed by Horcoff and Gilbert afterwards) and everyone says he has no passion... Not a judgement, just an observation.

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#69 admiralmark
February 20 2012, 10:12PM
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With our luck Hemsky will get pasted in the next few games before the trade deadline. Book it! :S

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#70 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
February 20 2012, 10:32PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

@ Cableguy, do you think Marty Turco could've stopped more than 11 of the 14 shots Dubnyk faced last evening?

for someone so constantly on the dive for another top pick bandwagon you are certainly being a meathead about this.

why, oh why, would you want MORE shots stopped when, according to you, the team should be losing?

flip flopping like a delicious stack of pancakes again/still?

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#71 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
February 20 2012, 10:33PM
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mouthbreather wrote:

?

probably safer if you dont ask

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#72 Romanus
February 20 2012, 11:32PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

@ Cableguy, do you think Marty Turco could've stopped more than 11 of the 14 shots Dubnyk faced last evening?

I think my mother could have.

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#73 gongshow
February 20 2012, 11:36PM
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Would still love to see Ales stay, but what about the Caps as a possible destination ST and him can't make a deal in the next week? They've got 3.6M cap space, an owner who wants to win and some gaps in the top 6. Hemsky's cap hit to finish the season would still allow another pickup on the back end. With Mike Green returning, they should start climbing back into the playoff picture (though tonight's 5-0 L to the 'canes looked ugly).

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#74 Wax Man Riley
February 20 2012, 11:46PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

Why is it that the same people who are lamenting the Oilers lack of quality vets to augment their elite kids want to trade a quality vet like Hemsky for what will only be prospects and picks - nobody is trading top six forwards or top pairing dmen for a 29th place team's question marks. And as for goalies, I would argue that they are the last piece of the puzzle to put in place, and that a quality consistent goalie is not only a rare commodity, but can be a liability - I would argue that Kiprosoff in Calgary has masked the utter mediocrity of that organization and prevented them from slipping into lottery country year after year, keeping them from ever drafting a player of consequence that could help them. It sucks right now but I plead for patience.

I have to agree. Having a real, quality, consistent goaltender can mask how poor a team really is.

Goaltending is important, especially in the playoffs, but as we see with teams like Calgary and Nashville; it can hide deeper issues.

That being said, I wish we had either Kipper or Rinne.

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#75 Wax Man Riley
February 20 2012, 11:47PM
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Romanus wrote:

I think my mother could have.

I'll trade you a 3rd round pick for her.

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#76 knobby
February 21 2012, 12:13AM
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I would be slightly more inclined to buy into Smyth's sincerity if he could take one for the team by going to a contender for a couple of months to get an asset and help the team out. Not to mention saving the owner several hundred thousand bucks. %500K ?

Ryan Smyth seems to be all about Ryan Smyth and what Ryan Smyth wants. He failed to impress me in the manner that he behaved when the Oil opted not to sign him in his previous incarnation with the Oil. He was pissed right off from the start of that fateful season because Horcoff got signed first. Remember the 'no hometown discount'quote from 2007?

All of that and the fact he hasn't performed very well this season has me wondering what the Oilers have to gain by signing him after this season at any price. Just sayin'...

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#77 Ed in Mada
February 21 2012, 02:56AM
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knobby wrote:

I would be slightly more inclined to buy into Smyth's sincerity if he could take one for the team by going to a contender for a couple of months to get an asset and help the team out. Not to mention saving the owner several hundred thousand bucks. %500K ?

Ryan Smyth seems to be all about Ryan Smyth and what Ryan Smyth wants. He failed to impress me in the manner that he behaved when the Oil opted not to sign him in his previous incarnation with the Oil. He was pissed right off from the start of that fateful season because Horcoff got signed first. Remember the 'no hometown discount'quote from 2007?

All of that and the fact he hasn't performed very well this season has me wondering what the Oilers have to gain by signing him after this season at any price. Just sayin'...

Although Smyth may have said no hometown discount, the numbers at the time were the Oil offering about 5.25 vs Smyth wanting 5.5. He signed for 6.5 that summer. Although he said no discount, there really was one one the table.

Next summer Smyth will sign with some team in August when teams are through the big name free agents and the evalute where they are. Someone will have a spot for a modestly price vetrean who has some goal scoring ability. Might even be the Oil.

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#78 vetinari
February 21 2012, 09:18AM
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I think Smyth will likely be resigned on a 1 or 2 year deal with a NTC (he wants to stay in Edmonton), but I would think he's now a $2.5M to $3.5M 3rd line support player due to age and declining skills. Don't get me wrong, he's a great mentor to the kids, plays through pain, can be thrown out in almost any situation, and demonstrates to the kids that there is at least one person on the planet who bleeds blue and copper.

As for tradeable assets for the deadline, we're screwed-- unless we start packaging up players/2nd tier prospects and some picks in deals for quality players-- and I don't see that likely happening.

I have a feeling that the Oilers trade deadline game plan has narrowed to only moving Hemsky and a defenceman (Peckham?, Chorney?) for most likely, picks and possibly, a prospect or two... I would consider the deadline a success if Tambi is able to move guys like Khabibulin, Barker, and Hordichuk at the deadline and a miracle if he can net back in return a young goalie and/or a top 4 defenceman.

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#79 Quicksilver ballet
February 21 2012, 09:24AM
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@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

We must all agree by now that Dubey has wasted the last two seasons here barely hanging onto his role with an NHL club. He was better served spending the last two season in the AHL playing 50+ games a season. They chose not to and now look at the mess in goal they have.

The Oilers could've received .900 goaltending from any number of available veteran goaltenders...Davidson,Hanlon,Dafoe,Hardy Astrom,Marty....all would've been a better option, in Dubnyks case as well as the Oilers. The Oilers would certainly still be struggling but they'd have a better prepared Devan Dubnyk ready to go going into next season.

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#80 nunyour
February 21 2012, 10:22AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

We must all agree by now that Dubey has wasted the last two seasons here barely hanging onto his role with an NHL club. He was better served spending the last two season in the AHL playing 50+ games a season. They chose not to and now look at the mess in goal they have.

The Oilers could've received .900 goaltending from any number of available veteran goaltenders...Davidson,Hanlon,Dafoe,Hardy Astrom,Marty....all would've been a better option, in Dubnyks case as well as the Oilers. The Oilers would certainly still be struggling but they'd have a better prepared Devan Dubnyk ready to go going into next season.

just because your playing lots in the much weaker ahl dosen't mean you are going to be any better in the nhl,goal tending is 90 % mental, thats why goalies can get in a zone as they say ,like habby started the year ,i have yet to see dubby get in his zone.

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#81 nunyour
February 21 2012, 11:26AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I don't disagree with your take on how Dubnyk has been handled. I think it's clear the Oilers have been lousy at developing goaltenders in general.

That said, Devan isn't the position to spew anything at anybody. He's smart enough to understand that.

I totally disagree,Khabibulin was playing more because he is the better goalie.What will Dubnyk learn in o.k.c ? He will play lots but against much weaker compitition ,why not practise with the best players in the world ,for me it is a qaulity or quantity issue ,just like Taylor Hall going back to play in the juniors ,it would be a waste of time.Practise with the best and now is your chance to stake your claim Dubnyk.I appologize in advance for my bad grammer as i only have half my grade 12,my dad took me out of school in grade 6.

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#82 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
February 21 2012, 12:42PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

We must all agree by now that Dubey has wasted the last two seasons here barely hanging onto his role with an NHL club. He was better served spending the last two season in the AHL playing 50+ games a season. They chose not to and now look at the mess in goal they have.

The Oilers could've received .900 goaltending from any number of available veteran goaltenders...Davidson,Hanlon,Dafoe,Hardy Astrom,Marty....all would've been a better option, in Dubnyks case as well as the Oilers. The Oilers would certainly still be struggling but they'd have a better prepared Devan Dubnyk ready to go going into next season.

depends. i think dubnyk was the perfect goalie to play, but that is because i was driving the tank bandwagon for a few years now.

IF it turned out he could handle the starting job then great, that whole is filled. turns out, it is doubtful he can, so the oilers should be looking elsewhere.

having a set of veteran goalies instead of dubnyk would leave the oilers almost further behind. now instead of having a young guy you tried and didnt turn out, you have old guys at the end of their career and nothing coming up from the ahl in the short term.

hindsight is easy.. reality is the team has been shat for so long, the goalie really wouldnt matter all that much

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#83 Quicksilver ballet
February 21 2012, 01:57PM
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@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

I'm obviously struggling with the whole alternate Oiler universe we're in. Always having to hit the reset button has its challenges for us all i'm sure.

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#84 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
February 21 2012, 04:27PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I'm obviously struggling with the whole alternate Oiler universe we're in. Always having to hit the reset button has its challenges for us all i'm sure.

agreed.

when all else fails, there is always beer

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#85 hunkybill
February 21 2012, 07:31PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

agreed.

when all else fails, there is always beer

Or you can smoke a fatty and think about Scarlett.

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