Goalie In, Young Gun Out?

Jonathan Willis
October 16 2013 08:21AM

 

If TSN's top duo of Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger are to be believed, Craig MacTavish is taking measured action in response to the Oilers' troubles early: assessing the trade market for goalies but not on the verge of making a deal. 

In the TSN story, McKenzie says that MacTavish has been working the phones since at least the weekend, scouring the league for available goaltenders and determining the cost of them. He also indicates that a deal likely isn't imminent, because teams don't like making moves this early. Dreger adds that Buffalo probably doesn't want to move Miller before Christmas and opines that "the Oilers are getting to the point where they realize they're going to have to give up one of their young guns."

The Goalies

There really isn't much surprise on the goaltending angle. 

First, MacTavish trying to get a read on who is available and what it might take to land them is an intelligent response to what has happened in Edmonton's net so far. Both NHL goalies have struggled. The third-stringer, Richard Bachman, has been impressive in Oklahoma City but his prior career makes him an uncertain option long-term. There's a decent chance that Devan Dubnyk responds if given a little more rope, particularly since this kind of four-game stretch isn't unheard of - even for good goaltenders. But the preparatory work needs to be done so that if the struggles continue a move can be made with no time lost.

Second, it isn't shocking that NHL teams are reluctant to deal goalies right now. What applies to Dubnyk (that he's been bad, but over too short a span to write him off) applies broadly across the league. Even teams getting strong performances early need to be wary; they might find themselves making a trade and then having nowhere to go when a hot streak ends.

The Young Gun

The question with Dreger's comment is how much of it is informed by knowledge of the inner workings of the Oilers' brain-trust and how much is his own read on the situation. 

As I see it, there is no pressing salary cap need for Edmonton to dump one of its young stars, and despite the strength at right wing there is no real place where positional constraints are going to force a move. Where it might make sense is if the price of acquiring a desperately needed piece at another position (read: a top defenceman in the prime of his career) is the trade of a young forward. Depending on the specifics, that might be a trade that makes the Oilers a better team, a case of moving strength for weakness rather than hastily mortgaging the future. 

The math on that trade always works out the same way. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out; without him the Oilers don't have a top centre. Taylor Hall is out; without him the Oilers' left wing depth chart looks terrible. Sam Gagner is out; he just signed a deal with a no-trade understanding and he's hurt anyway. Justin Schultz is likely out, because defence is the position the Oilers need the most help at and there's still reason to hope Schultz can evolve into a player effective at both ends of the rink (he's 23 years old and has yet to play his 100th professional game).

If one of the young forwards is out, the position to move is right wing; that's the only place where there are two guys currently/likely to evolve into first line players. As a secondary point, it's also the only place where the number three man on the depth chart looks like he could be a pretty nice fit in the second slot for the next few years. If the Oilers are making a top forward for top defenceman swap, it's almost certainly Jordan Eberle or Nail Yakupov leaving town.

But nothing in the TSN report indicates such a move is imminent; McKenzie doesn't talk about it at all and it's a sure thing that Edmonton isn't moving an Eberle or a Yakupov for a mediocre goaltender or a pending UFA, the two descriptors that fit all the players actually mentioned by name in the report.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Rotten Ron
October 16 2013, 08:30AM
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I wouldnt rule out Schultz, like you said the oilers need defence and Mr. Schultz provides none.

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#2 Boourns99
October 16 2013, 08:32AM
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JONATHAN YOU SHOULD HIDE WANYE WILL WANT TO TAKE HIS WRATH ON SOMEONE. THAT YOU SHOULD MENTION EBERSQUEEE IN THE SAME BREATH AS TRADE IS BLASPHEMY.

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#3 vince andrusiak
October 16 2013, 08:38AM
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There were reports of Edmonton looking to trade with Philly. Names on Phillie included Couturier, Carlee, Simmonds. On Edmonton, there was Take and Hemsky.

I read to separate reports on this last night. Did anyone else hear about these, as I can't recall the source.

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#4 Spydyr
October 16 2013, 08:38AM
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double post see below

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#5 Spydyr
October 16 2013, 08:39AM
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One would think a team with no real goalie prospect would have taken a goalie the last draft.

When this was mentioned at draft time it received a lot of negative feedback. It is sad when a second tier fan notices issues before the "braintrust" does.

This is turning into the rebuild without a plan.

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#6 vincheese
October 16 2013, 08:40AM
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@vince andrusiak

Sorry Take = Eberle. Damn autocorrect on my phone.

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#8 ubermiguel
October 16 2013, 08:42AM
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Everyone read that mc79 link and calm the f#$% down! MacT is working the phones like a good GM should and Dubnyk is going to regress to his mean (.917) which is a solid NHL goalie. Unless of course the fans ride him like a rented mule and destroy his confidence forever.

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#9 Oiler Al
October 16 2013, 08:42AM
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And, no other GM, wants Lowe's golden haired boy Hemsky!!!

While most successful teams build from the backend out, Oilers were chasing Boys on the Bus, Vol 2.

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#12 Spydyr
October 16 2013, 08:49AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

A goalie drafted last year would take five years to arrive.

Should they have snagged one in the later rounds? I would have been good with that; I support taking the best available goalie just outside the top-100 every year. But it didn't get much negative feedback because the time frame is so long and the odds of success with any goalie pick so bad (particularly in the 2013 Draft).

Unless your drafting Grant Fuhr or a goalie very early in the first round it goes without saying the goalie would take time to develop.

This was not about addressing todays problem it was about addressing tomorrows problems before they happen. Also know as foresight. Something sorely lacking here in the last three decades.

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#13 S cottV
October 16 2013, 08:50AM
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I know a polarizing figure, but I wonder if something involving Phaneuf and Reimer could be worked out?

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#14 Spydyr
October 16 2013, 08:54AM
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ubermiguel wrote:

Everyone read that mc79 link and calm the f#$% down! MacT is working the phones like a good GM should and Dubnyk is going to regress to his mean (.917) which is a solid NHL goalie. Unless of course the fans ride him like a rented mule and destroy his confidence forever.

If you are a goalie that lets fans ruin your confidence. Then you were not much of a goalie to begin with.

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#15 RT
October 16 2013, 08:55AM
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Instead of jumping on the misery band wagon like every one else i saw last nights game as a sign that the team is starting to grasp the new system . If they had played that way all year they would be above 500 even with bad goal tending. I believe they are going to start to win more then they lose in a game or two as this system is perfect for this team and its average size.

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#16 Spydyr
October 16 2013, 09:04AM
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RT wrote:

Instead of jumping on the misery band wagon like every one else i saw last nights game as a sign that the team is starting to grasp the new system . If they had played that way all year they would be above 500 even with bad goal tending. I believe they are going to start to win more then they lose in a game or two as this system is perfect for this team and its average size.

I saw positives also. Hope it was more the Oilers playing well than Pittsburg not bringing their A game.

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#17 ed in edmonton
October 16 2013, 09:04AM
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RT wrote:

Instead of jumping on the misery band wagon like every one else i saw last nights game as a sign that the team is starting to grasp the new system . If they had played that way all year they would be above 500 even with bad goal tending. I believe they are going to start to win more then they lose in a game or two as this system is perfect for this team and its average size.

No team stays above 500 with bad goaltending. As one sage hockey person once said "goaltending is 70% of any hockey team, unless its bad, then it 100%".

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#18 PSinghBSc
October 16 2013, 09:09AM
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I'm quite concerned with all of this talk of moving Yak or Ebs. We all want to win now but systems take time to develop. I hope MacT doesn't press the panic button on a aging goalie on the backend of his prime to salvage a season. We have been rebuilding for ages, hate to lose talent like Yak or Ebs. Top 6 forwards are hard to come by.

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#19 braidonh
October 16 2013, 09:09AM
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Hmm. If MacT is looking to make a deal... What would it take to pry Robin Lehner out of Ottawa? IMO, I think we'd be looking at a Petry-level player, a higher end prospect (Marancin, Fedun, ect), and a mid to high level pick (2nd or 3 and 4). Do you think that would be worth it? Lehner appears to be a stud in the making, and has experience (though limited) that offers numbers that suggest the same thing.

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#20 Rotten Ron
October 16 2013, 09:12AM
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S cottV wrote:

I know a polarizing figure, but I wonder if something involving Phaneuf and Reimer could be worked out?

Is last years leader in giveaways and a late 20's goaltender prone to losing concentration and giving up soft goals things you think the oilers need more of?

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#21 Cody anderson
October 16 2013, 09:13AM
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I hope they do not make a panic trade. Unless you are getting an elite top 5 goalie the cost at this point is going to be too high for the minor upgrade you are going to get.

If we give Dubnyk some time and space he should revert back to at least league average, which is probably the best we are going to get at this point anyways.

A team that is not deep, that is comprised of 1/2 new guys, that has a rookie coach, introducing a new system, could very well take some time to gel. Sure this is the worst start any of us could have imagined, but it is very early. Gagner should be back next week, and although the points have not come as of yet the boys are not playing that badly.

Last night we were all around the net, and I would say we out-chanced one of the best teams in the league. One more goes in or we get one more save and we are looking at a potential upset.

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#22 Tim in Kelowna
October 16 2013, 09:15AM
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I'm glad we're finally at the point where we can all seriously discuss this happening.

I'm a fan of Yak, but he would be the odd man out as far as I'm concerned. Eberle has developed nice chemistry with Hall and RNH, and Yak might even have more value because he has years left on his entry level contract.

It seems unlikely that the Oilers can find any team to give up their #1 goalie*. So it would seem to me that if MacT is thinking about unloading one of his high value assets, it would be for a stud d-man. Even then, I doubt guys like Subban, Pietrangelo or Ekman Larssen are available. That seems to leave one name: Shea Weber.

* JW, this summer it sounded like Lundquist was unhappy in NY. If contract talks are still sour, is it possible that is the fit MacT is looking for?

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#23 Czar
October 16 2013, 09:15AM
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I'd like to see MacT try to do a deal with the Wild for Harding,sh!t even Kuemper would be an upgrade at this point. The Wild have done well at drafting goalies and they might be persuaded, Might be.

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#24 Racki
October 16 2013, 09:18AM
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Don't see it happening, but would love to see the Oilers move their 1st plus Yak (sorry) in a package that nets them a solid starter and all around D. Wishful thinking though. In that kinda of deal I also imagine a lot of salary would come this way.

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#25 Ryan2
October 16 2013, 09:22AM
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RT wrote:

Instead of jumping on the misery band wagon like every one else i saw last nights game as a sign that the team is starting to grasp the new system . If they had played that way all year they would be above 500 even with bad goal tending. I believe they are going to start to win more then they lose in a game or two as this system is perfect for this team and its average size.

Rob Brown summed the SWARM up best in his post game comments. To paraphrase "It can work in Juniors, might work in the AHL, but in the NHL there will be skilled players that can beat the overcommitment and it leaves the high slot open for great chances."

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#26 Walter Sobchak
October 16 2013, 09:23AM
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JW

How was that Glen Sather could keep this team in the playoff picture with half the budget and still find excellent players? Particularly goalie's?

He could always find jems in a coal mine.

I know money and buying a team has gone to his head and it's much easier to acquire UFA's and produce a playoff team when your city is Manhattan but Slats could get it done.

To acquire Miller or Elliot shouldn't cost a whole lot! Miller for one wants out, more importantly he wants to come west.......Am I missing something?

Again, so semblance of risk, were we not told this?

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#27 Lochenzo
October 16 2013, 09:32AM
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Speaking of Lundqvist, he's struggling too. I blame the pads. Both Lundqvist and Dubnyk have the same pattern on their pads.

Is Frederic Chabot with the team on the road trip? I have no ideas of the capabilities of Chabot as a goaltending coach, but Stephane Waite gets a lot of press for working with Corey Crawford in Chicago and now working with Carey Price this year. Watching Dubnyk in Toronto, it's pretty clear to me that Dubnyk is not feeling it. For a big guy like Double D, he needs to rely on his butterfly and make himself big and just 'know' that pucks are going to hit him. That's where the goalie coach comes in to help get him to where he needs to be, physically, mentally and emotionally.

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#28 Oil4Life
October 16 2013, 09:37AM
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Stoked to see the next game. played really well in the last one. maybe Dubby will have his head on straight and start playing like we all know he can.

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#29 Zamboni Driver
October 16 2013, 09:40AM
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ed in edmonton wrote:

No team stays above 500 with bad goaltending. As one sage hockey person once said "goaltending is 70% of any hockey team, unless its bad, then it 100%".

You stats nerds are all the same. *kidding*

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#30 DrunkGuyTy
October 16 2013, 09:44AM
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Too bad Dreger and McKenzie seem to be joining the rest of the MSM and focusing on traffic hits rather than any real credible 'insider' information. Haven't heard anything new from them in some time.

Too bad we couldn't know for sure when DD was going to snap out of this funk - we all know he will eventually.

I would never have thunk that if we traded one of the young guns, it would be for a goalie. I don't like that idea. At. All. ...for a 1-2 d-man - sure.

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#31 S cottV
October 16 2013, 09:46AM
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@Rotten Ron

I understand the downside but Phaneuf is a legit top 2 d man, has a lot of physical presence, is a local guy who may not mind playing here at a reasonable cost and the Leafs may be willing to part with him. If he could be influenced to play more within himself, maybe the giveaways and unneccesary hits that cause odd man counter attacks - become manageable? As for Reimer, he may just need a fresh start and perhaps a Dubnyk / Reimer tandem - going with whoever is playing best might work. Again - Leafs may be willing to part with Reimer.

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#32 Soccer Steve
October 16 2013, 09:49AM
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If they are willing/able/considering trading Yakupov at this early juncture in his career - even when he is absolutely not a flop of a pick - then does this not mean that someone's head has to roll up the ladder?

Now, who's the elephant in the room I'm referring to?

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#33 madjam
October 16 2013, 09:50AM
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We need stellar goalkeeping every night to win , and there is no one in entire NHL capable of giving us that , so why mortgage our future stars ? if we can get on without giving away our future stars , then do it . Giving up a first round pick should also not be an option at this stage , considering where we might finish on present course . The only one they might consider is Yak who sat out recently . Eberle has become our most reliable player of group and we would be remiss to let him go anywhere .

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#35 Fresh Mess
October 16 2013, 09:55AM
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Imagine the package the Oilers could have gotten if they had dealt the number one pick instead of drafting Yakupov Smirnoff.

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#39 loweblows
October 16 2013, 10:03AM
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Not a hope in hell any of the young guns will be traded. They are deep in defense prospects(nurse excluded) that they can use for trade bait. Bet on a team in need defensive prospects to be their dance partner. Also Wednesday checklist: woke up mad, got dressed mad, checked internet, still no &%$*@# goalie, had coffee, feel better, watch flames win, go to bed angry. Repeat 7 years.

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#40 ubermiguel
October 16 2013, 10:04AM
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Spydyr wrote:

If you are a goalie that lets fans ruin your confidence. Then you were not much of a goalie to begin with.

He'll just recover his game elsewhere like so many other Oilers run out of town by the fanbase: Poti, Arnott, Lupul off the top of my head.

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#41 Taylor Gang
October 16 2013, 10:09AM
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Lundqvist? Jeez talk about whale hunting...

That being said, if we're trading a young gun, I want a strong return. Those kids are already stars and are only getting better. I'd try to get Robin Lehner somehow

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#42 Tom
October 16 2013, 10:10AM
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RT wrote:

Instead of jumping on the misery band wagon like every one else i saw last nights game as a sign that the team is starting to grasp the new system . If they had played that way all year they would be above 500 even with bad goal tending. I believe they are going to start to win more then they lose in a game or two as this system is perfect for this team and its average size.

If they play like that and don't have bad goaltending they will be fine. No matter how they play they will never win consistently with bad or even average goaltending. Time for a change.

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#43 Oiler63
October 16 2013, 10:25AM
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Don't think any of the allegedly available goalie is worth Eds or Yak city. Action is needed to address the goalie situation but you don't want to get ripped off. At the same time, the "We are going to lose no matter how hard we try" mentality will kill the confidence of the team. Again, oilers are in a very tough spot.

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#44 Metal&Oil
October 16 2013, 10:28AM
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I know he is far from NHL proven(2 NHL games) But if I'm the Oilers I go after Wings goalie Petr Mrazek. What would that cost us?

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#45 Bryan in SK
October 16 2013, 10:29AM
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Lochenzo wrote:

Speaking of Lundqvist, he's struggling too. I blame the pads. Both Lundqvist and Dubnyk have the same pattern on their pads.

Is Frederic Chabot with the team on the road trip? I have no ideas of the capabilities of Chabot as a goaltending coach, but Stephane Waite gets a lot of press for working with Corey Crawford in Chicago and now working with Carey Price this year. Watching Dubnyk in Toronto, it's pretty clear to me that Dubnyk is not feeling it. For a big guy like Double D, he needs to rely on his butterfly and make himself big and just 'know' that pucks are going to hit him. That's where the goalie coach comes in to help get him to where he needs to be, physically, mentally and emotionally.

I've mentioned Chabot in previous posts. Before making any trades, Dubnyk or otherwise, I'd try a goaltending coach change. In hockey, or in life, changing a mentor can change a career.

And I'd ESPECIALLY try this change before shipping out any of the young guns.

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#46 crobar
October 16 2013, 10:31AM
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how good does habby look now?? it may have been a big mistake not to re-sign him. it would have taken the pressure off of doobie. no one could ever accuse habby of being out of shape...... but this is monday morning quarterbacking.

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#47 ghostofberanek
October 16 2013, 10:31AM
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S cottV wrote:

I know a polarizing figure, but I wonder if something involving Phaneuf and Reimer could be worked out?

If it gets Elisha Cuthbert in Edmonton, where we'll run into each other, she falls in love with me, leaves Phaneufinstein and we live happily ever after..... what were we talking about again?

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#48 DSF
October 16 2013, 10:34AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm reasonably confident Yakupov has more value now, after a successful rookie season, than that first overall pick did.

I would suggest his value is dropping rapidly.

Here is an audio clip of Russian National team scout Igor Kravchuk ripping Yakupov:

http://proxy.autopod.ca/podcasts/chum/179/16630/kravchuk%20on%20yakupov.mp3

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#49 Spydyr
October 16 2013, 10:39AM
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ubermiguel wrote:

He'll just recover his game elsewhere like so many other Oilers run out of town by the fanbase: Poti, Arnott, Lupul off the top of my head.

If fans are making decisions on who stays and as you put it gets "run out of town". The team is in even worse shape management wise than I thought and that is saying a lot.

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#50 ghostofberanek
October 16 2013, 10:41AM
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@DSF

So Igor Kravchuk is the authority on who's valuable and who's not now?

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