So Long, Jason LaBarbera

Jonathan Willis
December 14 2013 11:55AM

 

The Edmonton Oilers announced this morning that they had traded goaltender Jason LaBarbera to the Chicago Blackhawks for the proverbial bag of pucks.

This is good news for basically everybody involved.

For the Edmonton Oilers...

This means a bunch of things for Edmonton, and basically all of them are good.

First, it means that Ilya Bryzgalov is ready to go. With Devan Dubnyk crashing and burning this season, the Oilers need a starting goalie they have some confidence in, and Bryzgalov has done nothing but play extremely well in Edmonton. 

Second, it gives the team additional flexibility to make other moves, as Bob Stauffer points out:

Third, this restores the natural order to the goaltending depth chart. Edmonton now has two veterans at the NHL level, a good third-string veteran in Oklahoma (Richard Bachman, who filled in ably in Edmonton prior to getting hurt) and space on the farm for Laurent Brossoit, the club's top goaltending prospect. 

For the Chicago Blackhawks...

Chicago has had some injury problems in net, and LaBarbera gives the team some valuable depth.

Finnish rookie Antti Raanta, who the Oilers tried to sign in the summer, has played extremely well in the Blackhawks' net, going 5-0-1 with a 0.926 save percentage after being elevated from the starting role in Rockford to the starting role in Chicago. 

But he's all Chicago has right now. Starter Corey Crawford is expected to miss roughly three weeks thanks to a lower body injury and Raanta's backup right now is Kent Simpson, a rookie pro who has provided the AHL's Rockford Icehogs with a 0.900 save percentage goaltending over 15 games. That's not much of a backup policy.

Mostly, though, it seems likely this move was brought on by Nikolai Khabibulin being Nikolai Khabibulin.

 

Khabibulin has been on injured reserve for a month now with a lower body injury (as per TSN). In the four games he played for the Blackhawks, he posted a 0.811 save percentage. He's been well and thoroughly beaten for an NHL job by Raanta and when everybody's healthy it's hard to see how the 'Hawks could send down the superior goaltender to hang on to a guy who was signed as a veteran stopgap. 

That leaves a hole long-term in Rockford, where Simpson seems unready to take on the starting role. Because of his reasonable contract, LaBarbera can fill that slot and provide Chicago's farm team with exceptional AHL goaltending and the Blackhawks themselves with a reliable third-stringer. 

For LaBarbera...

This is a chance to play.

The Oilers couldn't afford to give LaBarbera a chance to play his way back into form; with Devan Dubnyk imploding and LaBarbera unable to calm the waters the team really had no choice but to go out and find somebody else. It put the goaltending depth chart into disarray, and once the music stopped and everybody got healthy there weren't going to be enough chairs for everyone involved.

LaBarbera goes to a contender, which leaves him the chance of being the backup for a Stanley Cup winner if injuries strike again. While he's probably looking at a long stint in the AHL, that was going to happen regardless, and this move means at least he'll be playing in the minors rather than fighting for time with another solid third-stringer. It gives him an opportunity to rehabilitate a career badly tarnished by his short stint in Edmonton.  

It's a win-win-win.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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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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#51 Oilerz4life
December 14 2013, 03:45PM
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Start Bryzgalov, make Bachman the backup and move Dubnyk down to OKC.

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#52 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 14 2013, 03:48PM
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Side point but does this make the Smid trade any clearer? The thought was there was more coming but obviously there isnt. I have no clue why he was traded for what we got. Yet i still see people thinking macT does the little things right. Are we Oiler fans as delusional as the Oilers?

Just horrendous to think that mediocrity is a step up for our hockey club

sorry just had to vent a little more

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#53 Oilerz4life
December 14 2013, 03:52PM
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LA's third string backup is better than our starter. I wonder if when Quick comes back if we can trade Dubnyk for Jones. Bryzgalov/Jones tandem would be sick.

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#54 Rheal1
December 14 2013, 03:54PM
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Oilerz4life wrote:

Start Bryzgalov, make Bachman the backup and move Dubnyk down to OKC.

Agreed. Better yet buy him out.

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#55 Alex Mathis
December 14 2013, 03:55PM
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Jonathan, can you tell us anything about "future considerations?" What is it going to be? How did other trades occur with "future considerations?"

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#58 Cal
December 14 2013, 04:13PM
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I for one would love to "Fast Track" Laurent Brossoit into back up role for the Oilers ASAP. We all know this season is shot and Dub's contract will probably not be renewed due to his performance. I like Dub very much, but he is not a #1 goaltender. Give Brossoit the experience and exposure now.

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#59 camdog
December 14 2013, 04:31PM
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Cal wrote:

I for one would love to "Fast Track" Laurent Brossoit into back up role for the Oilers ASAP. We all know this season is shot and Dub's contract will probably not be renewed due to his performance. I like Dub very much, but he is not a #1 goaltender. Give Brossoit the experience and exposure now.

Brossoit isn't even a good AHL goalie right now. When we traded for him Calgary had him playing in the East Coast hockey league. If Brossoit had been playing against the Canucks the other night he would have easily given up 10-12 goals. There is no fast tracking Brossoit. Maybe try Bachman out, but Brossoit isn't even a realistic option right now.

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#60 MMAX
December 14 2013, 04:36PM
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Lucky Labarbera. He's probably happy to get out.

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#61 Spydyr
December 14 2013, 04:59PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

Agreed. Better yet buy him out.

I would save the last buy out for Gagner this summer.

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#62 Spydyr
December 14 2013, 05:00PM
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Cal wrote:

I for one would love to "Fast Track" Laurent Brossoit into back up role for the Oilers ASAP. We all know this season is shot and Dub's contract will probably not be renewed due to his performance. I like Dub very much, but he is not a #1 goaltender. Give Brossoit the experience and exposure now.

How has fast tracking worked for the Oilers in the past?

Yeah, maybe not.

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#63 Smokey
December 14 2013, 05:03PM
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I hope Barbie gets to play in the SCP and carries Chicago to a cup. The notion that that the Oilers could not allow him to get back into form is silly. We are not going anywhere. We gave Sam Gagner 15 games to return form, and Dubby cost us like ten games...

Anyways go Oilers...I just want to beat Calgary and I'll be happy this year.

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#64 Rheal1
December 14 2013, 05:05PM
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Spydyr wrote:

I would save the last buy out for Gagner this summer.

No way! Package Gagner with our 2nd for a good stay at home, shut down, shot blocking Dman. Right at trade deadline.

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#65 Spydyr
December 14 2013, 05:08PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

No way! Package Gagner with our 2nd for a good stay at home, shut down, shot blocking Dman. Right at trade deadline.

Maybe in NHL13.

Besides St.Louis has our second for Perron.

Better luck next time.

Edit: You mean someone like say Smid?

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#66 outdoorzguy
December 14 2013, 05:15PM
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@Jordan Nugent-Hallkins

Who really is in charge? The owner? All he wants is your money. McTavish? Not based on these bold moves. The President of Hockey Operations? He'd have to get his head out of the owners lap to have a clue what's going on. Scott Howson? Not sure what he does for a job. Mark Messier? He's just a living hockey card for the owner.

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#67 **
December 14 2013, 05:34PM
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At this point oilers players go to bed dreaming they get the call the next morning that they have been traded.

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#68 hall the time
December 14 2013, 05:48PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

Who really is in charge? The owner? All he wants is your money. McTavish? Not based on these bold moves. The President of Hockey Operations? He'd have to get his head out of the owners lap to have a clue what's going on. Scott Howson? Not sure what he does for a job. Mark Messier? He's just a living hockey card for the owner.

Who really is in charge is Steve Smith and Kelly Buckberger.

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#69 Muji
December 14 2013, 06:32PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

No way! Package Gagner with our 2nd for a good stay at home, shut down, shot blocking Dman. Right at trade deadline.

"good stay at home, shut down, shot blocking Dman" sounds like Ladislav Smid (who, might I add, was also on a good contract and a bit nasty).

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#70 Oilergasm
December 14 2013, 08:09PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Maybe in NHL13.

Besides St.Louis has our second for Perron.

Better luck next time.

Edit: You mean someone like say Smid?

Can you honestly say at anytime since the Smid trade "If only we still had Smid we coulda won that game"

Looking back, since the trade we've had a somewhat respectable record and the flames have dropped off( I know they've also had key injuries)

Maybe the Smid trade was one of the culture changes that we've been hearing about. Also freeing up cap space if someone of significance comes available.

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#71 Rod from Viking
December 14 2013, 08:30PM
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Spydyr wrote:

I feel sorry too.Sorry Dubnyk is the Oilers starting goalie.

He never earned it.They paid like a starter before he earned it.Next year he will be what he really is. A back-up, most likely for another team.

If you read any of my other comments you would know I am not a fan at all of Dubynk as a #1 and I agree with you, but at the same time he did battle hard for the first 40 minutes last night with no help, did you happen to see Coaches Corner tonight where it showed Vancouver's first shift last night? It was for sure little girls against NHL players, Larson was knocked down 3 times, they had about 5 shots on goal and kept the puck in the Oilers end for at least a minute.

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#72 camdog
December 14 2013, 09:33PM
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Oilergasm wrote:

Can you honestly say at anytime since the Smid trade "If only we still had Smid we coulda won that game"

Looking back, since the trade we've had a somewhat respectable record and the flames have dropped off( I know they've also had key injuries)

Maybe the Smid trade was one of the culture changes that we've been hearing about. Also freeing up cap space if someone of significance comes available.

The Flames have not dropped off they are still 5 points ahead of the Oilers in the standings with 2 games in hand. Flames have won 5 of their last 7.

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#73 madjam
December 14 2013, 09:38PM
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Oilergasm wrote:

Can you honestly say at anytime since the Smid trade "If only we still had Smid we coulda won that game"

Looking back, since the trade we've had a somewhat respectable record and the flames have dropped off( I know they've also had key injuries)

Maybe the Smid trade was one of the culture changes that we've been hearing about. Also freeing up cap space if someone of significance comes available.

Calgary is now 5 points up on us , on a 2 game winning streak and 2 games in hand . How do you get the Oilers are doing better since trade ? We are not better without Smid .

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#74 Fresh Mess
December 14 2013, 10:20PM
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Spydyr wrote:

I would save the last buy out for Gagner this summer.

And then hopefully a new owner could buy out Katz. And then Lowe and MacT could be bought out of their contracts. And the new owner could buy his own arena.

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#75 john
December 15 2013, 03:52AM
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Why is everybody so hook up on Smid? He's not the savior of the team, all the young guns are soft, they are easy to defend against. We need more players in Perron, some players not back down from the goons of other teams. All of the ex-Oilers are playing well with other teams, why is that? WE gave Dustin Penner $5 millions a year and he did dick all here. Now he lead the league in plus and minus. They are all lazy and under performed in Edmonton for some reasons

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#76 Oilergasm
December 15 2013, 04:58AM
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madjam wrote:

Calgary is now 5 points up on us , on a 2 game winning streak and 2 games in hand . How do you get the Oilers are doing better since trade ? We are not better without Smid .

Hate to break it to you, but we were 4-11-2 before we traded Smid, and 7-9-1 since. We actually are better without Smid, I'm not saying that he's the reason we've won a few more games, but I am saying he's definitely not the reason we aren't losing more games.

At the time, I absolutely hated the trade but based on a very small sample size since, he hasn't been missed.

Sounds like you'd rather just head down to the mall, buy a Nieuwendyk jersey and hop all over the Brian Burke band wagon.

Have at 'er Champ!

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#77 TRAV
December 15 2013, 05:09AM
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john wrote:

Why is everybody so hook up on Smid? He's not the savior of the team, all the young guns are soft, they are easy to defend against. We need more players in Perron, some players not back down from the goons of other teams. All of the ex-Oilers are playing well with other teams, why is that? WE gave Dustin Penner $5 millions a year and he did dick all here. Now he lead the league in plus and minus. They are all lazy and under performed in Edmonton for some reasons

My problem wit h the Smid trade is not just the return but the clear indication that the club doesn't understand the deficit with the team. The Oilers need more rugged, tough to play against players who finish checks and play with aggression. While Smid is not the savior he is exactly the kind of player this team needs more of not less. Moving him makes one wonder about the vision for this squad. We have too many of the same small soft skilled guys and not enough big strong skilled guys. No coincidence that Calgary and Edmonton are at bottom of West and are two of smaller teams in the league. Both teams lost too any puck battles on the boards.

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#78 oilersfan123
December 20 2013, 11:50AM
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Oilerz4life wrote:

Start Bryzgalov, make Bachman the backup and move Dubnyk down to OKC.

What makes you think that Bachman is a better backup than Dubnyk? Sure, he had the one good game against LA, but the rest of his time this year he was either terrible or injured. Give Dubnyk some credit, he's kept the oilers in more than a few games this year. Not saying he should be a starter though.

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