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 a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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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#51 **
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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#52 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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#54 Fresh Mess
December 14 2013, 01:42PM
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good move here by MacLooselips.

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#55 HardBoiledOil
December 14 2013, 01:54PM
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good riddance! and he'll be back in the AHL where he belongs as soon as Crawford is healthy.

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#56 mlcselli
December 14 2013, 01:58PM
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As far as the whole goaltending situation in Edmonton, we have to be the worst (or at least among the worst )in the League. LaBarbra has always been a backup---no help and no loss to us. Dubnyk, until his current contract, has always been a backup and today has no confidence in himself or from anyone else. Most erratic guy in the league. I'm sure he won't earn himself another contract here, and at best maybe a back up goalie elsewhere. Bryzgalov, we have to wait and. see.He looked good before injury. Hopefully he can give us some hope, but with almost 50 games left to play, my expectations are low.

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#57 redhot1
December 14 2013, 01:59PM
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This will solve the defensive issues! Bold moves indeed!

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#58 Rod from Viking
December 14 2013, 02:14PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Wonder if they offered Dubnyk for futures and Chicago did not want to pay his contract.

I sure would of made that offer.

I actually felt sorry for Dubynk last night, I was a goaltender and I couldn't imagine playing for a team that can't get the puck out of our end, letting opposing players free lance around the net , playing with no heart against a team that broke the jaw on one of your character guys, this has to be driving Mac T crazy as well as everyone else. Do you think his skype to Labarbra started with"You are in a better place now".

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#59 God
December 14 2013, 02:20PM
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TV6 wrote:

It's the same rhetoric over & over again from you every single time... Just like you do on the call-in shows.

Sadly... Your stink reaches ALL the way down here to California.

Don't you ever get bored of your repetitive thought process & magniloquence at some point..?

I LUV the way you point the finger at MacT for a bad pick-up, but when the Stanley Cup Champion GM does the exact same thing, you applaud him.

Your hypocrisy is laughable, not too mention tediously pedestrian.

Future considerations mean "nothing"... For a pick-up that cost MacT nothing in the 1st place... I wonder what your definition of "nothing" is when it comes to "anything"..?

There is 'nothing' more ironic & gelastic than pointing the finger 1 way when it is pointing straight at yourself.

At least you didn't mention Gagner or Hemsky this time... (that may be a 1st)

Bloody Ridiculous...

Merry Ho~Ho..!

x6

Thank you! Serious Gord has become a montonous, short-sighted version of DSF.

I hope he takes that to heart or at least gets his act together.

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#60 Quicksilver ballet
December 14 2013, 02:37PM
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Good for Jason Labarbera.

He wouldn't say it out loud I'm sure, but I'd wager he's really happy to be getting the puck outta here. Watch his save % return to that .915-.920 now that he has a couple legitmate top pairing blueliners in front of him.

Wonder who celebrates in silence next as he heads to the airport.

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#61 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
December 14 2013, 02:44PM
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@Rheal1

I'd be interested in seeing what an Eakins/Nelson combo could do, if only to turf Bucky and Smith. If I were in charge, I'd keep him on the farm for now, and let Eakins choose his own assistants.

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#62 Rheal1
December 14 2013, 02:52PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

I'd be interested in seeing what an Eakins/Nelson combo could do, if only to turf Bucky and Smith. If I were in charge, I'd keep him on the farm for now, and let Eakins choose his own assistants.

Sounds fair. However we all know that Bucky and Smith must go now. What else to do? Oh yeah, Lowe must go! (Not that it's ever going to happen. Not impossible but...). My big concern at this time is that some of the kids will demand a trade.

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#63 Spydyr
December 14 2013, 03:07PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

After seeing Brian Burke do his thing this week as president. We sure know he has no small role in the day to day operations the Flames. Being an NHL GM isn't what it use to be.

Kevin Lowe is still very much in control of every Oiler related move.

And it shows.

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#64 Richard
December 14 2013, 03:27PM
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Any poster here could have done just a poorly as the so called professionals in the last 8 years. No clue how to build a team.

Proof is the record

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#65 Sean
December 14 2013, 03:30PM
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There should be some type of mechanism where a team finishes last,they are dropped to a lower division. I wonder if the Oilers would win in the AHL.

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#66 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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#67 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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#68 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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#69 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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#70 Johnnydapunk
December 14 2013, 02:32PM
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Zarny wrote:

Good. Moves a contract out. Only time will tell if LaBarbera's career will continue; but it was clearly not going to be in Edm.

I agree, Barbs can have a job till he is 40 if he really wanted, after this season if there isn't tiny NHL feelers, he could always go to the DEL which is where a lot of NHLers go to die :-)

Amazing how short of goalies the Hawks are though.

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#71 camdog
December 14 2013, 02:59PM
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JW,

Couldn't the Hawks have picked Barbs off of waivers for nothing when Bryzgalof was put back in the line up. Did the Hawks even have to give up futures? Or was it the Oilers that gave the futures to Chigaco to open up a roster spot?

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#72 camdog
December 14 2013, 03:09PM
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Yikes now 5 points back of the Flames and they have 2 games in hand.

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#73 Say what again
December 14 2013, 03:32PM
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Young Oil wrote:

I like the way MacT does the little things. Got a pick and a roster spot for something we got for nothing.

Hopefully the roster spot is the precursor for a big thing.

Yeah, I just wish he'd get the big things right.

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#76 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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#77 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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#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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