Missing out on goaltenders

Jonathan Willis
June 21 2013 09:21AM

One by one, the top free agent goaltenders in Europe and out of college hockey have made decisions about their NHL future. So far, none of them has opted for the Edmonton Oilers, a team desperately in need of rebuilding their depth chart in net, and one that was optimistic earlier in the summer about attracting somebody like Antti Raanta (pictured above; ended up in Chicago).

Where does Edmonton go now?

Number Two

With Nikolai Khabibulin on the way out of town – and given his injury history that is without question the right decision – the Oilers options are limited to trade or NHL free agency.

In trade, we’ve previously looked at the Anaheim Ducks as a possible target, and they very much remain one. Frederik Andersen is a player who has youth, size and a sterling track record on his side – last season he was a 0.929 save percentage goalie in the AHL; the year prior he managed a 0.943 save percentage in Sweden. Blocked on the depth chart by Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller, and with highly-touted John Gibson the team’s probable goalie of the future, Andersen is a player who could be a very good fit as Edmonton’s backup.

In free agency, there are a number of solid veteran options (we’ve considered those previously, too). Ray Emery, Jose Theodore and Jason Labarbera are the three that strike me as the best potential fits/most likely to be available for the Oilers, but there are others. There are also less experienced options. Commonly mentioned are Boston’s Anton Khudobin, who could be a good fit because he’s been good both in limited NHL minutes and in longer stints in Europe and the minors. Also commonly mentioned is Thomas Greiss, who has been good in limited NHL minutes, but has been much less impressive in the minors and Europe.

Number Three

Yann Danis didn’t have a very good year, but realistically he’s the class of player the Oilers are likely looking at for the number three role, unless they manage to steal a not quite NHL ready prospect from another organization.

Personally, given the choice between another journeyman AHL netminder and Danis, I’d likely stick with the incumbent. His longer track record is excellent (he was the AHL’s goalie of the year last season) and he rebounded in the playoffs after a poor regular season. Unless there’s something that hasn’t been publicized that gives the team reason for concern, simply switching to a different AHL veteran seems unlikely to gain the Oilers much.

The exception would be if the Oilers see an AHL veteran that they feel has NHL potential, something that seems unlikely – looking at the AHL goaltending list, there aren’t a lot of non-prospect types that jump out as future NHL’ers. There's also the possibility of adding a lower-tier European - such as Bernhard Starkbaum - though it's debatable how much of an upgrade that is.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Canucks Army, Jeff Angus looks at Diamond in the Rough Free Agents (Forwards). While it's written from a Vancouver perspective, every team in the league would like to find an unheralded free agent who knocks it out of the park for them. Is there a player on this list that qualifies?:

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

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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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#2 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 21 2013, 12:25PM
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This Torts news (if it pans out) is the best news of the off-season.

We are all going to be treated to whirling entertainment.

I have no idea if he's a good coach or not, I am in no position to evaluate coaching.

I don't care about that. I care about hilarity. We just got gifted a ton of it.

No Eakins. No Stevens. how could so many books be wrong?

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#3 rickithebear
June 21 2013, 10:15AM
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Dubnyk was a top 10 save% goalie and the second best high shot count save% goalie in the league.

He is a 7W-0L 1.29GA .940SV% goalie with team canada in Spengler and WC this year.

In the 3 years as a starter Dubnyk has faced 32SH/gm. Has been league average or better all three years.

Generates 109/224 points .486 win% on a .426 team the other goalies have 72/200 points for a .360 win%

What Goalie in there right mind would want to play in an organization that has a GM that thinks a top 10 goalie with terrible D is not a starter.

If I am dubnyk, I do my final year in Edmonton then take my ass to NJD who only give up 22 shots/gm. 10 less per game.

He can be a 40+ win and 1.76GA goalie for 5-6 milion a year.

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#4 Spydyr
June 21 2013, 12:37PM
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Hope Torts does end up in Vancouver.Him and Nuk fans deserve each other.It is going to be fun sitting back and watching that gong show unfold over the next few years.

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#5 StuckOutHere
June 21 2013, 09:46AM
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@Mr common sense

What has Dooby done to make us fully confident in him? Put up decent, improving numbers season over season with one of the worst team defences in front of him.

What has Mike Smith done to make you fully confident that he's an upgrade on Dooby? One good season? Other than that a lack lustre career. We'd have to pay over market value to get him too. Tell me how that makes any sense, let alone being "common sense".

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#6 They're $hittie
June 21 2013, 01:59PM
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DSF wrote:

Jim Matheson ‏@NHLbyMatty 11m

very quiet on Oil trade front. I still think they will try and deal for BUFF winger Drew Stafford.

Thanks we can read our own twitter account.

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#7 rickithebear
June 21 2013, 10:52AM
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Goalies cannot score they Cannot prevent shot all they can do is stop shots.

the league average for Sv% is .914 to .916.

Carey price last 5 Qualified starter years. 08-09 .905 09-10 .912 10-11 .923 11-12 .916 12-13 .905 A .914 Save % goalie facing 29.7 SH/gm a .910sv% goalie 4 of 5 years.

Dubnyk 3 qualified starter years 10-11 .916 11-12 .914 12-13 .920 .917 Sv% facing 31.8SH/gm

M. Smith has 4 qualified years 08-09 .916 TBL 09-10 .900 TBL 11-12 .930 PHX 12-13 .910 PHX

.917 SV% facing 30.8 SH/GM Average or below 3 of 4 years

Bernier: All I need to Know is Dubnyk beat him out Head to head on team canada.

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#8 Quicksilver ballet
June 21 2013, 11:36AM
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DSF wrote:

Eric Francis ‏@EricFrancis 13m

BREAKING: Water is up to row 10 at Saddledome. Dressing rooms completely submerged. Jumbotron rm & all equipment destroyed. #yycflood #NHL

You'd think Eric would've atleast included some underwater photographs as well on that tweet.

Half assed effort all around for Eric. Where's the passion.

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#9 DSF
June 21 2013, 12:04PM
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Jim Matheson ‏@NHLbyMatty 11m

very quiet on Oil trade front. I still think they will try and deal for BUFF winger Drew Stafford.

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#10 Czar
June 21 2013, 12:45PM
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@ spydyr and Romulus

Can't wait for him to call out the divers and make the sisters cry! Maybe a new love affair with Cam cole on the horizon?

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#11 Spydyr
June 21 2013, 12:52PM
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A great goalie can carry a average team to the cup.A great team can carry an average goalie to the cup.A average team with an average goalie...NO CUP FOR YOU!!!(in soup Nazi voice)

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#12 Darrell
June 21 2013, 01:07PM
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DSF wrote:

gary lawless ‏@garylawless 4m

NHL source tells me John Tortorella has been offered #Canucks job and two sides are close to a deal #nhl #canucks Torts will coach Canucks

A know it all that puts down the home team - You must be ecstatic DSF !

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#13 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 09:28AM
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Umm...sorry why are we narrowing our lens to a #2 and 3 goalie only? What has Dooby done to make us fully confident in him? Is the price of goalies during the year not astronomically higher and selection leaner? If I'm MacT I'm looking at Mike Smith for sure, he's a battler and a proven goalie. under Eakins the Oil will play a tighter game and Smith would thrive. I'd also be looking at the Luongo option....I know it sounds nuts but he alone could propel the Oil into the playoffs.

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#14 Spydyr
June 21 2013, 09:32AM
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The Oilers have missed out on a lot of things during the Lowe era. Such as the playoffs for seven years.

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#15 John Chambers
June 21 2013, 09:32AM
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LaBarbera has some great numbers. He's probably the best "backup" goalie available. He would be my pick if I were the Silver Fox.

Emery and Khudobin could actually push Dubnyk, but I doubt either of them could outplay #40.

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#16 devon
June 21 2013, 09:57AM
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If Toronto trades for Bernier then Scrivens becomes an option too....I think Dubnyk is better than fine...

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#17 StuckOutHere
June 21 2013, 10:08AM
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Mr common sense wrote:

Yawn....being "stuck out there" has made you forget that Smith has playoff experience, has worked with Sean Burke the last 3 yrs (google his comments on his positional play) and would likely sign between 4-5M.

What has Dooby done? Oh ya..you were telling me what he has done. So we agree

Michael Leighton has playoff experience. Should we trade for him too?

The oilers' issue was not in net this season plain and simple. I agree with getting someone in to push and compete with Dubnyk, but Smith and Lehtonen would cost too much, would barely be an upgrade and would tie way too much money up in our goaltending position. See how that's working for Vancouver right now.

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#18 Jesse
June 21 2013, 10:12AM
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I, like some other Dubnyk supporters I'm sure, don't much understand MacT's apprehension on trusting Dubnyk long-term. He seems to be trending up each season. This year, he posted a slightly above league average Save Percentage while facing a ridiculous amount of shots and while playing behind a horrific defense. Only two goalies faced more shots and came out with a higher Save Percentage (Ryan Miller and Antti Niemi). In my opinion, he's not going to win the Vezina, but he's as good of a goalie as you need to be a contender.

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#19 oldhippy
June 21 2013, 11:18AM
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Sheesh. No love for Dubby. Funny how everyone says we over value our prospects and our fringe players, yet everyone undervalues our goalie.

By every metric, he is a starter in the NHL. His worst stat is gaa and that still puts him 27th against ALL goalies. This includes back ups as well as goalies with much tighter defence's. From all I've read on the Nation most would say that we have a lot of 3/4 and 5/6/7 defencemen and no real first pairing D. Yet Dubnyk is 14th in Save% and TOI, while being 27th in gaa. 14th in a 30 team league. By my calculations that makes him a better than average starter. Calgary's hero, Kipper, did not become a starter until he was almost 27. Dubnyk has better stats than Lehtonen in all categories and without the concussion issues and large contract.

Dubnyk has had better stats every year he has played in Edmonton. Every time he gets more starts, he puts up better numbers.

My take....Get a decent young back-up that can challenge him. Get him one decent first pairing defenceman. Let him get more ice time. He was 14th in TOI this past season. Get him in to top ten workhorse goalies. Do all this and then see where he and the Oilers are.

I think it is ridiculous the way people rip this guy, with the D playing in front of him.

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#20 Smokey
June 21 2013, 11:32AM
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rickithebear wrote:

Dubnyk was a top 10 save% goalie and the second best high shot count save% goalie in the league.

He is a 7W-0L 1.29GA .940SV% goalie with team canada in Spengler and WC this year.

In the 3 years as a starter Dubnyk has faced 32SH/gm. Has been league average or better all three years.

Generates 109/224 points .486 win% on a .426 team the other goalies have 72/200 points for a .360 win%

What Goalie in there right mind would want to play in an organization that has a GM that thinks a top 10 goalie with terrible D is not a starter.

If I am dubnyk, I do my final year in Edmonton then take my ass to NJD who only give up 22 shots/gm. 10 less per game.

He can be a 40+ win and 1.76GA goalie for 5-6 milion a year.

I think because hes so robotic people don't realize how good hes actually become and hard saves are look to easy. He still has a tendancy to let in a squeaker from 30 feet, but that usually after hes stop 15 shots in the period and 3 breakaways. People who say goaltending is a prob don't look at the numbers, and dwell on the odd stinker..920 SP with the worst defence next to Carolina last season is damn fine. Put him in Detroit or Boston or Chicago that would be .935.

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#21 washed up
June 21 2013, 11:46AM
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@oldhippy

Agree, the Oilers goaltending is 1 of a few things that's actually NHL caliber.

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#22 washed up
June 21 2013, 12:11PM
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@nuge2nail

There's no way you can compare the Oilers defense to the defense that kipper had in front of him since his time in Calgary. IMO Calgary's defense as been vastly superior to the Oilers. However I will agree that kipper made Calgary look like a better team then they actually were. Same as Broduer with NJD.

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#23 LinkfromHyrule
June 21 2013, 03:03PM
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They're $hittie wrote:

Thanks we can read our own twitter account.

actually for those of us who don't use twitter it's nice when people post tweets and other stuff like that. DSF is not being an a$$ so why do you need to be

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#24 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
June 21 2013, 05:39PM
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Mr common sense wrote:

Umm...sorry why are we narrowing our lens to a #2 and 3 goalie only? What has Dooby done to make us fully confident in him? Is the price of goalies during the year not astronomically higher and selection leaner? If I'm MacT I'm looking at Mike Smith for sure, he's a battler and a proven goalie. under Eakins the Oil will play a tighter game and Smith would thrive. I'd also be looking at the Luongo option....I know it sounds nuts but he alone could propel the Oil into the playoffs.

Mike Smith couldn't stop a beach ball when he played for Tampa Bay....then looked like an MVP when he got moved to Pheonix.......the Oilers look ALOT more like TB then they do Pheonix.....

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#25 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
June 21 2013, 05:42PM
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rickithebear wrote:

Dubnyk was a top 10 save% goalie and the second best high shot count save% goalie in the league.

He is a 7W-0L 1.29GA .940SV% goalie with team canada in Spengler and WC this year.

In the 3 years as a starter Dubnyk has faced 32SH/gm. Has been league average or better all three years.

Generates 109/224 points .486 win% on a .426 team the other goalies have 72/200 points for a .360 win%

What Goalie in there right mind would want to play in an organization that has a GM that thinks a top 10 goalie with terrible D is not a starter.

If I am dubnyk, I do my final year in Edmonton then take my ass to NJD who only give up 22 shots/gm. 10 less per game.

He can be a 40+ win and 1.76GA goalie for 5-6 milion a year.

EXACTLY !!!

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#26 westcoastoil
June 21 2013, 06:01PM
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"Diamond in the Rough" post is really the poo poo platter in disguise.

So AV (great guy btw) gets fired in Vanc. because his team can't score in the playoffs and lands a 5 yr gig in NY where they fired Torts...because his team couldn't score in the playoffs. Gillis whiffs on Eakins and Ruff because he's been interviewing everyone who's coached higher than bantam and ends up hiring Torts - whose teams can't score in the playoffs and is the most media bombastic coach in the NHL to lead the club in a town where the media and fans are more or less the same as those in Leafville.

As an Oiler fan living in Vancouver this is a fantastic day. Never mind than the sun just came out for the first time since Tuesday...and it's the first day of summer. Awesome!

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#27 a lg dubl dubl
June 21 2013, 10:26PM
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DSF wrote:

Yeah, I think the dam will break all over the league the day after the finals end.

Should be great theatre.

I hear ya, its going to be interesting trying to follow everything whilst drunk at Boonstock next weekend lol

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#28 Quicksilver ballet
June 21 2013, 09:29AM
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As the coming season unfolds, Edmonton will become the shining beacon of possible destinations for next yrs crop of European goaltenders. Maybe it's a good thing we missed out on this summers group.

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#29 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 09:52AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

There's a link on NHL vets above. My take on Smith is there. Personally, I think the love for Smith over Dubnyk as starter is a case of believing the grass is always greener, even when it isn't.

Sure. Makes sense I guess.

What about Lehtonen? I hear Ruff could lure Miller to Dallas, as Miller wants to head West anyway to be closer to his LA wife. That would make Lehtonen at 5.9M for the next 5 yrs an option. Solid goalie.

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#31 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 09:57AM
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StuckOutHere wrote:

What has Dooby done to make us fully confident in him? Put up decent, improving numbers season over season with one of the worst team defences in front of him.

What has Mike Smith done to make you fully confident that he's an upgrade on Dooby? One good season? Other than that a lack lustre career. We'd have to pay over market value to get him too. Tell me how that makes any sense, let alone being "common sense".

Yawn....being "stuck out there" has made you forget that Smith has playoff experience, has worked with Sean Burke the last 3 yrs (google his comments on his positional play) and would likely sign between 4-5M.

What has Dooby done? Oh ya..you were telling me what he has done. So we agree

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#32 Jesse
June 21 2013, 09:58AM
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So, if the Oilers acquire Khudobin, we'd go from having "Khabby" to "Khoo-dee".

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#33 StuckOutHere
June 21 2013, 09:59AM
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@Mr common sense

Is Lehtonen an improvement on Dubnyk? Worth the cost to acquire him and the cap hit? I genuinely would like to hear you make that case.

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#34 Mr. Common sense
June 21 2013, 10:00AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Off the top of my head, a) that's a lot of money and b) I'm leery of his injury history. No arguing he's a solid goalie, though.

Sheesh! So I guess it will be more of the same in net! No options other than washed up back-ups......hmm....I have a feeling MacT agrees with us fans who don't trust Dooby. That begets creative solutions. I look forward to it

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#35 Me common sense
June 21 2013, 10:04AM
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StuckOutHere wrote:

Is Lehtonen an improvement on Dubnyk? Worth the cost to acquire him and the cap hit? I genuinely would like to hear you make that case.

100% improvement. Excellent formation goalie, covers angles exceptionally well and has always posted strong numbers behind an awkward Dallas D. Meteoric ally better, at this time, than Dooby. Alas, 5.9M is a pretty penny no doubt. Another of Tammy's mistakes we have to live with I guess, for damn sure MacT would not have offered Dooby 3.5M. And before you lose it.....google what Cory Schneider makes.

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#36 Spydyr
June 21 2013, 10:05AM
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Mac-T stated he is not happy with the goaltending.Either am I, lets see if he talks the talk or back up his words with action.

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#37 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 10:07AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Mac-T stated he is not happy with the goaltending.Either am I, lets see if he talks the talk or back up his words with action.

Exactly. Pheuff. Been a while since the GM of the Oil had "common sense"

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#38 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 10:12AM
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StuckOutHere wrote:

Michael Leighton has playoff experience. Should we trade for him too?

The oilers' issue was not in net this season plain and simple. I agree with getting someone in to push and compete with Dubnyk, but Smith and Lehtonen would cost too much, would barely be an upgrade and would tie way too much money up in our goaltending position. See how that's working for Vancouver right now.

Leighton? I don't know, let me check his numbers and scouting report, must be readily available like Smith's is.

Ic. You would plan on keeping Dooby if we got Smith or Lehtonen and hence the trepidation with the money. See I'd lose Dooby in 3min if I landed a solid goalie and then proceed with the current planning of searching for a 2 and 3

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#39 DC
June 21 2013, 10:15AM
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Whatever happened to Benjamin Conz. He looked great in WJHC. Never got drafted. Have't heard about him since.

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#40 LinkfromHyrule
June 21 2013, 10:16AM
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@Mr common sense

we aren't getting either of those options without an excessive overpayment. I would rather see a proven backup come in, or at best a goalie who could push dubnyk. Dubnyk is an NHL caliber goalie but he's only 27... most goalies don't hit their prime until 30+

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#41 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 10:19AM
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LinkfromHyrule wrote:

we aren't getting either of those options without an excessive overpayment. I would rather see a proven backup come in, or at best a goalie who could push dubnyk. Dubnyk is an NHL caliber goalie but he's only 27... most goalies don't hit their prime until 30+

Corey Schneider Carey price Corey Crawford Tukka rask John quick

=less than 30

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#42 DSF
June 21 2013, 10:24AM
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Eric Francis ‏@EricFrancis 13m

BREAKING: Water is up to row 10 at Saddledome. Dressing rooms completely submerged. Jumbotron rm & all equipment destroyed. #yycflood #NHL

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#43 StuckOutHere
June 21 2013, 10:24AM
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Me common sense wrote:

100% improvement. Excellent formation goalie, covers angles exceptionally well and has always posted strong numbers behind an awkward Dallas D. Meteoric ally better, at this time, than Dooby. Alas, 5.9M is a pretty penny no doubt. Another of Tammy's mistakes we have to live with I guess, for damn sure MacT would not have offered Dooby 3.5M. And before you lose it.....google what Cory Schneider makes.

3.5 is a pretty decent contract for your starting goalie. It's by no means a value contract but it isn't terrible either.

What would you be willing to sign Smith for to get him in Edm? You can bet he'll be looking for a raise and someone'll be dumb enough to give him one.

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#44 Mr common sense
June 21 2013, 10:28AM
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StuckOutHere wrote:

3.5 is a pretty decent contract for your starting goalie. It's by no means a value contract but it isn't terrible either.

What would you be willing to sign Smith for to get him in Edm? You can bet he'll be looking for a raise and someone'll be dumb enough to give him one.

Absolutely 3.5-4M is unbelievable money for a starting goalie. Gillis was shrewd to get Schneider tied up like that.

I'd offer Smith 20M/4yrs. Then dump Dooby to the Isles or NJ for a dman like Hamonic. So I've immediately upgraded my D and goaltending in 3minutes.

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#45 Spydyr
June 21 2013, 10:30AM
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Jesse wrote:

I, like some other Dubnyk supporters I'm sure, don't much understand MacT's apprehension on trusting Dubnyk long-term. He seems to be trending up each season. This year, he posted a slightly above league average Save Percentage while facing a ridiculous amount of shots and while playing behind a horrific defense. Only two goalies faced more shots and came out with a higher Save Percentage (Ryan Miller and Antti Niemi). In my opinion, he's not going to win the Vezina, but he's as good of a goalie as you need to be a contender.

My take:

His compete level.

His loss of concentration.Allowing many bad goals.

The need for a legit goalie option to push Dubbie.

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#46 Aitch
June 21 2013, 10:32AM
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I'm not too worried about the goalies they've missed out on. Every goalie that comes over from Europe is taking the job of another North American goalie in another system. That only frees up other options. And, as we've seen time-and-time again with goalies, they can blossom overnight and seemingly from anywhere. Dubnyk might win the Vezina next year with a new coaching system, a year's maturity from those in front of him and a little extra puck-luck. Other than wins his numbers are very close to Corey Crawford's this past season, for example.

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#47 Quicksilver ballet
June 21 2013, 10:33AM
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DC wrote:

Whatever happened to Benjamin Conz. He looked great in WJHC. Never got drafted. Have't heard about him since.

That Jack Campbell kid as well. He was the cats meow of the world juniors 3 yrs ago. Think he was with the Stars. Gibson from the Ducks would surely net a handsome reward, if Murray came across a motivated buyer.

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#48 StuckOutHere
June 21 2013, 10:34AM
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Mr common sense wrote:

Absolutely 3.5-4M is unbelievable money for a starting goalie. Gillis was shrewd to get Schneider tied up like that.

I'd offer Smith 20M/4yrs. Then dump Dooby to the Isles or NJ for a dman like Hamonic. So I've immediately upgraded my D and goaltending in 3minutes.

3.5 on a short contract for dubey is too much but 5mil for a long contract to a goalie who isn't an upgrade on the previous tender is "shrewd"?

As my old man used to say, "Give your head a shake kid".

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#49 2004Z06
June 21 2013, 10:38AM
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Dubnyk is not the problem, an AHL level D core and a group of forwards that don't backcheck is the problem. Dubnyk will be just fine once the team in front of him improves.

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#50 Quicksilver ballet
June 21 2013, 10:38AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I hear Shea Weber's a pretty good goaltender as well...

Word has it, pucks stop and fall before him, like bullets in the matrix.

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