July 05 2013 09:31AM
Rumour has it that the Oilers will kick off free agency by signing goaltender Jason LaBarbera.
The report comes from CTV's Adam Cook:
Hearing the Oilers will sign G Jason Labarbera. #oilers— adam cook (@adamcookCTV) July 5, 2013
LaBarbera's name also came up yesterday, when it was mentioned by TSN reporter Ryan Rishaug. Aside from the fact that incumbent starter Devan Dubnyk knows and likes him, his results over the last while have been pretty good:
LaBarbera has faced slightly fewer shots than Emery post 2004-05: 3,541 at even-strength. Emery’s save percentage was 0.920, league average is roughly 0.919 and LaBarbera’s numbers over that span are 0.918. In other words, we’re splitting hairs here, with Emery just narrowly better than league average and LaBarbera just narrowly worse.
As was noted in that post "league average" is a bit of a misnomer, since starters (and their superior save percentages) get more games than backups - a league-average goalie save percentage-wise is generally performing in the range we would expect of a bottom-third NHL starting goalie.
If this report turns out to be accurate, this is a strong player for the Oilers to add, and a guy who can fill-in for Dubnyk and step into more minutes if the incumbent falters. Additionally, because of his lower profile and the perception that LaBarbera is a backup only, it seems likely that his contract is going to be pretty reasonable relative to performance.
We'll know more soon.