Report: Edmonton Oilers to sign Jason LaBarbera

Jonathan Willis
July 05 2013 09:31AM

 

Photo: Michael Wifall/Wikimedia

Rumour has it that the Oilers will kick off free agency by signing goaltender Jason LaBarbera.

The report comes from CTV's Adam Cook:

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. 

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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 ghostofberanek
July 05 2013, 09:35AM
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Meh.

It does give us a trusty backup though, and it beats Bryzgalov being the new #1.

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#2 gordoil
July 05 2013, 09:35AM
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makes sense sign low guy on the totem pole and save big money for bigger bang

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#3 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
July 05 2013, 09:36AM
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I'm already giddy. And this would allow Dubnyk to continue being our #1 while getting a push from Barbs. Pretty much exactly what I wanted.

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#4 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
July 05 2013, 09:36AM
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Ye olde double poste

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#5 tileguy
July 05 2013, 09:50AM
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What a great start, a hole has been filled intelligently. Now for some drunken sailor spending, (it's Katz's money, not yours) with the salary cap going to skyrocket in the near future (see nbc ratings) a few overpays will make for a fun season.

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#6 LinkfromHyrule
July 05 2013, 09:50AM
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great! Now we can stop talking about signing goaltenders already. Mighta been happier with khudobin, but I think dubnyk deserves another season to prove himself. I have a feeling this will be a great year for him.

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#7 Ducey
July 05 2013, 09:50AM
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Willis,

Any way to adjust for the defense Labarbera played behind in PHX? A .923 save % is great, but I would think he would be hard pressed to repeat that in EDM.

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#8 RexLibris
July 05 2013, 09:52AM
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This approach is exactly what I want the Oilers to do today - let other teams trip over themselves chasing a whale here and there, and meanwhile solidify the bottom six, backup goaltending with the best support players available on value contracts.

While I would like to see the Oilers add someone like Filppula and/or Clarkson, I don't want them to lose out on those players and squander any opportunity to improve roster depth.

They need to pay attention to getting on base while still looking for the homerun single.

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#9 rob
July 05 2013, 09:53AM
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great signing,gives us more reliable goaltending,fix our defence to help goalies more and we are good

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#11 Mikey
July 05 2013, 10:03AM
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Boyd Gordon should be their next target.

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#12 RJ
July 05 2013, 10:08AM
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MacT had a solid draft. This is solid signing for a solid backup. Too bad MacT didn't say he was going to be solid instead of reading 100 posts saying "that's not BOLD".

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#13 BingBong
July 05 2013, 10:08AM
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Did we get Ference? Is it official?

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#14 Ducey
July 05 2013, 10:09AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I don't really believe that Tippett has a massive impact on goalies, and here's why.

Thanks

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#15 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
July 05 2013, 10:11AM
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@BingBong

I haven't heard anything yet, do you know something I don't?

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#16 OilersBrass
July 05 2013, 10:12AM
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Just got Ference

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#17 Reg Dunlop
July 05 2013, 10:12AM
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Ference becomes an instant top 2 here. Me like.

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#18 oilman3
July 05 2013, 10:13AM
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sportsnet just announced oilers got ferrence. no details about terms. hopefully it's true. solid pickup.

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#19 G Money
July 05 2013, 10:13AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I don't really believe that Tippett has a massive impact on goalies, and here's why.

Hey JW, is it fair game to link to your own article at another site??

Actually, that is a solid piece of work, nicely done. Certainly convincing to me that the Tippett/Bryz/Smith situation is random variation, not a pattern.

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#20 BingBong
July 05 2013, 10:13AM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

I haven't heard anything yet, do you know something I don't?

Just a lot of people giving me the scoop. ;-)

Gotta like this signing; basically a Jason Smith clone.

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#21 OilersBrass
July 05 2013, 10:15AM
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@oilman3

4 year 13 mill

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#22 number99
July 05 2013, 10:16AM
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Link to sportnet with Ference signing:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/signings/

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#23 oilman3
July 05 2013, 10:17AM
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OilersBrass wrote:

4 year 13 mill

oh yeah? thanks. i've been trying to track down details but no luck. sounds like a pretty reasonable deal.

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#24 oliveoilers
July 05 2013, 10:20AM
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yay, no overpay!

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#25 BingBong
July 05 2013, 10:23AM
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Apparenlty close to getting B Gordon?

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#26 OilersBrass
July 05 2013, 10:25AM
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oilman3 wrote:

oh yeah? thanks. i've been trying to track down details but no luck. sounds like a pretty reasonable deal.

I'm not to sure why they chose a 4 year contract, the guy is already 34.

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#27 Dave
July 05 2013, 10:26AM
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oliveoilers wrote:

yay, no overpay!

No, just an overstay.

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#28 jl
July 05 2013, 10:27AM
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@OilersBrass

Sounds like an overpay, 3.25 mill for a 3rd pairing D.

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#29 Lochenzo
July 05 2013, 10:27AM
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Boo yeah! Looking great so far. Only wish I could see these guys hitting the ice tomorrow.

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#30 Lochenzo
July 05 2013, 10:28AM
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@jl

Ference plays top 4 minutes on a deep Bruins defence.

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#31 oilerjed
July 05 2013, 10:33AM
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After ooking at the Oilers website can I just say how little class they are showing with the Horcoff story headline. Im as happy as the nect guy to see him gone but he was still an oiler for over a decade and the reigning captain. Seems like they are touting Larsen when they should be saying goodbye to Horc.

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#32 DevoKnows
July 05 2013, 10:33AM
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jl wrote:

Sounds like an overpay, 3.25 mill for a 3rd pairing D.

Ference is a TOP 2 defense right now on this Edmonton Team Excellent signing!!!

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#33 G Money
July 05 2013, 10:34AM
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I *think* I like this signing.

It is of course an overpay, like every UFA signing will be. 3 yrs x 2.75M would probably have been closer to fair value.

They do get a guy who was a legit top 4 guy - actually, top 3 considering he's playing behind Chara who no-one is going to displace as #1 - on a defensively sound contender. He should add stability, experience, and 'grit' to the group.

It does give us a legit top 4 (Smid, Petry, Ference, Schultz Sr) in our necessary defense-by-committee approach. It pushes Schultz Jr to 3rd pairing role and makes a year of the AHL for Klefbom more likely, both of which are good things.

The big concern is how far along Ference is on the inevitable career downslide. If we can get just one really solid year and at least a year or two of capable 3rd pairing work after that, that should be enough to let the next wave of prospects and future signings get into the lineup.

If he's already slid out of top 4 capability, this contract becomes an albatross.

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#34 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
July 05 2013, 10:34AM
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Philly signs Emery to the surprise of no one. Now's the time to move in, MacT

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#35 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 10:35AM
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According to TSN - Oilers making a big push for Boyd Gordon.

Ference is a great deal for the team, maybe one year too long (if we are going to debate anything) but perfect amount of money.

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#36 OilersBrass
July 05 2013, 10:36AM
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Just signed Gordon as well, 3 year deal

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#37 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 10:37AM
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Gordon to Edmonton, boom!

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#38 Fresh Mess
July 05 2013, 10:37AM
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Gordon is a good signing if the dollar is reasonable.

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#39 Top Cheddar
July 05 2013, 10:38AM
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Great signing for Gordon. Waiting on term and $...

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#40 Cody anderson
July 05 2013, 10:39AM
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Good pickup, reasonable price point. Term is long for an older player.

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#41 Oiler Fan in Mazatlan
July 05 2013, 10:40AM
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Ference? That is the solution to the D? BRUTAL! He is 34 years old...and 5'10" 185lbs. He was able to play in the non-physical Eastern Conference but will find the physical Western conference tough. Four years at 3.25 each...wow! This is the shakeup MacT promised? Deal away Horc for basically nothing and then overspend on an undersized D-Man. His agent said the Oilers "tabled the best offer by far and this allows Andrew to return home". Once again the Oilers overpay.

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#42 Oiler Fan in Mazatlan
July 05 2013, 10:40AM
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Ference? That is the solution to the D? BRUTAL! He is 34 years old...and 5'10" 185lbs. He was able to play in the non-physical Eastern Conference but will find the physical Western conference tough. Four years at 3.25 each...wow! This is the shakeup MacT promised? Deal away Horc for basically nothing and then overspend on an undersized D-Man. His agent said the Oilers "tabled the best offer by far and this allows Andrew to return home". Once again the Oilers overpay.

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#43 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
July 05 2013, 10:41AM
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@Oiler Fan in Mazatlan

Your evaluation of the horcoff trade is suspect. Everyone pegged that contract as untradeable

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#44 Yakman
July 05 2013, 10:42AM
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I went to High School with Andrew Ference. Did a project with him in grade 10 social studies. He is a Sherwood Park kid and was an oilers fan. He is a good guy, good sense of humor, works hard.

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#45 Cody anderson
July 05 2013, 10:43AM
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Any word on Jagr?

I would assume it would have to be a huge overpay, but a 3rd line with Paajarvi and Jagr as the wingers sounds pretty sweet!

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#46 Top Cheddar
July 05 2013, 10:43AM
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Ference brings competitiveness and a culture change professionally speaking for this young team. Term is long for an older player but MacT had to do so to win over other teams.

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#47 oliveoilers
July 05 2013, 10:43AM
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to all you Debbie downers: This guy has been a constant on a very, very good hockey team. And you thought we'd sign him for what? Pay peanuts, get monkies. What the hell more do you want? Sid, Geni and Letang straight across for our AHL prospects and all locked in to 7 yrs @ 1mill a year? Honestly, if some of you were given a million dollars, you'd complain it was all in fifties. There is a fine line between the realistic, pragmatist approach you think you are portraying and the cynical for cynical's sake which is how you're actually coming across.

It is actually refreshing to have a glass of Kool-Aid once in a while......oh, yeah!

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#48 OilersBrass
July 05 2013, 10:44AM
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Everyone complains about how Mac T doesn't do anything right away, then he starts signing some players and people still complain. GTFO

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#49 Oiler Fan in Mazatlan
July 05 2013, 10:45AM
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@JNH...and MacT proved it was untradeable by what he got in return. Every contract is tradeable if you are willing to take enough crap back. Canucks had offers for Luongo's brutal deal just weren't willing to pull the trigger on a crappy deal.

Big question...with Horc gone. And Larsen here...are the Oilers a better team? No way.

Then add Ference...does that break them into the playoffs? Still don't see it.

Very disappointed in the Oilers moves so far today.

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#50 oilerjed
July 05 2013, 10:45AM
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Oiler Fan in Mazatlan wrote:

Ference? That is the solution to the D? BRUTAL! He is 34 years old...and 5'10" 185lbs. He was able to play in the non-physical Eastern Conference but will find the physical Western conference tough. Four years at 3.25 each...wow! This is the shakeup MacT promised? Deal away Horc for basically nothing and then overspend on an undersized D-Man. His agent said the Oilers "tabled the best offer by far and this allows Andrew to return home". Once again the Oilers overpay.

Damn for a guy in Mazatlan you should be happier. Try taking a nice long swim to clear your head. Watch the horizon and just keep swimming.

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