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, 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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#1 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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#2 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
July 05 2013, 09:36AM
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Ye olde double poste

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#3 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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#4 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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#5 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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#6 DevoKnows
July 05 2013, 10:48AM
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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.

Dude, do you actually watch hockey?

Your saying Boston is NOT physical??

In a perfect world 2-3yr deal is what you strive for, Ference has earned his "stripes" though, and with 2 kids, can demand at least 4 yrs of stability (probably has a no trade too)

McT has done more this week than Tambi ever did!!!

Go Oilers Go!!!!!!

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#7 G Money
July 05 2013, 10:50AM
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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.

You are shocked that the Oilers overpaid? Is this because you feel:

- a top 4 D playing 19+ minutes a night (24+ mins in the playoffs) on a Stanley Cup finalist is never going to garner the competitive interest of GMs as to allow for any sort of a bidding war

or

- the Oilers are such a good team and Edmonton is such an appealing large market warm weather city that UFAs (and their spouses) will always take a discount to play here

or

- Free Agency season in general is a time of year when GMs and players work together so that every team can get exactly the players it needs at the best possible prices

Or maybe a combo of those three? Yeah, I'm with you there brother.

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#8 oliveoilers
July 05 2013, 11:22AM
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My troll radar is going ballistic!

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#9 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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#10 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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#11 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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#12 Mikey
July 05 2013, 10:03AM
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Boyd Gordon should be their next target.

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

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#14 TonyT
July 05 2013, 10:46AM
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Ference, Gordon, and LaBarbera already. MacT packed a lunch and is going to work.

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#15 bazmagoo
July 05 2013, 10:53AM
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TonyT wrote:

Ference, Gordon, and LaBarbera already. MacT packed a lunch and is going to work.

MacT is making me a happy guy today, all 3 signings are a good fit and not over pays.

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#16 oliveoilers
July 05 2013, 10:59AM
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looks like MacT is trying to make happy hour at the Pint....

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#17 DevoKnows
July 05 2013, 11:25AM
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Oiler Fan in Mazatlan wrote:

Actually his NHL Record indicates 21 NHL Fighting majors...thats pretty close to 30. I know the entire Eastern Conference breathed a sigh of relief when Andy left...they were so worried that they would have to drop the gloves against him. Three of those majors were in the past three years. At least he will be a good dressing room guy.

Dude just looked it up, 32 fights in his career. 2 suspensions in the last couple of years for rough play!

I'm not saying he's the most physical player, just saying he "holds his own". My REAL point was how absurd your original comment was. Ference is a HUGE help to this team!!! Edmonton is a MUCH better team on paper than they were a week ago!!! Get with the program!!!

Go Oilers Go !!!

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#18 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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#19 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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#20 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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#21 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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#23 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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#24 BingBong
July 05 2013, 10:08AM
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Did we get Ference? Is it official?

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#25 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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#26 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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#27 OilersBrass
July 05 2013, 10:12AM
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Just got Ference

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

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#29 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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#30 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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#31 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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#32 OilersBrass
July 05 2013, 10:15AM
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@oilman3

4 year 13 mill

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#33 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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#34 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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#35 oliveoilers
July 05 2013, 10:20AM
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yay, no overpay!

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#36 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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#37 Dave
July 05 2013, 10:26AM
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oliveoilers wrote:

yay, no overpay!

No, just an overstay.

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#38 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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#39 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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#40 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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#41 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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#42 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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#43 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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#44 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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#45 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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#46 OilersBrass
July 05 2013, 10:36AM
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Just signed Gordon as well, 3 year deal

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

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#48 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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#49 Top Cheddar
July 05 2013, 10:38AM
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Great signing for Gordon. Waiting on term and $...

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#50 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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