BRYZGALOV AND SCRIVENS: TANDEM?

Robin Brownlee
February 04 2014 06:18PM

The Edmonton Oilers could start next season with Ben Scrivens and Ilya Bryzgalov as their goaltenders. They could wind up with neither of them. Split it down the middle, and they'll end up with one or the other.

The uncertainty in the goal crease, of course, is because Scrivens and Bryzgalov are pending unrestricted free agents and will be free to sign wherever they choose after considering their options (or lack of same) on the UFA checklist – money, an opportunity to play, the chance to win, lifestyle.

It's a dicey situation for GM Craig MacTavish because of the uncertainty that comes with the UFA wildcard and because he's dealing with two distinctly different players at different points in their careers, not to mention a whole bunch of questions regarding both of them.

Big-name hunting via trade or free agency notwithstanding -- and not having to figure out the answers to those questions from the comfort of my armchair -- I wouldn't mind seeing both of them back in 2014-15.

ABOUT BEN . . .

At 27, Scrivens is at a point in his career where he has to establish himself as a bonafide NHL starter or risk fading into the ranks of career back-ups, who don't get the money or the marquee time starters do. He's getting that chance now after stops in Toronto and Los Angeles and has so far made the most of it.

In five games behind the NHL's most porous defensive corps, Scrivens has fashioned a .944 saves-percentage and a 2.21 goals-against average, including a record 59-save shutout. He's likely already got MacTavish and boss Kevin Lowe bouncing contract numbers off each other. What would it take?

Unless the wheels fall right off, Scrivens is looking at a substantial raise from the $625,000 he'll earn this season. How much of a raise and how much term is the question. Another question, will Scrivens want to earn that money and get that term here or elsewhere? What's out there?

Even if Scrivens falls off that gaudy .944, which is likely, he and agent Jay Fee will have options. While it's likely Scrivens will command an overpay here because the Oilers are devoid of blue-chip goaltending prospects, what about opportunity to win, what about lifestyle?

THEN, THERE'S BRYZ

I wasn't big on signing Bryzgalov – I think I called him a kook – but he's looked decent through 18 appearances behind that horrid Edmonton defensive group for a guy whose phone didn’t ring until the Oilers came calling. He's .907 with a 3.15 GAA.

If Bryzgalov, 33, has been any kind of distraction around the dressing room, which was a knock on him in Philadelphia, where the Flyers paid him millions to just go away, I haven’t read or heard anything about it.

Bryzgalov has made more than $35 million playing goal in the NHL during his career, but if he wants to keep playing, at least in this league, he can't afford any missteps. He's got more hockey behind him than in front of him. Stop pucks. Be a good teammate. Keep bizarre in check. So far, so good.

I don’t think there's another GM out there who sees Bryzgalov as a starter moving forward. Can he be happy taking a marginal pay cut on his $2 million salary as a back-up? If the answer is yes, will he and agent Ritch Winter be willing to talk about plying his trade here in that role for the team that saved him from a scrap heap?

IS IT A FIT?

Scrivens has just 56 career NHL games in the books, so there's risk when it comes to paying him like a proven starter. Of course, that applies to other GMs who might be interested as well. Even if he gets the bulk of the work the rest of the way, Scrivens will have played less than 75 NHL games when it's time to talk money.

The high-water mark for Scrivens in terms of games played in a season as a pro is 51 (he played 39 with the AHL Marlies and 12 with the Maple Leafs in 2011-12). I'm not saying he can't play more than that, only that he hasn't.

That's where I see a fit as back-up for Bryzgalov, who looks more capable of playing 20-25 games a season than Nikolai Khabibulin was when he arrived in town older and injury-prone -- with a sweet four-year deal from Steve Tambellini in his back pocket.

We'll hear bigger names than Scrivens or Bryzgalov thrown around as potential targets for MacTavish this off-season, and that's understandable, but I think they could work as a tandem. The caveat, of course, is that MacTavish does something about the defensive group playing in front of whoever is tending the twine.

That's an item that's already been written countless times and will be again.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Johnny
February 05 2014, 07:53AM
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Oilbridge wrote:

Have you every thought that the reason why Brz is getting starts is to showcase him to other teams looking for goaltending depth? Perhaps MacT can flip him at the deadline for assets? Other teams can't scout him while sitting on the bench!

He's a 33 year old goalie with 8 years in the league. I think teams pretty much know what they are going to get...

On the other hand, Scrivens agent has no reason not to demand 3M+ with his client sitting atop the goaltending stats charts. He's a UFA, he can demand whatever he wants. If the Oilers don't meet the demands, they go the free agency. The Oilers are so desperate, there is a major over pay that is going to happen here(as per usual).

Not playing Scrivens is ridiculous!

Now putting Gagner constantly on the ice for trading purposes I can understand. What a waste of an asset THAT was....

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#52 Rob...
February 05 2014, 07:53AM
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Contracts should consist of a league minimum base salary, with performance based bonuses. I'm sick of paying top wages for potential, or poor effort, ability and attitude. Of course this is completely unlikely to ever come to fruition. I'd have better luck of successfully clicking my heals together while chanting "there's no place like Heff's" and getting teleported to the Grotto.

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#53 Darrell
February 05 2014, 08:25AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Let's stop using Josh Oiler's asinine ramblings in comments. He's left the building and isn't coming back.

Robin, This site reminds me of the sh!tshow Oiler organization that owns our hockey hearts. Oiler hater DSF dicks around this site pissing me and other Oilers fans off and we beg for a ban. I now read you're picking on Gino's so called buddies who is an Oilers fan because he hurt your feelings. Ever been a coach or GM as you have all the right traits to take this gong show to a new level ....

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#54 S cottV
February 05 2014, 08:29AM
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If somehow MacT can come up with 2 vet d men for the first rotations and a 2C, then go for a home run on an unquestioned top goaltender.

Otherwise - if we have to wait for development on the d corps, don't waste the money and go with Scrivens, at more reasonable cost.

If we can get Bryz - as well at 1b money, go for it.

Anyone that can deliver better than .905 with Oiler systems, can play the position.

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#55 Dave
February 05 2014, 08:37AM
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"where the Flyers paid him millions to just go away"

A lot of people have been remembering the Bryzgalov story this way, but I feel like that is kind of a spin that was put on it after the fact. The way I remember it Philly was a team that liked to be in on every single big deal and grossly overpaid for a goalie that was benefiting from a solid Dave Tippet defense in Phoenix. He didn't solve all of Philly's problems instantly like they hoped (Philly is tough on goalies) and then they had a huge contract they had to dump. All of this stuff like "He was a distraction" still seems like garbage. As far as goalies go he's almost normal.

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#56 michael
February 05 2014, 08:52AM
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A-Mc wrote:

If the money is minimal, I think scrivens and Bryz will do just fine.

This team wouldn't be much better with Luongo in net; not until D is sorted out. With out proper Defense, I think it would be a mistake to pay 6M/yr for a ufa starter. Priority #1 should be to acquire what ever D pieces you can get that will improve the team.

Could this make any more sense. Dead on.Fix the defense first.

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#57 Sisyphus
February 05 2014, 08:57AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

"Seemingly ignored issue here is how likely it is that one, or both, would even be willing to come back to Edmonton?"

-- The uncertainty in the goal crease, of course, is because Scrivens and Bryzgalov are pending unrestricted free agents and will be free to sign wherever they choose after considering their options (or lack of same) on the UFA checklist – money, an opportunity to play, the chance to win, lifestyle.

-- Another question, will Scrivens want to earn that money and get that term here or elsewhere? What's out there? . . . what about opportunity to win, what about lifestyle?

-- The caveat, of course, is that MacTavish does something about the defensive group playing in front of whoever is tending the twine.

Ignored? How so?

Should have been more clear. NOT ignored in the article itself. Ignored in many of the commentaries here, but not the article. The article notes these issues, you are right.

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#58 camdog
February 05 2014, 09:00AM
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I can't see Bryzgalof sticking around in E-town as a back up. He wants to be a starter, if he's going to stick around as a back up it won't be here.

As for Scrivens he's a UFA. I hope he's not a Brian Burke guy, some players have a sense of loyalty towards Burkie, they need a goalie as well. If DD signed for 3.5 a few years back, can't see Scrivens getting less than 4.

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#59 Sisyphus
February 05 2014, 09:00AM
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S cottV wrote:

If somehow MacT can come up with 2 vet d men for the first rotations and a 2C, then go for a home run on an unquestioned top goaltender.

Otherwise - if we have to wait for development on the d corps, don't waste the money and go with Scrivens, at more reasonable cost.

If we can get Bryz - as well at 1b money, go for it.

Anyone that can deliver better than .905 with Oiler systems, can play the position.

What makes you think Scrivens will be willing to sign in Edmonton for a "reasonable cost"? If he keeps playing like he has been, he'll have other offers. Its going to take more than being the starter to keep him here. Oilers will either have to overpay to keep him here (and even that might not be enough to get him to stay behind this mess), or they'll have to hope he starts to tank, making him more affordable and more likely to stay here (at which point--do you really want to sign him anyways)?

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#60 mayorblaine
February 05 2014, 09:23AM
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Bryzgalov isn't an answer to anything, now or later. trade if you can and don't re-sign if you can't.

as much as I want to believe Scrivens can be the answer, if there is a legitmate top 10 goalie out there to get (price pending), you do it.

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#61 DieHard
February 05 2014, 09:38AM
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I like the style of play that Scrivens provides. He's more reflexive and less positional like Dubnyk was. Not that he's out of position but that's what Dubnyk was all about. He's from the area. He knows the town. Offer the Dubnyk deal 2 years 7 million. See what we got. Goalie's are always a risk.

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#62 Oasis
February 05 2014, 09:53AM
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slats wrote:

On the first question would the Oilers be fine with BryzScrivens? On Scrivens I say the answer is yes 2.50 GAA and 920 SV% for his NHL body of work. Albeit some portion with the stingy Kings but also big piece with the shot-happy Leafs.

Bryz? I think he will or should be traded at deadline. Why because someone will need depth and they will lose one goalie to injury and he is leaving Edmonton is my guess regardless. I also think he does not add anything. Room guy? All we say is I hope he doesn't go "whacko". Mentor? Maybe but there are better.

Second question though is the tough one - How much? Scrivens has only 124 nhl games! To me that spells short term deal, otherwise we are rewarding a UFA with no substance and a 1 game 59 shot SO. We already overpaid one of our forwards for a 1 game performance let's not do it again.

Lets not forget that we also overpaid a bunch of players after the Cup run too. I wouldn't be the least surprised if the Oilers did it again.

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#63 Oasis
February 05 2014, 10:08AM
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camdog wrote:

I can't see Bryzgalof sticking around in E-town as a back up. He wants to be a starter, if he's going to stick around as a back up it won't be here.

As for Scrivens he's a UFA. I hope he's not a Brian Burke guy, some players have a sense of loyalty towards Burkie, they need a goalie as well. If DD signed for 3.5 a few years back, can't see Scrivens getting less than 4.

His time as a starter has come and gone. The only was he is starting anywhere is by default (injury). If he thinks he is signing anywhere to be a starter then he really is crazy.

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#64 S cottV
February 05 2014, 10:11AM
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Sisyphus wrote:

What makes you think Scrivens will be willing to sign in Edmonton for a "reasonable cost"? If he keeps playing like he has been, he'll have other offers. Its going to take more than being the starter to keep him here. Oilers will either have to overpay to keep him here (and even that might not be enough to get him to stay behind this mess), or they'll have to hope he starts to tank, making him more affordable and more likely to stay here (at which point--do you really want to sign him anyways)?

Scrivens is not an unquestioned #1, so I would assume the price point to acquire him would be a step down and represent reasonable cost and less term.

Still expensive and a risk but MacT better have someone between the pipes nailed down.

Without the d corp ready to deliver, don't jump in at unquestioned #1 money and term.

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#65 Robin Brownlee
February 05 2014, 10:13AM
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Darrell wrote:

Robin, This site reminds me of the sh!tshow Oiler organization that owns our hockey hearts. Oiler hater DSF dicks around this site pissing me and other Oilers fans off and we beg for a ban. I now read you're picking on Gino's so called buddies who is an Oilers fan because he hurt your feelings. Ever been a coach or GM as you have all the right traits to take this gong show to a new level ....

"Hurt my feelings?" No.

Did you read the posts that got "Josh Oiler" blocked? No, you didn't as they were removed within minutes of being posted.

Nobody, including "Josh Oiler" gets to make homophobic remarks here or suggest that anybody who calls him out for stupid remarks -- as one poster did -- is "licking Brownlee's balls."

If DSF or anybody else does that they're gone, and gone for good, too -- if that's OK with you.

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#66 Sal-Sational
February 05 2014, 10:19AM
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Agreed.. Sign em both!!

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#67 tileguy
February 05 2014, 10:28AM
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Sal-Sational wrote:

Agreed.. Sign em both!!

Yes we can sign them both on one year contracts but it will cost us, I bet in the neighborhood of $5.5 mil.

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#68 camdog
February 05 2014, 10:40AM
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Oasis wrote:

His time as a starter has come and gone. The only was he is starting anywhere is by default (injury). If he thinks he is signing anywhere to be a starter then he really is crazy.

I think we are saying the same thing. He came to Edmonton to be the default starter as DD played so bad to start the season. He didn't come here to be a back up. If he's going to be a back up goalie, it isn't going to be in Edmonton.

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#69 Tikkanese
February 05 2014, 11:28AM
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Air on Egg blood wrote:

I wonder what our season would've looked like if MacT had signed Khudobin instead of Labarbera last summer. He was younger and had been groomed in the Bruins organisation, one of the best. And he signed for dirt cheap too. Just sayin'.

I and many others said Khudobin should have been the prime target for the Oilers.

But if that happened, we would have missed MacT's only bold move of signing Bryz. It may or may not have worked out, but it was pretty bold given his off ice history.

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#70 yegCopywriter
February 05 2014, 11:35AM
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Surprised people are comparing Scrivens' upcoming contract to Dubnyk's last one.

Dubnyk had transitioned into a #1 goalie with a .500 record on a bad team and stats that put him at the middle of the pack of NHL starters. At the time, most people were guessing around $3M/year for 3 years and he got $3.5M/year for 2 years.

While Scrivens' stats are excellent in a small sample size this year, he has yet to be a starter. He could probably seek out "1B" money and term—something like $2M/year for 3 years—a very healthy raise over $625,000/year.

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#71 Tikkanese
February 05 2014, 11:56AM
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I'm seeing some hate for Debrusk on this board. Am I the only one that likes him? It might be the stink of Kevin Quinn that taints Debrusk somewhat to you guys. Compared to Peplinski and all the other horrible color guys we've had in the past, Debrusk is great.

It could be worse though guys. Think Rob Kerr and Charlie Simmer.

The dream team would be if we could steal Mike Emrick from NBC and Ray Ferraro from TSN for Oiler broadcasts. Make that happen, Katz.

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#72 Tikkanese
February 05 2014, 12:28PM
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.

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#73 camdog
February 05 2014, 12:43PM
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yegCopywriter wrote:

Surprised people are comparing Scrivens' upcoming contract to Dubnyk's last one.

Dubnyk had transitioned into a #1 goalie with a .500 record on a bad team and stats that put him at the middle of the pack of NHL starters. At the time, most people were guessing around $3M/year for 3 years and he got $3.5M/year for 2 years.

While Scrivens' stats are excellent in a small sample size this year, he has yet to be a starter. He could probably seek out "1B" money and term—something like $2M/year for 3 years—a very healthy raise over $625,000/year.

Ya you might be right on that. My thinking was that the cap had just gone up. Seeing as the Oilers gave DD about 1 million per season more than he was worth at the time and our contracts division hasn't changed in a number of years, I'm sort of expecting an over pay.

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#74 loweblows
February 05 2014, 01:53PM
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In the spirit of Robins latest post regarding Josh Oiler, to be less offensive I will furthermore be known as Bi Poiler. And I still don't like Eakins regardless of name.

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#75 Taylor Gang
February 05 2014, 02:02PM
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Tikkanese wrote:

I'm seeing some hate for Debrusk on this board. Am I the only one that likes him? It might be the stink of Kevin Quinn that taints Debrusk somewhat to you guys. Compared to Peplinski and all the other horrible color guys we've had in the past, Debrusk is great.

It could be worse though guys. Think Rob Kerr and Charlie Simmer.

The dream team would be if we could steal Mike Emrick from NBC and Ray Ferraro from TSN for Oiler broadcasts. Make that happen, Katz.

Ferraro used to work for SN with Kevin.

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#76 MessyEH
February 05 2014, 03:48PM
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loweblows wrote:

In the spirit of Robins latest post regarding Josh Oiler, to be less offensive I will furthermore be known as Bi Poiler. And I still don't like Eakins regardless of name.

BiPoiler is an awesome name. Ups and downs. Mostly down. .

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.Way Down.

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#77 Spydyr
February 05 2014, 07:27PM
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So what will it cost to sign Scrivens three million for him ,two million for his wife to stay?

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#78 Darrell
February 06 2014, 04:44AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

"Hurt my feelings?" No.

Did you read the posts that got "Josh Oiler" blocked? No, you didn't as they were removed within minutes of being posted.

Nobody, including "Josh Oiler" gets to make homophobic remarks here or suggest that anybody who calls him out for stupid remarks -- as one poster did -- is "licking Brownlee's balls."

If DSF or anybody else does that they're gone, and gone for good, too -- if that's OK with you.

I apologize as there was more to the story - Keep up the good work and don't put up with any anti-Oiler sh!t from DSF if you don't mind me asking.

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#79 Spydyr
February 06 2014, 04:49AM
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Everyone has their own views. Some will differ from yours.That does not make them as you so elegantly put it $hit.

Chill and enjoy the discussion.

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#80 The Nuuuuuuuuuuuuge
February 06 2014, 09:37AM
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I would rather like a tandem with Scrivens and one of Anaheims goalies! They have 4 (!!!) very good goalies in Hiller, Andersen, Fasth and Gibson.

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