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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#3 Danger Pay
February 04 2014, 07:24PM
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Josh Oiler wrote:

I've said it before and I'll say it again,

WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO DRAFT MALCOLM SUBBAN!!!

Future VEZINA trophy winner!

MALCOLM SUBBAN.

I mean Klefbom is starting to look like a BUST!

MALCOLM SUBBAN!

Troll

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#4 Randaman
February 04 2014, 07:40PM
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Josh Oiler wrote:

I'm actually close personal friends with Gene Principe.

That makes sense. A fine pair of clowns you two are. You just cleared up a lot of questions a lot of us have. Now go back to your crayons and let the adults have intelligent conversation. That will do donkey, that will do...

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#6 dougtheslug
February 04 2014, 11:31PM
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Here's an interesting thing to consider. Assume Scrivens and Bryz had been playing for the Oil from the beginning of the season, and hypothetically, had been playing as well as they have played over the time they have been the Oilers tandem.

Assume, then, they win the 5 or 6 games that Duby and Labarbera alone cost them. Assume, as well that they win by themselves 4 or 5 more games (which isn't a stretch, seeing as how they have arguably won 3 or 4 already by themselves).

That's an 18-22 point swing in the standings, which would put the Oil squarely in the playoff race.

Now here is the problem. Would that have papered over the horrific problems in all aspects of the Oilers game, and convinced management they were on the right track?

I'm hearing Stauffer crowing that the Oilers have won 4 of 5. But does any sane Oiler fan believe the ship is righted? Amazing what a mirage good goaltending can create.

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#7 Oilbridge
February 04 2014, 07:43PM
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@Johnny

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!

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#8 Dakota
February 04 2014, 07:30PM
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My best guess for Scrivens is that his next deal has a term of 2-3 yrs and a salary of around 1.5-2 mill. How can you pay him any more than that with the question marks that surround his future consistency? And how can you pay him any less if his current numbers stay even remotely intact? Personally I'd love to see him back in an Oilers sweater on a deal similar to what I just mentioned. As an Oiler fan, how can you not be intrigued by how he's played this season, particularly in the orange and blue.

As for Bryzgalov, is he any more than a solid backup at this point? I think he'd be lucky to make the 2 million he's making now. If he settles for a back-up type contract I wouldn't mind seeing him back next year.

We've won 4 of the last 5 while being brutally out shot, thanks to Ben and Bryz, so it should be interesting to see if they can keep it up as a tandem after the olympic break.

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#9 Randaman
February 04 2014, 07:43PM
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Detroit won some cups with Osgood and lots of people thought of him as a back-up or tandem guy at best.

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#10 M22
February 04 2014, 11:55PM
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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.

"Thank you!", said everybody.

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#11 Guy Lafleur
February 04 2014, 08:50PM
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Josh Oiler wrote:

I've said it before and I'll say it again,

WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO DRAFT MALCOLM SUBBAN!!!

Future VEZINA trophy winner!

MALCOLM SUBBAN.

I mean Klefbom is starting to look like a BUST!

MALCOLM SUBBAN!

the same Malcolm Subban who sieved out at the WJCs , add him to a long list of WJC goalie failures lately .

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#13 Westcoastoil
February 05 2014, 12:22AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

It's being reported that he is waiving his NTC.

I have no strong opinion either way. He's not cheap. In light of his injury prone ness he's been terrible value for the canes. If they would eat some if his contract or they would take one of the oilers loser contracts (gagner?) back perhaps it would make sense. As I understand it however the goalie market should be pretty good this summer.

I'd be terrified of bringing in Cam Ward - I think he's ridden the Conn Smyth and a weak division for years. It would be be Khabby v.2.0

Scrivens is a much better bet.

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#14 Johnny
February 04 2014, 06:29PM
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The fact Scrivens is not starting every game from now until the end of the year just adds to the list of firable offences for Eakins.

Brz has no future! We need to get Scrivens save percentage down to a realistic number so we can have realistic negotiations.

This franchise gets it wrong on pretty much EVERYTHING!

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#15 Air on Egg blood
February 04 2014, 10:27PM
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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'.

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#16 Saytalk
February 04 2014, 06:27PM
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The best goalie the Oilers will be able to sign is one that wants a legitimate shot at being the starting goalie, and is close to being one, but isn't quite good enough to be a starter on the 25 or so teams that already have a designated starter.

So the best case scenario is management signing a 1B and another 1B, and then hoping one of two plays high enough over his perceived level to provide this team with a reliable starting goalie. I agree that Scrivens and Bryzgalov are as good a shot as any at fitting the two slots.

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#17 Tim in Kelowna
February 04 2014, 07:43PM
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I like Scrivens and it would be a shame if they don't manage to extend his contract. As for Bryz... I will be disappointed if the Oilers don't land a better veteran goaltender in the offseason. But MacT needs to pick up a few dmen before he does anything or no goalie in his right mind would sign with the Oilers.

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#18 **
February 04 2014, 07:59PM
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If both goalies can be had for under 4 mill, that would be big savings that can be applied towards throwing obscene money at some useful players. I wish both goalies stayed, they seem to have figured it out as of late.

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#19 David S
February 04 2014, 08:28PM
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Josh Oiler wrote:

By banning me you lose the true integrity of the discussion. Means that this blog is worthless. Your opinion on anything Oiler hockey is worthless.

"Integrity".

Good one man.

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#20 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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#21 David S
February 04 2014, 08:27PM
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Josh Oiler wrote:

"PLAY BAD FOR EKBLAD"

INFINIBUILD™!

"...and then BAM Stanley Cup!"

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#22 A-Mc
February 04 2014, 10:18PM
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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.

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#23 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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#24 Wiesh
February 04 2014, 11:06PM
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They have to get rid of the inbreds on this rebuild, Smith, Bucky, Acton, LOWE, and bring up Nelson from the farm, He is the one who developed Petry, Marincin, Shultz, Fedun, Klefbonm. Fred Chabot has not developed one goaltender, but made many regress, I have not heard of one goalie give this guy praise.SIGH.. But none of this will happen, Inbreds stick together.

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#25 Rod from Viking
February 04 2014, 08:01PM
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Randaman wrote:

That makes sense. A fine pair of clowns you two are. You just cleared up a lot of questions a lot of us have. Now go back to your crayons and let the adults have intelligent conversation. That will do donkey, that will do...

Josh, do you have the "Kenny Powers" like doo that Geno is trying to sport now as well? If you are his friend please tell him to get a new pun writer and a hair cut. Also see if he can have a cab driver run over Harry & Lloyd(Louie&Kevin) on the next road trip.

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#26 Randaman
February 04 2014, 08:22PM
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@D-Unit

That is my point. If MacT can build some defence and improve the top six, maybe we are under rating what Scrivens has to give going forward. All starters came from somewhere. Who are we to limit his ceiling?

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#27 tileguy
February 04 2014, 09:45PM
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3.4 wish i knew how to edit

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#28 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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#29 slats
February 04 2014, 10:57PM
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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.

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#30 Butters
February 05 2014, 12:39AM
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Maybe Scrivens turns out to be the next Kiprusoff. Although for the last decade or so it seems everything the Oilers touch turns to sh*t.

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#31 Big Cap
February 05 2014, 05:34AM
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I'm not knocking Ben, because I like him and would like to keep him as a #2.

However, haven't we been down this road with an unproven mid to late 20's something unproven goaltender before in Dubnyk??

We all tried to give DD the benefit of the doubt, look at certain stats, and justify he's a #1 starter. - He clearly wasn't. At 27, Scrivens has played even less games than DD, and yet hasn't clearly proven himself as a #1 on his previous teams.

With our Defensive problems in structure, processes, etc I believe it is imperative we nail a bonafide #1 at any cost to bail us out and allow the young and upcoming D-core some slack.

**** I think back to '97 and '98 when beat Dallas and Colorado in the 1st rounds, and their is NO WAY we come even close without Cujo bailing out our young team everynight. I think we're in the same boat again. Overpay for a #1 if we need to. Its our most important position

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#32 Josh Oiler
February 04 2014, 07:14PM
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"PLAY BAD FOR EKBLAD"

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#33 D-Unit
February 04 2014, 08:07PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Chris benefitted from the line-up in front of him for sure.

The thing with Osgood was he got better when it mattered -- his career regular season saves-percentage was .905. His playoff percentage was .916 in 267 games.

Agree with the line up in front of him helping a lot, but I have always thought Osgood was under rated. The list of goalies with 400+ wins is pretty short.

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#34 Oilerz4life
February 05 2014, 02:14AM
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Sign the Professor, ditch Briz and acquire a goalie that can give the Professor some real competition.

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#36 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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#37 Oiler Al
February 04 2014, 10:29PM
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Sad to say but the only Goalies Oilers would attract will be the total rejects by the other 29 teams. Unless it is insane money, no one is going to want to play in this deranged organization.

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#38 Mason Storm
February 05 2014, 01:06AM
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dougtheslug wrote:

Here's an interesting thing to consider. Assume Scrivens and Bryz had been playing for the Oil from the beginning of the season, and hypothetically, had been playing as well as they have played over the time they have been the Oilers tandem.

Assume, then, they win the 5 or 6 games that Duby and Labarbera alone cost them. Assume, as well that they win by themselves 4 or 5 more games (which isn't a stretch, seeing as how they have arguably won 3 or 4 already by themselves).

That's an 18-22 point swing in the standings, which would put the Oil squarely in the playoff race.

Now here is the problem. Would that have papered over the horrific problems in all aspects of the Oilers game, and convinced management they were on the right track?

I'm hearing Stauffer crowing that the Oilers have won 4 of 5. But does any sane Oiler fan believe the ship is righted? Amazing what a mirage good goaltending can create.

If we are not careful. We'll start sounding like Leafs fans. They've had poor shot differential and puck possession numbers for years, but a great save percentage and they are planning a parade with every 3-4 game win streak.

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#39 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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#40 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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#41 Josh Oiler
February 04 2014, 07:06PM
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I've said it before and I'll say it again,

WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO DRAFT MALCOLM SUBBAN!!!

Future VEZINA trophy winner!

MALCOLM SUBBAN.

I mean Klefbom is starting to look like a BUST!

MALCOLM SUBBAN!

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#42 dougtheslug
February 04 2014, 11:18PM
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srelio wrote:

Anyone know what happened to ty rimmer? During the preseason he looked good and i havent heard much about him since then, not even in prospect articles. I think he signed an AHL contract here but its hard to tell since no one ever mentions him.

Playing for the Quad City Mallards of the Central Hockey League. 9-9-4 record, 2.79 GGA, ).912 save percentage

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#43 Fresh Mess
February 05 2014, 07:27AM
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Mason Storm wrote:

If we are not careful. We'll start sounding like Leafs fans. They've had poor shot differential and puck possession numbers for years, but a great save percentage and they are planning a parade with every 3-4 game win streak.

Too late. Hit that point a couple years ago.

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#44 Fresh Mess
February 05 2014, 07:33AM
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Oilerz4life wrote:

Sign the Professor, ditch Briz and acquire a goalie that can give the Professor some real competition.

I agree. Easier said than done of course.

I think the Oilers will have to roll the dice and give Scrivens a Pisani-type deal. 10 million bucks over 4 years if they want to sign him before he hits UFA.

It could turn out to be an overpay, or it could turn into a steal.

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#45 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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#46 Josh Oiler
February 04 2014, 07:12PM
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Besides.. If in Craig McTavish (best GM I the NHL) I would wait till Scrivens has a bad game.. Get Dallas Eakins to pull his ass out I the net.. Next day give him an offer of $990,000per at maybe 2 years and call it a day.

And if "The Professor" and his so called entourage reject it.. Let the man walk in the off season.

He's a career backup. Plain and simple!

Let's call a spade a spade!

Anything more than that and I will personally call for Mac Ts head!

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#47 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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#48 Serious Gord
February 04 2014, 10:06PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

It makes you wonder if he will be available, Anton Khudobin has been lights out with a 12-5 record. Ward has been hurt a lot the last couple of years, has a NTC and two more years left at $6.3mil.

It's being reported that he is waiving his NTC.

I have no strong opinion either way. He's not cheap. In light of his injury prone ness he's been terrible value for the canes. If they would eat some if his contract or they would take one of the oilers loser contracts (gagner?) back perhaps it would make sense. As I understand it however the goalie market should be pretty good this summer.

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#49 Sisyphys
February 05 2014, 06:32AM
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Seemingly ignored issue here is how likely it is that one, or both, would even be willing to come back to Edmonton? They've faced shellings every night, standing on their heads, just to give this team a remote shot. What goalie is going to willingly stay here, to face that, on their own without any sort of serviceable D?

The only way we get either one of them to stay is to overpay pretty significantly. Yes, they might be 1A here, but who wants to be 1A behind this team? I think both would rather be a 1B or even a back-up on a team where they might have a little support from the rest of the team occasionally.

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#50 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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