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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#1 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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#2 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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#3 Josh Oiler
February 04 2014, 07:14PM
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"PLAY BAD FOR EKBLAD"

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#4 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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#5 tileguy
February 04 2014, 09:43PM
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Only way oilers get a tandem for 4 mil is Scrivens at 6.4 and Bachman at .6

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#6 Serious Gord
February 04 2014, 09:52PM
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Robin:

Not a big believer that either would make it as a starter on any half-a$$ed decent team.

What about cam ward?

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#7 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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#8 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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#11 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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#12 tileguy
February 04 2014, 09:45PM
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3.4 wish i knew how to edit

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#14 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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#16 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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#17 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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#18 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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#19 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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#20 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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#21 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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#22 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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#23 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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#24 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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#25 **
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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#26 Rod from Viking
February 04 2014, 10:01PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Robin:

Not a big believer that either would make it as a starter on any half-a$$ed decent team.

What about cam ward?

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.

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#27 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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#28 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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#29 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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#30 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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#31 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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#32 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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#33 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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#34 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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#35 Rod from Viking
February 04 2014, 10:09PM
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@Serious Gord

Waiving for anywhere?

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#36 Serious Gord
February 04 2014, 11:21PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

Waiving for anywhere?

No idea.

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#37 madjam
February 05 2014, 06:38AM
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Our newest tandem seems fine and competent to go forward with into next season , and likely a raise is due them both . Not like we have goalies clamouring to come join our team . Both seem capable of stealing the odd game as well , which is more than can be said of last tandem . We can probably get both for less than say a Miller , etc.. No goalie right now is going to have much success here until our defence picks up . Verdict : Keep them both and use savings on defence for next season .

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#39 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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#40 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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#41 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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#42 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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#43 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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#44 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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#45 srelio
February 04 2014, 10:29PM
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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.

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#46 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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#47 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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#48 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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#49 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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#50 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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