Well, we’ve seen the first real trade of the Steve Tambellini era. In a time where NHL goaltenders are being dropped for nothing on the waiver wire (Sanford) or garnering no more than a 7th round pick (Labarbera), Tambellini actually managed to bring in a decent return. Here’s the trade:
To Pittsburgh: Mathieu Garon
To Edmonton: Dany Sabourin, Ryan Stone, 4th Round Pick
First, from Pittsburgh’s perspective, they obviously believe that Garon has the potential to play better than he has this past season. Garon had a strong game last night against Colorado, and started the year well, but there has been obvious friction between him and the coaching staff, especially goaltending coach Pete Peeters. Pittsburgh’s struggled with poor goaltending all season; Marc-Andre Fleury’s .905 SV% isn’t nearly as good as it needs to be, while veteran backup Dany Sabourin is four games below .500 and has an .898 SV%. Garon is in the final season of a two-year, 1.1M/season contract, and although he’s posted a .895 SV% this season, the past two years he’s had a .907 SV% and .913 SV%. This is a good opportunity for Garon to get back on track on a very talented team.
As far as I can tell, Dany Sabourin is on a one-way contract, albeit one that will pay him a very modest 512K this season, which is its final year. I think that he is sent down to Springfield, where he should help spell the extremely over-worked Devan Dubnyk, and solidify Springfield’s goaltending situation. Sabourin’s an average NHL backup (hovering around the .900 SV% mark the last three seasons) but he’s been excellent in the AHL, topping the .920 SV% mark his last three seasons there. By comparison, Dubnyk’s played nearly every game for Springfield, posting a .903 SV% this season. Additionally, Sabourin serves as built in insurance if Jeff Deslauriers falters over more games.
Ryan Stone is the key player coming back. He was a second-round pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, and likely would have been picked higher if not for a concussion that affected his season. Here’s what the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said about him after his selection:
Stone explained his resume in similar terms. Asked how many of his two dozen fights he had lost, he replied: “I haven’t lost too many.”
Despite narrowly missing being a first-round pick, Stone is a project. His top priority, as he allowed, is improving his skating, a common criticism among scouts.
Stone is viewed as a player in the mold of Brad May or Darren McCarty, owning the potential to develop his skills to a respectable level and having the edge to create enough room for himself to make it happen. He is versatile, having spent time on left wing and the power-play point. He also has been praised for helping Brandon win at least two playoff rounds in each of his two years there.
Stone is a restricted free agent after this season. He hasn’t scored at a high level in the AHL; back in 2006-07 he was on pace for his best season offensively when a nasty hand injury forced him out of the line-up. He is a very physical player, not shy about fighting, and is widely regarded as a two-way forward.
The 4th round pick is, as Lowetide says “another bullet in the gun”, but by itself it is a better return than Los Angeles got for the very comparable Jason Labarbera.
The only way I can see this trade is as a hands-down win for the Edmonton Oilers, and also for Mathieu Garon. Anybody who thought they were going to get more than this is greatly overvaluing Garon; in fact, if you’d told me yesterday that this trade was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed it.