Oilers Sign Martin Gerber (Updated)


The Edmonton Oilers goaltending situation got a little more confused earlier today, when they brought NHL veteran Martin Gerber home after a one-year exile to the KHL. Gerber has signed a one-year, two-way contract worth $500,000 in the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL.

According to Nick Kypreos, who broke the signing, the Oilers have Gerber pegged as the #3/#4 goaltender in the system. Whether Gerber’s going to be given a chance to climb higher or lower than that is anyone’s guess, but based on his track record he has to be considered a comparable performer to younger goalies Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk.

The most likely situation is that Gerber begins the season in the AHL. Whether he has some company there in the form of Deslauriers or Dubnyk is going to be dependent on whether Nikolai Khabibulin ends up in prison to start the season and of course the vagaries of the NHL waiver wire.

At the AHL level, Gerber is a more than competent starter. He had an 0.914 SV% in the KHL last year and has consistently been an 0.900 SV% goaltender at the NHL level, and of course he was brilliant for Switzerland at last year’s World Championships. There is little doubt that he can step in and be a top-10 goaltender in the American League.

The question is whether he might be more than that or not. In a rebuilding year, the obvious answer is ‘no;’ after all, the Oilers have spent years developing Deslauriers and Dubnyk and presumably they see upside in those two that simply isn’t there with Gerber. However, in this case the obvious answer might not be the correct one.

If we assume that the Oilers want and need Khabibulin insurance, something that seems likely given not only his legal troubles but also his health and age, than Gerber fits the bill better than either youngster. He can play in the AHL and have success, and the Oilers can save some money if he gets stuck there – unlike Deslauriers and Dubnyk, both on one way deals. He can fill in at the NHL level and have success, and certainly ought to be able to post numbers as good (or better) than either of the young goaltenders did last year. At the same time, there isn’t much upside to Gerber, and it’s hard to see an NHL team wanting him badly enough to claim him on waivers and keep him as their NHL backup – whereas one. In short, it’s a role he fits better than the more expensive Jeff Deslauriers (and once again I’m forced to wonder why Deslauriers was qualified).

Of course, there’s always the off-chance that Gerber outplays both of the kids and has a significant NHL role next season. It’s not something I’d put money on, but he’s taken less money to get another crack at the NHL so he’s clearly motivated, and his track record certainly suggests he’s capable of high-end performances from time to time.

Regardless of what happens, this was a fantastic signing by Steve Tambellini.

I’d also recommend David Staples’ excellent article on the move. 


Via Tyler Dellow, I see that Oilers assistant general manager Rick Olczyk has talked to the Sun‘s Rob Tychowski about the Gerber signing.  The whole article is worth a read, as Olczyk goes into the Khabibulin situation and repeatedly affirms both his personal belief and the belief of the Oilers’ organization that Khabibulin will be the team’s starting goaltender next year, and denies rumours that the team might look to cut him if he misses training camp.  In any case, Olczyk praised Gerber and stressed that the signing had nothing to do with Khabibulin:

“It had nothing at all to do with that,” Olczyk said of Khabibulin’s impending trial on extreme DUI charges in Scottsdale. “He had a tremendous year in the KHL and we needed to fill a void. We felt it was the right move and the right player at this particular point in time. It has nothing at all, and I’d like to stress that, it has nothing to do with Khabby.”


  • vern

    If i’m not mistaken, Roy is not elligable to play in the AHL. Pitton by all accounts is not ready to be a AHL starter. Dubnyk and JDD both have to clear waivers. Nobody is sure whats going to happen with Khabibulin. Be it his trial or injury problems. Why not pick up another NHL proven goalie, who is willing to go to the minors without having to clear waivers, cheap. No avalible young goalie would agree to Gerbers contract tearms. To me it looks like the oilers signed JDD to his contract so they could give him another look at camp/start of the season. The contract is big enough that he shouldn’t be claimed if sent down, but small enough to not be a cap worry.This way they run with a combinaton of Bulin/ JDD or DD. With the other in the minors being mentored by a NHL vet. Gerber meanwhile can bounce back and forth depending on need.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Investing, like, $1.05 million for one more season to see if Deslauriers can become what they hoped he might develop into way back when they drafted him? Doesn’t sound crazy to me.

    If he’ll be a UFA by then, with a UFA’s cost — and players like that are begging for jobs — then the price should be right, no?

    What they thought when they drafted him isn’t particularly relevant right now. There’s seven years of additional information that render that assessment pretty dated. The guy who did the assessing then has been relieved, probably in part because he wasn’t good at it.

    There’s no point in pouring resources into guys for the sake of them being YOUR guy. If he’s not better than what you can get for free, ie. league minimum, then there’s no point having him around.

    As it stands, JDD is going to become a UFA after next season. One of two things will happen. Either he’ll suck this year and the Oilers won’t want him back. I think we can safely say that they’re paying $505K above what a player with comparable expectations would cost for the 2010-11 season.

    If, however, he plays and is good, he’ll want whatever the fair price is for a player with those numbers going into next season. The Oilers, in effect, won’t benefit from drafting and developing him because their time to enjoy the fruits of that has passed. They’re supposed to have gotten their return on the investment in him by now.

    Instead, they’ve paid him a half mil more than a player with comparable numbers would cost on the free market and he’s free to sell himself to the highest bidder next year. Katz wouldn’t let his pharmacy managers run a business like that. I’m surprised he lets his hockey staff get away with it.

    • Even if JDD plays lights-out this year, he’s not going to command crazy jack though. One-hit wonders in net don’t get 6 mil contracts, so I think it’s a win-win for the Oil here.

    • Ducey

      As it stands, JDD is going to become a UFA after next season. One of two things will happen. Either he’ll suck this year and the Oilers won’t want him back. I think we can safely say that they’re paying $505K above what a player with comparable expectations would cost for the 2010-11 season.

      What he gets paid is not a problem. Its a one year deal and they have lots of cap room. Its a reasonable to believe he still has upside. There is no doubt he has talent. The consistency and setup are the problem. So maybe he will improve. If he improves his save % from .901 to .910 they might yet have something. Youneverknow.

      Anyway, I think you missed the point. It seems likely they overpaid him to make sure other teams will not claim him on waivers. This gives them the flexibility to move him up and down throughout the year.

      • This gives them the flexibility to move him (JDD) up and down throughout the year.

        No it doesn’t. If JDD clears waivers and goes to OKC, the Oil wouldn’t be able to recall him all season without putting him on re-entry waivers first.

        So to get him up here, 29 other teams would have to pass on JDD at $502,500 (while the Oilers would pay the same amount to waive goodbye). It’s possible he would clear, but if any other team is having any sort of goaltending issues/injuries, or if JDD is better/younger than what they have as a backup, it’s quite possible he’d be snatched up.

        Chances are, if JDD clears waivers on the way down to OKC, he’s stuck there for the year. THAT is why they gave him a nice chunk-o-change. He knows he could very well end up in the minors & the Oil have compensated him enough to try and sneak him down without anyone claiming him, AND to “make it worth his while” (right or wrong). At the very least, he gives OKC strong goaltending.

        Meanwhile, Martin Gerber (if I’m not mistaken), has to clear waivers at the start of the year to get down to OKC, but would not have to clear re-entry waivers to get back up. So, when the inevitable injury happens with Nikki Rehab or Duby, they can safely bring Gerber up & down (if he clears waivers the first time), while ensuring they’re not affecting the Barons tending.

        • Wanyes bastard child

          Forgive my ignorance here…

          If we send JDD down at the end of camp, to be claimed off waivers the other team takes his full cap hit with none of it counting towards us? Where as with re-entry waivers then its half and half?


          Give your head a shake please….

  • Crackenbury

    You know you’re in the dog days of summer when the discussion is serious over a backup goalie earning 1mm per year and the signing of an insurance policy for a fraction of that amount to play in the AHL.

    I think the Oilers slightly overpaid JDD based on him being a good soldier the past several years. His development wasn’t handled very well by the organization and they know it.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I still think the Oilers could have looked over seas in Europe for a younger goalie who might just need a chance in north america. Why not take a chance like that?? 30th place no real depth in the organization for a up and coming goalie (except roy) why not take a chance like that??

  • Crackenbury

    WE ARE A JOKE EVEN IN THE KHL ? Nabokov’s snide remarks about the Oilers hit hard on just how bad things are here . No wonder we cannot even entice fringe NHL’er”s to come play here . No wonder even our players want out of here in droves . No wonder the only option for our club is to go with rookies and band aid fillins and hope for the best out of anyone that will play here to begin with .

    Who’s responsible for building this MICKEY MOUSE team to begin with , if it’s not the players that are toughing it out already ? One thing is for certain , the players were not responsible for building this team!

    Crap ,it hurts ,when players outside our club put light on how poorly the Oilers are thought of around the hockey world . KHLer’s probably threaten their players with being shipped out to the Northern Tar Sands of Oilers country if they under perform ?

    Like it or not, we have to take Nabokov’s comments as indicative of just how far our organization has fallen , and not just in the standings . How long can Oilers fans put up with being a joke in the hockey world ? Should we be thankfull for Nabokov giving us a REALITY CHECK ?

    • So Nabokov dissed the Oilers… did they even offer him a contract? Probably not. So a player that likely wasn’t even offered a contract by them is now saying he wouldn’t want to play here?

      Hm… BIG F’N deal!

      It’s like the guy that gets turned down by a chick and then says she’s ugly anyways.

    • Whitney27

      LOL wow coming from Nabakov that doesn’t hurt at all considering he is going to play in a league where guys go that can’t cut it in NHL or are old and washed up. Or in Nabokov case maybe a chance to win a championship because its an easier league to play in so he probaly won’t choke like he has always done in the NHL and Olympics.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    @madjam….that’s coming from a guy (Knob okov) who’s still bitter about the Oilers beating his butt in the ’06 playoffs and being bitter that nobody in the NHL would hire him due to his failures in the playoffs. he could be upset as well that even the “lowly” Edmonton Oilers wouldn’t offer him a job after playing on a powerhouse Sharks team. that has to bruise the ego, so he had his say about it. players and posters should get their shots in now, because we won’t be a so called “joke” for much longer!!

  • I see you all seem to be of same mind . All seem to see players as the fault of our troubles , and upper management as not being the head of our fall from grace . More voids left unattended going into this season . Maybe you should be asking yourselves why they continue not to adequately ,or fail, to fill them ? Just might be an upper management problem thats needs addressing far greater than those that they have gutted and let go over this firing spree they are currently on .

    Do we want to try and cure the symptons or the cause of all our problems ? Or , should we take the avenue :”hear no evil , see no evil . talk no evil ?”

    If upper management is the major problem , then how realistic is it to believe we will get any better anytime soon ? We all want to see a winner , just some of us see it happening different from others !

    • C’mon ‘jamma24’… training camp is still a month away. What did you expect – Nabokov, Kovalchuk & Hamhuis to sign here? ITS REBUILD MODE! Stick to the bong already. Sheeesh! Your like a poor-man’s DeepOil the way you ramble on. At least he’s entertaining… hey, anyone know how to get a good deal on limo services? Buddy’s wedding is coming up and we’re hoping for blue sky’s that day.


  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    @madjam….yes, i do see some of the players at fault for the way this team performed last year…and they are now gone! yes management is also responsible, but are doing a good job, SO FAR, in correcting the problem, not just here but in the AHL as well. be patient!

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Step 1. Read the last quote by Eddie O. “It has nothing at all, and I’d like to stress that, it has nothing to do with Khabby.”
    Step 2. See the link below on lie detection experts. The clip pretty much says it all from 2:25 – 3:15.

    All I have to say is Ed O should probably never try to slip one past his wife. Lying D Bag. Seriously though. Saw that clipped and laughed my ass of when reading that.

    • Ducey

      Its Rick “O”. If you are going to be unfairly critical of someone, the least you can do is get his name right.

      RC, as usual, you make some good points about JDD and re entry waivers. But I think the higher salary will help them get him to the AHL in the first place. On the way up, it may deter a team or two from taking him on the way up.

      Anyway, I don’t get the criticism of some out here. Its not our money and it won’t impact on the team (ie its not preventing a signing elsewhere). So why does it matter?

  • Ducey

    I’LL be stunned if Bulin starts the season for the Oilers. He’ll either be 30 days in Jail or his back won’t be ready for the season. Let’s go back to the Sheldon Souray comments a few months ago about beiing forced to play while not fully recovered. The fact that the Oilers signed Gerber shows forsight on thier part. Plan c is better than no plan at all. If Bulin magically starts the season, who here thinks that he’ll be in any kind of game shape before Christmas? JDD or DD will sit and watch as Bulin piles up the minutes. Bulin’s signing to me still reeks and that stink won’t go away till his contract is done.Or until he goes and pops and few more bevy’s and does something stupid to himself in whatever high priced car he is driving the next time. You think Brownlee’s got a problem with drivers who annoy him. I got no time for idiots who drink and drive. Seen too many of thier victims.( I work as a nurse at the RAH).I got no sympathy for Bulin and would rather see the Oilers dump him and go with JDD and DD.BLah Blah.

  • My synopsis on all of this is that DEPTH IS A GREAT ASSET. It encourages people to compete for playing time and major league jobs, and allows you to draw on your own resources in the event of injury or poor play.

    @Madjam – Enjoy being the joke. It is short term, and is the tried and true process that can vault an organization toward sustained competitiveness for a long, long time.

    If we signed Hamhuis, Ponikarovsky and Asham, we could only expect to be in the same sitch that Les Canadiens are currently in – not bad, but not nearly good enough to compete for the big prize … wishing, hoping, and praying for a miracle run.

    Screw that.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      or the Calgary Flames, who are still going with the vets, and recently reacquired Tanguay and Ollie Joke anen. they will NEVER win a cup down there with that team. i DO NOT want the Oilers to continue to be in a situation like that.

  • Whitney27

    Are there people with a pulse and half working brain out there who still think JDD has a legitimate chance of being the goaltender of the future for a team?

    The list of goaltenders who managed to turn their careers from also-ran to legitimate NHL goaltender is pretty short. How many more years do you need to dump into a guy to figure out if he can do the job?

    JDD was a mediocre AHL goalie at best. He’s been a bad NHL goaltender at best. At what point do you cut ties with him?

    Even if he does manage to pull his sv% up to .910 (as one person suggests)… is he capable of doing it again? How much of a raise does he get for that performance?

    Goaltending in the NHL has changed drastically over the last 10 years. There are now more goaltenders than there are jobs. Good goaltenders come from all over the world, and the difference between the 7th or 8th best and the 25th best is very small, so it makes no sense to pay one guy $3mil when a comparable guy is $2mil.

    Same idea here… why pay JDD $1mil when a comparable Gerber is making $0.5mil?

  • Whitney27

    Its amazing how we continue to cut down on goalies on this team. Deslauries finally got a year to show himself after sitting on the bench all last year and no he didn’t have a stellar year but he also was getting his first kick of the can standing behind a mediocore team at best. I still think he is very capable of being a #1 goalie in the NHL if he actually has a team in front of him to help him. And at this point I have more faith in Deslauries then I do in Dubnyk even though I do like DD.