Oilers Sign Martin Gerber (Updated)

May 17, 2010 - Mannheim, DEUTSCHLAND - DER SCHWEIZER TORWART MARTIN GERBER (L) WIRFT SICH DEM NORWEGER MATS ZUCCARELLO AASEN ENTGEGEN BEIM 3:2 SIEG NORWEGENS GEGEN DIE SCHWEIZ BEI DER EISHOCKEY-WM IN MANNHEIM./ 170510 / 2010 / MANNHEIM / DEUTSCHLAND / EUROPA / SPO / EISHOCKEY / WM2010 / WELTMEISTERSCHAFT / ZWISCHENRUNDE / GRUPPE F / NORWEGEN VS SCHWEIZ 3:2 / NOR VS SUI / EISHOCKEYSPIELER / NATIONALSPIELER / AKTION / SPIELSZENE..ICEHOCKEY WORLD CUP IN MANNHEIM, GERMANY, NORWAY VS SWITZERLAND 3:2.

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. 

UPDATE: OLCZYK COMMENTS

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.”

 

    • Hi Robin, I value your opinion – why do you think JDD was designed at all, nevermind for more money than DD. and Gerber and for nearly Turcos money. I don’t know why, and it has nothing to do with other websites.

      • Re-signed at all? Because he if you don’t qualify a player he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

        Is the team supposed to cut Deslauriers loose? Because he makes too much money? Because he’s proven he can’t be an NHL goaltender? Because DD has better numbers and is clearly a better prospect? No on all counts.

        Gerber is capable filler and willing to work for cheap. That might buy the Oilers more time to look at Deslauriers and Dubnyk — it would be nice to see both of them actually play behind something other than the dregs of the past couple of seasons.

        • I’m with you on keeping JDD, although the one-way, 7-figure ticket is pretty steep. Goalie development is a long-term process, and extremely unpredictable.

          I’ve seen enough from both JDD and DD to believe that either of them could easily become an NHL starter, so why risk giving one away when you don’t have to?

          Gerber is a tremendous insurance policy, as per Ross Creek’s re-post.

          • “I’ve seen enough from both JDD and DD to believe that either of them could easily become an NHL starter, so why risk giving one away when you don’t have to?”

            Ahhhh-hahahahhahahahahahhaha!!!!!!!!

            Good one man.

          • Hahahaha,

            BUT SERIOUSLY THOUGH. I’m not saying they WILL, but I haven’t seen anything from either of them that would lead me to believe that they could NEVER become NHL goalies. They have the physical tools, and are growing as complete goalies. Will that growth end this year? Next year? Who knows?

            Bryan Pitton will NEVER be an NHL goalie.
            Andrew Perugini will NEVER be an NHL goalie.
            Mike Morrison will NEVER be an NHL goalie.
            Ty Conklin will NEVER be an NHL goalie. again.

            I don’t think you can say that about any of the four D’s we have in net.

          • Matt please, don’t encourage him….he pretty much slams the goaltending in every single solitary post he puts up…

            For the first little while you could say, that’s great, one guys opinion which everyone is entitled to….but it’s neverending…he goes on and on and on and on and on about it.

            It’s so sad that Oilers wouldn’t just hire him to be their GM…he has all the answers.

          • To be fair, I’m not going to say any more about JDD and DD after this. There’s lots of other blogs and lots of other posters to carry that torch.

            The Olympics and the SC playoffs make all the case you need for the fact that a decent goaltending tandem vastly improves a team. I can see the point in developing players in the case where its hard for bottom-level teams to acquire same talent.

            But goalies? There’s craploads of NHL level talent out there. You simply don’t have to develop goalies right now. Unlike other positions, if the tenders you have suck, you can go out and get what you need. Maybe not a Tim Thomas, but decent, actual NHL’ers.

            We wanted suckage last year so JDD and DD played their part. But I challenge anybody out there to tell me what other decent NHL team would want or need either of them as their #2. So why should we?

            *crickets*

          • Theodore or Emery backs up Khabby. DD and Gerber to OKL for the inevitable call-up. JDD to whoever wants him.

            That being said, I can’t help thinking Niemi could split duties with Khabby. Two years from now when we start making some hay, we’ve got Niemi to be the #1. Probably doesn’t work with that ridiculous contract of Khabby’s however. Dammit.

          • The problem with this is what if DD is the real thing and you waste all the years you’ve put into him only to put him on waivers to send him down and he doesn’t clear and someone else picks him up and he becomes a star NHL goalie with a new team and we end up floundering with all these old castoffs? The sh!t would hit the fan around here if that happened.

            You’d have what? Khabby and Emery? or Theodore who Washington was afraid to use in the playoffs?

            What was Niemi before this year? Then all of a sudden there he was winning a Stanley cup…of course it helped to have a great team in front of him. How good could DD or JDD look with Seabrook, Keith, Campbell, Hjalmarsson, Sopel, etc in front of them?

            You can’t send DD to the AHL…it’s too risky. I don’t think DD would clear waivers…JDD might but not DD.

            Just how good is Niemi backstopping the group we had here last year? Gerber was already run out of the NHL once, so was Emery. Everyone complains about Khabby being injury prone. Well isn’t Emery injury prone? And Theodore is suck prone plus he’s getting old.

            I don’t see how having Emery, Theodore, Gerber or any other old castoffs is going to help make this team win games. At some point we have to find out if JDD and DD can be NHL goalies and play them. Now is as good a time as any as the expectations are low.

            Who knows we might have the next Niemi or Cam Ward on our hands…you just don’t know but you won’t find out with them playing in the AHL.

          • You know dude, I don’t have much of an issue with what you said above there. The only thing for me concerns how many games it should take before we find out if those two can be NHL goalies. I mean, its not like either of them took up the game a couple of years ago.

            We saw them each play a fair bit last year and my thought is that they’re just not that good. So what do we care if we lose either of them in waivers? So far it seems neither is going to be worth the effort to develop. The way things are right now there’s just no need to develop goalies when they’re so readily available. Why endure the suck when you don’t have to?

          • That’s just it, top end good ones are not as readily available as you seem to think they are…seriously you think Theodore, Emery are good NHL goaltenders that can get the job done for years to come?

            I’m not sure how you can come to the conclusion that the two young goaltenders aren’t going to be good after part of one NHL season. Especially given Dubnyk’s second half to his season…

            Can you at least tell me what is wrong with the numbers that Dubnyk put up after the all star break…to me they are numbers that give a person reason for optimism, especially his last 8 games.

            The young goaltender has played all of 19 whole games in the NHL and you are already ready to dump him for the likes of Jose Theodore and Ray Emery…

            So again, I’m not sure who all these goaltenders are that are no threat to suck who are readily available and have lots of good years left in them…

            From what I see, most of the ones that are available are either past their prime just as Khabby was when we signed him or they are goaltenders which lost their starting jobs to other younger guys due to them not being good enough (ie: Dan Ellis, Chris Mason).

            I could see signing one of them to be a possible starter if we didn’t already have Khabby. But we have Khabby, so no sense signing another one when it’s possible that one of our young guys could turn out to be a sound NHLer.

            I get your opinion. You don’t think either of them is any good but their are some of us that think that one or both of them could be good soon and we want to find out. Now’s the time to do just that.

        • Is the team supposed to cut Deslauriers loose? Because he makes too much money? Because he’s proven he can’t be an NHL goaltender? Because DD has better numbers and is clearly a better prospect? No on all counts.

          JDD is 25. What is the point with him at this point? The league is overflowing with goalies who can’t find work, goalies who are better than him. In order for it to make sense for the Oilers to sink money into him, there has to be some return at some point.

          Say you’re right and that JDD turns into a guy who can start 55-60 games, a league average starter. Fantastic. He’ll be a UFA by then, with a UFA’s cost. Players like that are literally begging for jobs right now.

          Why are the Oilers investing in creating something that’s basically a free commodity? What’s the point?

          • 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?

            Spending one more season and $1.05 million on Deslauriers doesn’t stike me as bizarre.

          • Robin,

            Do you knit your own socks? Of course not, because you can go to the store and buy something just as good without expending any of the effort.

            Of course, there’s still the chance that you might knit socks so great that they totally beat anything you could go out and buy at Walmart… but I doubt it.

    • Maybe he’s wondering why JDD was qualified and signed at $1.05MM because there are goalies with far better track records begging for jobs in the NHL and goalies who are likely better in the immediate future taking $500K/$200K deals. Where was JDD going to go if he wasn’t qualified?

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Can we now hang ‘The Wall’? Honestly, if we’re young up front, why do we need to be so ‘old’ between the pipes?

    However, ‘Wall’ has won a cup and may have given Sid’s kids a run in the 2009 final had he not been injured for the end of the Chi-Det series. Do we need to spend this much money on mentorship??

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Also — just sayin’, not predicting — if BOTH JDD and Dubnyk FAIL to show improvement over last year’s ability levels, by the end of the pre-season, then it may be beneficial to have a NHL vet on hand just to stop the bleeding.

    Because NEITHER JDD nor Dub showed themselves as anything beyond marginal NHL backups last year (I know Dubnyk has a good stretch as the end, and JDD showed some flashes, but overall,…).

  • Wax Man Riley

    Jason Gregor had a good point on this signing in that it re-affirms that reKhabibulin will be back with the Oil this year. If they planned not to have him back, and wanted a goalie signed, they could get a younger, and more #1-ready goalie than Gerber. they have the cap room for it and don’t need to save the space. This is an AHL and depth signing in case injuries or unforseen circumstances happen this year.
    Good signing

  • Jodes

    UPDATE: OLCZYK COMMENTS

    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.”

    Umm right sure this move didn’t have anything to do with Khabi. Keep thinking that Rick!

    Since the Oilers have hired him, has he done anything that hasn’t made him look like an idiot?

  • Great signing.

    If Khaby can’t go due to his legal issues or health, we’re not stuck with starting the kids for 80 games again.

    If Khaby’s healthy and gets through the legal issues, one of the kids (probably Deslauriers) would get traded and Gerber is insurance in Oklahoma City.

  • Great signing. At worse he’s the starter for OKC, at best, he’s a great steady veteran goaltender who can add stability in Edmonton should Khabi not be able to start the year or get injured and JDD/DD have the same consistency issues they did last year.

  • This makes me wonder if this is the “Writing on the Wall” For Bulin. It would not surprise me at all if the Oilers cut their ties with Wall for good. Could we see a goalie trade in the first 20 Games? JDD could find himself a new home shortly. Say Montreal?

  • Jodes

    I agree Jon.. great signing with very little loss.

    I think this was done with the Barons in mind. Have Gerber down there with the kids, helping develop Pitton and see how the year shakes out.

    Having Gerber allows one to have many more options between the pipes, espeically if Khabi is A) Found Guilty and is in the clink B)Found not guilty (more like off on a technicality) but is still not 100% (rumours of his lack of conditioning are still abound) C) Comes back and you guessed it, gets hurt before the end of November.

    I guess it will be a lot clearer come the 27th of August!