Goalie In, Young Gun Out?


If TSN’s top duo of Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger are to be believed, Craig MacTavish is taking measured action in response to the Oilers’ troubles early: assessing the trade market for goalies but not on the verge of making a deal. 

In the TSN story, McKenzie says that MacTavish has been working the phones since at least the weekend, scouring the league for available goaltenders and determining the cost of them. He also indicates that a deal likely isn’t imminent, because teams don’t like making moves this early. Dreger adds that Buffalo probably doesn’t want to move Miller before Christmas and opines that "the Oilers are getting to the point where they realize they’re going to have to give up one of their young guns."

The Goalies

There really isn’t much surprise on the goaltending angle. 

First, MacTavish trying to get a read on who is available and what it might take to land them is an intelligent response to what has happened in Edmonton’s net so far. Both NHL goalies have struggled. The third-stringer, Richard Bachman, has been impressive in Oklahoma City but his prior career makes him an uncertain option long-term. There’s a decent chance that Devan Dubnyk responds if given a little more rope, particularly since this kind of four-game stretch isn’t unheard of – even for good goaltenders. But the preparatory work needs to be done so that if the struggles continue a move can be made with no time lost.

Second, it isn’t shocking that NHL teams are reluctant to deal goalies right now. What applies to Dubnyk (that he’s been bad, but over too short a span to write him off) applies broadly across the league. Even teams getting strong performances early need to be wary; they might find themselves making a trade and then having nowhere to go when a hot streak ends.

The Young Gun

The question with Dreger’s comment is how much of it is informed by knowledge of the inner workings of the Oilers’ brain-trust and how much is his own read on the situation. 

As I see it, there is no pressing salary cap need for Edmonton to dump one of its young stars, and despite the strength at right wing there is no real place where positional constraints are going to force a move. Where it might make sense is if the price of acquiring a desperately needed piece at another position (read: a top defenceman in the prime of his career) is the trade of a young forward. Depending on the specifics, that might be a trade that makes the Oilers a better team, a case of moving strength for weakness rather than hastily mortgaging the future. 

The math on that trade always works out the same way. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out; without him the Oilers don’t have a top centre. Taylor Hall is out; without him the Oilers’ left wing depth chart looks terrible. Sam Gagner is out; he just signed a deal with a no-trade understanding and he’s hurt anyway. Justin Schultz is likely out, because defence is the position the Oilers need the most help at and there’s still reason to hope Schultz can evolve into a player effective at both ends of the rink (he’s 23 years old and has yet to play his 100th professional game).

If one of the young forwards is out, the position to move is right wing; that’s the only place where there are two guys currently/likely to evolve into first line players. As a secondary point, it’s also the only place where the number three man on the depth chart looks like he could be a pretty nice fit in the second slot for the next few years. If the Oilers are making a top forward for top defenceman swap, it’s almost certainly Jordan Eberle or Nail Yakupov leaving town.

But nothing in the TSN report indicates such a move is imminent; McKenzie doesn’t talk about it at all and it’s a sure thing that Edmonton isn’t moving an Eberle or a Yakupov for a mediocre goaltender or a pending UFA, the two descriptors that fit all the players actually mentioned by name in the report.

  • JW

    How was that Glen Sather could keep this team in the playoff picture with half the budget and still find excellent players? Particularly goalie’s?

    He could always find jems in a coal mine.

    I know money and buying a team has gone to his head and it’s much easier to acquire UFA’s and produce a playoff team when your city is Manhattan but Slats could get it done.

    To acquire Miller or Elliot shouldn’t cost a whole lot! Miller for one wants out, more importantly he wants to come west…….Am I missing something?

    Again, so semblance of risk, were we not told this?

  • Don’t see it happening, but would love to see the Oilers move their 1st plus Yak (sorry) in a package that nets them a solid starter and all around D. Wishful thinking though. In that kinda of deal I also imagine a lot of salary would come this way.

    • Randaman

      funny that when a trade gets mentioned the trash button goes ballistic. Do you all actually think that all of a sudden this small team is going to make a 180deg turnaround? I don’t get it. A trade at some point of one of the so called fab five or six has to happen. Everyone says Pittsburgh did it and Chicago did it but they had the luxury of drafting WAY better players than Hall, Eberle, RNH or Yak. No disrespect but those are the facts.

      • Lol I got hammered on that one I see. But ya, we need to give to get and are in a position where we could deal a position of great strength and significantly improve the club. I get that fans really attach to players. I do too.. But this is to make this hockey team way better. If ridiculous ideas like Hemsky and n Schultz got us what we really needed, I wouldn’t suggest moving Yakupov. But we have to be realistic here. I’m going to guess I was thumbs downed by 11 high school girls. Lol

    • That’s actually a big part of the reason I tend to think Eberle rather than Yakupov would be the guy moved out in that sort of hypothetical deal. Not only is Eberle the more proven player, but the odds are good that defenceman is making money and the dollars need to work in any trade.

  • Czar

    I’d like to see MacT try to do a deal with the Wild for Harding,sh!t even Kuemper would be an upgrade at this point. The Wild have done well at drafting goalies and they might be persuaded, Might be.

  • I’m glad we’re finally at the point where we can all seriously discuss this happening.

    I’m a fan of Yak, but he would be the odd man out as far as I’m concerned. Eberle has developed nice chemistry with Hall and RNH, and Yak might even have more value because he has years left on his entry level contract.

    It seems unlikely that the Oilers can find any team to give up their #1 goalie*. So it would seem to me that if MacT is thinking about unloading one of his high value assets, it would be for a stud d-man. Even then, I doubt guys like Subban, Pietrangelo or Ekman Larssen are available. That seems to leave one name: Shea Weber.

    * JW, this summer it sounded like Lundquist was unhappy in NY. If contract talks are still sour, is it possible that is the fit MacT is looking for?

  • I hope they do not make a panic trade. Unless you are getting an elite top 5 goalie the cost at this point is going to be too high for the minor upgrade you are going to get.

    If we give Dubnyk some time and space he should revert back to at least league average, which is probably the best we are going to get at this point anyways.

    A team that is not deep, that is comprised of 1/2 new guys, that has a rookie coach, introducing a new system, could very well take some time to gel. Sure this is the worst start any of us could have imagined, but it is very early. Gagner should be back next week, and although the points have not come as of yet the boys are not playing that badly.

    Last night we were all around the net, and I would say we out-chanced one of the best teams in the league. One more goes in or we get one more save and we are looking at a potential upset.

  • braidonh

    Hmm. If MacT is looking to make a deal… What would it take to pry Robin Lehner out of Ottawa? IMO, I think we’d be looking at a Petry-level player, a higher end prospect (Marancin, Fedun, ect), and a mid to high level pick (2nd or 3 and 4). Do you think that would be worth it? Lehner appears to be a stud in the making, and has experience (though limited) that offers numbers that suggest the same thing.

    • Admiral Ackbar

      Bishop went for a second to Ottawa, and then TB for Conacher right. Lehner has similar value. Ottawa’s not giving up their stud backup anyways because Anderson is a bandaid. A top four defensemen for Lehner? I dunno. Adding more pieces, Yikes.

  • PSinghBSc

    I’m quite concerned with all of this talk of moving Yak or Ebs. We all want to win now but systems take time to develop. I hope MacT doesn’t press the panic button on a aging goalie on the backend of his prime to salvage a season. We have been rebuilding for ages, hate to lose talent like Yak or Ebs. Top 6 forwards are hard to come by.

    • Mikey

      How long does it take to rebuild though? You guys have had four years of 1ST overall picks and still cant put it together? I mean correct me if i’m wrong but can’t you understand peoples frustrations?

  • Spydyr

    Instead of jumping on the misery band wagon like every one else i saw last nights game as a sign that the team is starting to grasp the new system . If they had played that way all year they would be above 500 even with bad goal tending. I believe they are going to start to win more then they lose in a game or two as this system is perfect for this team and its average size.

    • ghostofberanek

      If it gets Elisha Cuthbert in Edmonton, where we’ll run into each other, she falls in love with me, leaves Phaneufinstein and we live happily ever after….. what were we talking about again?

      • S cottV

        I understand the downside but Phaneuf is a legit top 2 d man, has a lot of physical presence, is a local guy who may not mind playing here at a reasonable cost and the Leafs may be willing to part with him. If he could be influenced to play more within himself, maybe the giveaways and unneccesary hits that cause odd man counter attacks – become manageable? As for Reimer, he may just need a fresh start and perhaps a Dubnyk / Reimer tandem – going with whoever is playing best might work. Again – Leafs may be willing to part with Reimer.

  • PlayDirty

    And, no other GM, wants Lowe’s golden haired boy Hemsky!!!

    While most successful teams build from the backend out, Oilers were chasing Boys on the Bus, Vol 2.

  • ubermiguel

    Everyone read that mc79 link and calm the f#$% down! MacT is working the phones like a good GM should and Dubnyk is going to regress to his mean (.917) which is a solid NHL goalie. Unless of course the fans ride him like a rented mule and destroy his confidence forever.

  • Spydyr

    One would think a team with no real goalie prospect would have taken a goalie the last draft.

    When this was mentioned at draft time it received a lot of negative feedback. It is sad when a second tier fan notices issues before the “braintrust” does.

    This is turning into the rebuild without a plan.

    • A goalie drafted last year would take five years to arrive.

      Should they have snagged one in the later rounds? I would have been good with that; I support taking the best available goalie just outside the top-100 every year. But it didn’t get much negative feedback because the time frame is so long and the odds of success with any goalie pick so bad (particularly in the 2013 Draft).

      • Spydyr

        Unless your drafting Grant Fuhr or a goalie very early in the first round it goes without saying the goalie would take time to develop.

        This was not about addressing todays problem it was about addressing tomorrows problems before they happen. Also know as foresight. Something sorely lacking here in the last three decades.

  • Spydyr

    There were reports of Edmonton looking to trade with Philly. Names on Phillie included Couturier, Carlee, Simmonds. On Edmonton, there was Take and Hemsky.

    I read to separate reports on this last night. Did anyone else hear about these, as I can’t recall the source.

    • Nail Yakupov just had the single most-exciting rookie season I can ever remember watching, and he got mentioned in the same sentence, too.

      I know you’re kidding, but that’s the way it is. If a trade of this type happens, a guy the fanbase loves is heading out.

      • Boourns99

        I recognize that you have to give up quality to get quality – my question here (all kidding aside) is would Ebs be tradeable at $6M per? A lot of GMs see that as pretty rich for a 23 yr old (personally – I think these contracts will prove to be some of the few genius moves by Tambo).

        I’m shocked Yak’s name keeps coming up – he is a kid with less than 70 games experience and has scored like Hall did with WAY better minutes. This kid could be a dynamo – and trading him now would be insane. There is no chance you win that trade.

    • Admiral Ackbar

      I’d have no problem moving Schultz. I like him and believe his production is replaceable. After 50 games watching him plus the half year in OKC you love the creativity, but you wonder if he will ever be good enough defensively. Talking about any young gun trades for a goalie seems sad to me. If it happens it shows a lack in ability for MacT to fill holes.