The Free Agent Goalie List

If the Oilers decide to acquire a new goaltender, the best route at the moment is probably free agency. Yes, the talent’s been picked over, but the acquisition cost is a willingness to put Jason LaBarbera on waivers, rather than something ludicrous. What’s out there?

The List

  • Ilya Bryzgalov. The best option out there. Bryzgalov was bought out by Philadelphia after imploding with the Flyers, but in three of the four seasons prior to that disaster he posted a 0.920 save percentage or better. Of course, a high-pressure situation under heavy media scrutiny in a city where it sometimes gets as cold as minus-32 might not be the ideal fit for him. Could you imagine?
  • Jose Theodore. This is another possibility. Let’s start with the bad: Theodore’s coming off a rough year with the Panthers where he missed 27 games to a groin injury and had a 0.893 save percentage in the 15 contests he did play. The good: in three seasons leading up to 2012-13, spent with three different teams, Theodore played 30+ games every year and posted 0.911, 0.916 and 0.917 save percentages.
  • Rick DiPietro. Seriously, people need to stop talking about this guy. In DiPietro’s last full season (2007-08) he had a 0.902 save percentage, which is terrible. In the five seasons since, split between the NHL and AHL, DiPietro has played all of 67 games and managed a 0.887 save percentage. He’s always hurt and in those brief windows where he isn’t he plays very poorly. Realistically, at this point it’s fair to ask if he would even be a capable starter at the AHL level.

The Problem(s)

Edmonton currently sits at 49 NHL contracts, thanks to a busy off-season of acquisition, a quick preseason waivers binge, and the refusal of other NHL teams to claim any of the guys the Oilers placed on the waiver wire. So adding a player like Bryzgalov puts the Oilers in a tough spot, flexibility-wise. Maybe there’s a situation elsewhere (Winnipeg is at only 42 NHL contracts right now) where the Oilers could do something like trade Tyler Bunz and a sixth round pick for a seventh round pick.

Making such a move also almost certainly requires putting Jason LaBarbera on waivers (he’d likely clear) and shipping him to the minors. The Barons already have a pretty good starter in Richard Bachman, and while Olivier Roy’s development clearly isn’t an organizational priority that’s less than ideal. It would also leave $75,000 of LaBarbera’s contract counting against the Oilers’ cap, as his $1.0 million salary exceeds the $925,000 maximum deduction for buried NHL’ers.

Finally, even adding the best of the free agents above (in my opinion Bryzgalov) may not solve anything. Not only has Bryzgalov been prone to meltdowns, but LaBarbera has posted a better save percentage than the ex-Flyer in three of the last four seasons. Bryzgalov’s career save percentage is higher, and he’s played more games, but it’s close enough that he might not be an upgrade.

There’s also this:

What to do?

Wait and see. The Oilers play the Islanders tonight; presumably Devan Dubnyk will get the start but we’ll see. If Dubnyk bounces back with a strong game, the Oilers can afford to hold off on a decision. If Dubnyk gets lit up again, it might be time to see if Bryzgalov can be talked down to $1.5 million – both because Edmonton can’t afford to keep losing games and because Bryzgalov is the one guy still out there who might legitimately be a better goalie than either of the guys the Oilers have right now.

And who knows, Bryzgalov just might take it. After all, Theodore is still out there, there aren’t many NHL jobs available and there might be added motivation in an Olympic year.

  • Funny. Not too long ago good goalies were coming up to your door every Sunday morning to tell you about the lord’s gift or sell you Girl Guide Cookies (which are g*d damn delicious BTW). Now they’re rare as hen’s teeth.

  • Here is one option that might
    Help our oilers goaltending,
    Tell kipper former flames to
    Come out of retirement play for
    The oilers and to stick it to
    Flames right where it hurts
    Because they didnt want you anymore.

    And please kerry diotte do
    Edmonton a favor dont run for
    Mayor our city is heading in the
    Right direction!!!

  • Hemmercules

    This season is reminding me of the 05/06 Oilers minus Pronger. The team played well but the 2 goalies that were expected to start failed miserably.

    So standings wise we weren’t perceived as a good team. We were just a scoring dude and a goalie away from a playoff run. Now we are probably a goalie, top shutdown D and a big scoring forward away from a playoff birth.

  • vetinari

    Can’t see a move by the Oilers until they come back from the road trip. Playing badly on the road is tough but playing badly in front of your home town fans will quickly escalate the problem from bad to nuclear. There’s still a few games left on the road for the goalies to redeem themselves and I can’t see the team not giving the goalies this chance to sort themselves out before bringing someone new in.

    If we do get to the point where we have to add a goalie, Bryzgalov would likely be the best of the UFA’s but I still think that some other goalies on other teams would be better long term solutions, provided we don’t have to give up one of the young guns.

  • Reality Check to the head

    My understanding is that Bryzgalov is a little bit of a wingnut. He has also been let go from Las Vegas minor league team. Best available option, is not always the smart one.

    Patience Oiler faithful. Lets hope, pray, and/or wish hard that Dubes finds his stride and goes on a tear.

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    All summer and spring I kept saying that our goaltending was weak and “boom” MacT looks like an idiot. This could be our worst year ever if the bleeding doesn’t stop. I hope I’m not the only one that thinks Dallas Eakins is megalomaniac that has the personality of a Junior High School volleyball coach. I’m still pissed that he sat out Yak for the second game and I watch the Acton – Brown – Gaz line play 5 minutes and we lose the game? Put your players in a position to succeed and don’t punish guys if the don’t want to ride the stationary bike for 1 hour after the game.

    There are many positives that have come this season and if the goalies were just ordinary we should be 3-3-1?

    The knee jerk reactions have to stop! Signing Big Mac was stupid. Signing Jonesy to 1.5 mil stupid. Bringing back Grebs stupid. Not getting a number 1 goalie after Dubnyk was well aware that the team was looking for an upgrade during the free agent period and at the draft. you guessed it, Stupid

    • Bishai in the Benches

      Ok – so after all the stupid things they tried – do we let the season tank without still trying? The difference this season is that we are trying as Belov and a heathy, Jonssuu are perfect examples. The ultimate problem is that Oilersnation (including me) will piss and moan no matter what so let all take a deep breath and start drink an hour before the game tonight – cheers and GO OILERS!

    • Hemmercules

      Haha, and where do you propose they just snag up a starting goalie at will?? You make it sound so easy, I mean why didn’t they just call up the best goalies in the league and demand they play in Edmonton this year!

      Duby is a professional, the fact that Mact was looking for another goalie this summer should only push him harder to be better. Starting goalie jobs are few and far between, he had his handed to him so its up to him to produce.

      • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

        The team was in a better bargaining place during the summer with many teams more than willing the talk about our young talent. Now that the whole NHL knows we’re looking for a goalie the price has gone through the roof. I agree that Duby is a professional but the team is starting to feel they have to score 5 to win every night. When the season started I wrote on this blog that Duby had to steal a couple during the first big road trip of the year and we’ve watched a career back up start back to back? If he’s the solution put him in there. Hey dude just a little frustrated

        • Hemmercules

          I’m pretty sure it was obvious to every GM in the NHL this summer that the Oilers goaltending is a bit weak. Mact was never in a position of power to land a goaltender for peanuts. When teams know you are desperate the asking price goes up. I’m sure Schneider and Bernier weren’t the only guys he went after, those are just the two we heard about. My guess is Mact exhausted every option and concluded that trying Duby out was better than selling off a great player for a goalie that may not be an upgrade. That obviously blew up in his face so far but thats the chance he took.

          I agree though, that was kind of weird to see Labarb play back to back games. If Duby is your guy at least let him play one game in a back to back set.

        • oilerjed

          Im not sure I buy the argument that prices go up because everyone knows we need a goalie. The other GMs have scouts and already have a pretty good idea about what other teams need. I can see it if the team is in your division, then the price has to go up so as to hedge your bets. Every GM in the league is going to need to address at least one need every season and turn about is fair play.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Ludicrous is right!

    The nonsense coming out of BUF right now is insane. I realize all home team fans and media blue sky trade scenarios and have strong biases for/against various players… but wow pack it in guys, you’re way off!

    The best bet is simply to wait it out and rotate the 3 Gs we have until someone figures it out, or the market opens up closer to the deadline.

    If all 3 somehow manage to defy odds and post all-world terrible goaltending in the continued short-term… then I’d look at free agency first, or a trade involving movable parts. There is no reason to trade the core young forwards. None.

    • oilerjed

      Id agree with not trading any of our youth but something has to be done to start getting some wins. For a team that retooled their entire locker room in order to break the “culture of losing” its gotta be a priority to end the losing, right. MacT sitting pat until we are out of it in December or waiting for the trade deadline is crazy talk. The Oil need to start winning now and management needs to reassure them that they are different (in theory at least) the their predecessors. Im a diehard fan and have watched almost every oiler game since the mid 90s and I found myself wondering if Ill bother watching the last two games. Multiply that by the thousands and you have the oilers hockey market.

      Panic move no. But make a move to get this team going the other way. Maybe then there may be enough energy at Rexall to get more then a halfassed “Lets go Oilers” chant going. That energy alone might be enough to get the OIl in gear.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Well, first you need to separate the issues.

        1. Goalie issue. You don’t trade a star forward for a goalie. Esp. a middling goalie who’s a UFA making a ton of cash. crazy talk all-round.

        2. You don’t trade young stars in a panic. You don’t trade them to battle sudden, unexpected change in historical play (i.e., the drop in sv%). You do trade them for equivalent value, i.e., a top 2 or 3 overall pick or a young stud D on a long term contract.

        Any other conversation is ridiculous.

        • Newj

          Lou gave up a 1st round pick (9th overall) to obtain Schneider (who himself was a 1st rounder). Most felt that was a sound trade made by Lou as a plan to succeed Brodeur.

          Granted it was a pick & not a roster player/star player.

        • oilerjed

          I think we are agreeing on the young stars, no need to get rid of the offence we have been looking for years.
          It diesnt only have to be the young guns that get traded, we do have quite a few prospects that there will be no room for. Also with Acrobello playing so well I wonder if he gets some attention after Gags gets back. Could be a nice addition to another team, although he does offer some surprising depth at the center position.

          Are you suggesting that they dont do anything then, play the waiting game? If so are you ready to write off another year. Im glad I cant afford to have season tickets.

  • Gordie Wayne

    I posted this before, but how about we trade some defence prospects and/or draft picks for a legitimate goalie prospect.

    At worst: We get a top goaltender for our AHL team and improve our organizational goalie depth.

    At best: We get an immediate replacement for Dubnyk if all goes right.

    Here are 3 top prospects that I would be aggressively targetting if I were MacT:

    Robin Lehner (Senators – .938 in 31 GP in AHL last year) – 6’4 213 lbs. Age: 22

    Frederik Andersen (Anaheim – .929 SP in 47 GP in AHL last year) – 6’4 230 lbs – Age: 24

    Niklas Svedberg (Bruins – .925 SP in 48 GP in AHL last year) – 6’1 176 lbs. Age: 24

    Lehner is likely untouchable (although for the right price, you never know), but the other 2 goalies should be trade-able as Anaheim and Boston have tremendous goalie depth in their system, and I am sure there are more options like this out there.

    Sather was always able to find these up and coming goalies (Ranford, Cujo and Salo come to mind). Is it possible that MacT can channel his inner Sather?

    Also, if you look down Highway 2, I seem to remember that team getting a goalie named Kiprusoff for a bag of pucks…

    • KleptoKlown

      If I’m MacT I get on the phone and ask Brian Murray what he wants for Lehner then I immediately give it to him.

      Yak and a 1st wouldn’t be too much to pay.


  • StHenriOilBomb

    I have a sinking feeling that there’s not much change coming from outside the organization, and that the only real hope is for one of the current 2 tenders to reclaim his game.

    on a brighter note, remember the last time the team needed a goalie to be competitive? Roli worked out pretty well, I’d say…

  • Hemmercules

    If Duby can’t play decent over the next two games they better be making that call to Brys. You have to worry about the guy though, he’s a bit of a head case and god knows the Oil can’t afford anything that might bring them down any further right now. If they do land Brysgalov they better put something in his contract where he can only give one word answers in media scrums lol. My guess is Mact is probably too worried about Brysgalovs attitude and makes a push for a trade involving another teams backup.