It was five years ago that I posted an article about the MacBlender. People were outraged that Craig MacTavish would change his lines up frequently, of course 95% of NHL coaches do this, but people needed someone to blame so MacTavish was the guy.
Fast forward five years, and I think it is time for the GM to fire up the MacBlender again.
This time the blender will be set on the Trade setting.
The Oilers need a shake up.
You can try different line combinations, bring guys up from the minors, but it won’t mask the issues.
The first order of business has to be bringing in another goalie. I’m not sure MacTavish can wait much longer, hoping that Devan Dubnyk will find some consistency. MacT needs to bring in someone to challenge Dubnyk or even move him to the backup position.
The Oilers outplayed the Lightning last night. The Bolts turned the puck over way more than the Oilers, but Ben Bishop covered up their mistakes. Right now, the Oilers don’t have that luxury.
Most teams won’t just hand you their backup, unless they have a solid #3 waiting in the wings.
Anaheim has lots of depth in goal, but I don’t see them making a move right away.
Jonas Hiller, 31 years old, will be a UFA at the end of the season. He has a $4.5 million cap hit, so the Oilers would need to send some money to Anaheim to acquire him. He is their starter so it is unlikely he’s the one the Ducks would move.
Viktor Fasth is on injured reserve. He is 31 years old and has one year left at $2.9 million. He’s only played 28 games, and after a ridiculous start his numbers have come back to reality.
Frederik Andersen, 24 years old. He’s won all four of his NHL starts and has a sparkling 0.952 SV% and a 1.36 GAA.
John Gibson, 20 years old in his first pro season. He’s had 9 starts in the AHL with a 0.951 SV% and a 1.61 GAA. The Ducks aren’t trading him.
The Ducks would most likely be willing to part with Fasth, but they can’t trade him until he is healthy, so I don’t see a Ducks/Oilers trade happening right away.
The Blues have Jaro Halak and Brian Elliott, with Jake Allen playing in the minors. The Blues could move Elliott, but they aren’t in any rush. The Blues expect to make a long run in the playoffs, and I doubt they would weaken their goaltending depth right now. Unless the Oilers were willing to overpay for Elliott, I don’t see a trade brewing.
Many expect James Reimer to be dealt, but the Leafs are in no rush to move him. They know Edmonton is desperate, so their asking price is very high. They could move Reimer and bring up Drew MacIntrye, 2.11 GAA and 0.912 SV% in AHL, but the Oilers would need to overpay.
It is a fair argument to suggest the Oilers should overpay, because until they get consistent goaltending they aren’t going to win. Maybe MacTavish feels the same and would be willing to "lose" a trade, to better his team.
The Oilers could sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a pro-rated one-year deal. He is big on family and his son plays hockey and his daughter is a figure skater. There would be lots of opportunities for his kids to enhance those skills during the Edmonton winter. Bryzgalov wouldn’t cost you any players, and he has a much better track record than Jason LaBarbera.
I understand there would be much trepidation in signing him, but the Oilers might have no better option.
Do you see another option, a realistic one, for MacTavish to pursue?
We know that MacTavish, Kevin Lowe and many of the Oilers scouts are on the road scouting opposing players and goaltenders, and they have had conversations with opposing general managers.
Is a trade coming? I believe it has to.
The players will never come out and say it, but their confidence in Dubnyk is diminishing. I know he isn’t the only issue on the team, but it is easier to hide an inconsistent winger or defenceman. When your goalie is struggling it is easy to see, and even more difficult to overcome.
I believe it is time to fire up the MacBlender.