Report: Oilers pursuing Ray Emery

Photo: Leech44/Wikimedia

TSN’s Darren Dreger passed on some unsurprising news on Thursday morning: the Edmonton Oilers are in pursuit of Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery.

When I looked at free agent goalies early last month, Emery was one of the names I considered, and had perhaps the most interesting track record. From that piece, here’s a chart that shows the variance in goaltender even-strength save percentage over the last three seasons:

That black line shows the gap between the best and worst performance, and offers both the most compelling reason to sign Emery and the best excuse to stay away from him. Looking at it optimistically, Emery is the guy other than Mike Smith who has had the best single-season even-strength save percentage – albeit over just a 10-game sample in Anaheim in 2010-11. He also has nearly the worst numbers on the chart, a 0.899 save percentage posted during 2011-12 with Chicago. This year, he was back at the top of his game, and that’s presumably why NHL teams are interested.

How good is Emery, really? I’m a big believer in looking at long-term performance – goalies fluctuate up and down, but over time their track record reveals quality.

Emery has faced 4,572 shots at even-strength since the 2004-05 NHL Lockout. League average even-strength save percentage in that span is roughly 0.919; Emery’s save percentage is 0.920, making him slightly better than a league-average goalie. That’s not the same as saying Emery is average – because starters play more minutes than backups a league average save percentage generally indicates a guy in the 1A/1B range, better than the typical backup but not as good as a legitimate starting goalie. Nor is there much sign of drop off in Emery’s game; over the first half of the span we’re looking at he was a 0.921 EVSV% goalie while over the last half he was a 0.919 EVSV% goalie.

Based on performance, Emery is probably a hair worse than incumbent goalie Devan Dubnyk; if the Oilers added him he likely would settle into a 1B role, pushing and challenging Dubnyk but not supplanting him as starter. Prior to some lower body trouble that cost Emery nine games this season, he’s also been pretty healthy the last three years.

Put it all together and, dependent on contract, Emery looks like a strong addition to the Oilers.

Another possible goaltending name was suggested by Ryan Rishaug:

LaBarbera has faced slightly fewer shots than Emery post 2004-05: 3,541 at even-strength. Emery’s save percentage was 0.920, league average is roughly 0.919 and LaBarbera’s numbers over that span are 0.918. In other words, we’re splitting hairs here, with Emery just narrowly better than league average and LaBarbera just narrowly worse. Interestingly, LaBarbera got a vote of confidence from Dubnyk:

I don’t know who they want. There’s not that many out there, free-agent wise. I know Jason LaBarbera is a great guy, he’d be great in the room. There’s Hedberg; Khudobin, who is the same age as me.

Despite the differing perceptions of Emery and LaBarbera, either would provide the Oilers with a backup who could both spell and push Dubnyk; depending on contract either would be a strong addition in Edmonton.

Recently around the Nation Network

At NHL Numbers, Rex Libris analyzes 10 years of drafting (from 1979 to 1989), and finds something interesting:

One main item that stands out in this initial stage of analysis is that there is no direct and necessary causal realtionship to drafting success and organizational success, although there is a stronger correlation to drafting failure and organizational ignominy. Teams like the Canadiens, Red Wings and Nordiques were among the best drafting teams and later became successful on account of that ability. At the same time the Sabres, Rangers, and Bruins were also among the top of the drafting class during the same period but in large part did not reap any significant rewards as a result of this ability.

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

  • srbuhr

    I am a little worried of comparing a goalie with Chicago defense with one in front of Edmonton’s. Would hope this would be a low cost addition and for a support role only. Upgrading the defense would have a greater impact on save percentage IMO FWIW.

  • LinkfromHyrule

    overpaying for a backup would be moronic. I would be happy with any of the three names that have been thrown around, but I think given a defence not full of plugs Dubnyk could start throwing up some stellar numbers. I have seen many flashes of brilliance from him. He will be our #1 eventually, but he is young.

  • Looks like it’s a buyers market for goalies. Yah, there isn’t a lot of elite talent (well, maybe none), but there are several choices that would make good backups. So hopefully MacT and co. do not overspend here.

    As for Belanger, this looks like a compliance buyout. It’s already on Capgeek, and it shows $0 as the cap hit.

    I actually would have preferred a regular buyout, as his contract can’t be that much damage on the cap this/next year, and it lets us save the extra buyout, just in case. But good enough by me.

    Actually, can’t say for sure it’s a compliance buyout.. but CapGeek is listing it that way currently. He is not listed on the NHL.com tracker yet though.

  • Its Early – but i feel again it is going to be tough unless we way
    overpay to entice decent players here. I love my City , yeah its a tough town, the weather is fine in the summer, Winter sucks but hey this is where you want to play Hockey, there are other great cities to play in for sure but E-town is a tough sell unless we over pay. I just cant wait to
    laugh in the faces of those who WILL all of the sudden come here
    when we are a legit contender. At that time, go piss up a rope.

    Mactavish in my mind has it tougher than pretty much any other GM
    trying pursuade high end talent to come here. I think we are just going to have to develop our own for the most part. I hope i am wrong.

    Lets Go Mac DO YOUR BEST.

      • Yesterday morning, Bob Mac tweeted this:

        “Today at 12 noon is the last chance to put players on unconditional ($100) waivers for purposes of a compliance buyout this year.”

        This does make sense too, since the compliance buyout deadline is today at 5pm. Waivers take 24 hours (48 over weekends I think) to complete, so that means they would have needed to be initiated yesterday before noon, like Bob said. So I’d say again, this is a regular buyout. But that is fine. This also is my preference… it’s not big enough of a contract to me, to waste the compliance buyout. We will want to use it on Horcoff possibly (if still here next year), and plus it is good “currency” to use in a trade… send us your player to buyout, but it will cost you a player.

        • LinkfromHyrule

          So this means neither Horcoff nor Hemsky will be a compliance buyout?!? Fan-effing-tastic. Real bold MacT. Real bold.

          As for goalies, Emery would be good but Khudobin would be better.

          • Pretty much this. At this point, why would you spend 5 million a year to not have a 3rd line center. Maybe next year if we have cap issues he can buyout Horcoff then.

            When you look at how shallow the UFA pool is, unless he can pull of a major trade, it looks like we are going to need those two in the lineup in the fall. Especially with Hopkin probably not being ready to start the season.

          • You’d seriously buy out Hemsky? Whats wrong with you? And not buying out Horcoff suggests they know they can get something for him which is therefor better than buy out. I don’t know what fans are really expecting. Wait and decide over the next week or two.

          • Reg Dunlop

            The verbal was that if MacT was cutting ties with Horc and Hemsky, he was just waiting for the season to end to announce the trades. Guess what? Season ended and no announcement. The oil will not get anything for Horc unless they keep 75% of his salary and Hemsky WAS worth a 2nd rounder, now maybe not even that. As far as waiting to decide how to rate MacT’s performance, oil fans have patiently waited 7 years, patience is worn out.

            Sorry to bring up he who should not be named, but DSF reminds me of the Henry Fonda character in ’12 Angry Men’. Standing alone against everyone else, continually trying to sway opinion his way while even the evidence supports him and others ignore the evidence…

          • 1) I dont remember MacT ever saying he had trades and was waiting for end of season, that was speculation by msm and bloggers. (stand to be corrected)
            2) You cant keep 75% of salary
            3) Hemsky value is at its highest once most of the free agents are gone and ppl still need guys.
            4)MacT’s been on the job like less than 2 months or something its not his fault we’ve been waiting this patiently.
            5)I think you are undervaluing those two. Return wont be astronomical but something should come of them.

        • Metal&Oil

          Shortly after that Bobby Mac tweet he made another : ” Correction: Players being bought out can be put on unconditional waivers today or tomorrow, not just today”

          Makes sense since Grabovski was put on unconditional waivers today.

    • It sounds like Grabovski was placed on waivers this morning and will count as a compliance buy-out. This compliance/non-compliance buy-out stuff is confusing. Hopefully the Oilers don’t use a compliance buy-out on Belanger. That would be a total waste.

      I know that MacT said they won’t use a compliance buy-out on Horcoff, but I don’t see any other way of getting rid of him. Maybe there’s still a chance.

      • Interesting… maybe the man was wrong, for once (Bob McKenzie). Sportsnet is calling it a compliance buyout, as you said.

        And as for Horcoff, I do agree.. unless we retain salary in a trade. I dont think that would be a good situation though. I suspect he’ll be back for another year. They probably should have just bought him out.

  • this would be a bad move, and larbarbera even worse. the fact that dooby wants labarbera shows you what he think of him, he wants no competition….the opposite should be happening. we should be looking at Thomas and even looking at trying some sort of interesting blockbuster such as:
    gagner+Dooby+Prjvi for Ott+Miller+Myers. just sayin..

    • oilerjed

      It might have been said before but after reading your post I have to say I love the irony of your name. Thomas Really!! How much do you figure we should pay for another 40 year old goalie, screams like a rehash of Khabby.

      The trade wouldnt be terrible except:
      A) Miller seems to be a cancer in the dressing room.

      B)Buffalo never makes this trade, I like Gags and PRV but only Gags has shown he can do it in the NHL. Prv may this year but hasnt yet. They may like Dooby though.

  • I hope the oilers are not considering any players that could be a distraction to the dressing room. We should have positive role models for these kids that we spent all this time lossing to get. As old as Tim Tomas is he is a bit weird but keeps a positive attitude and has a resume that none other can compete with. He would push dubnek to better himself with threatening him of his job. I hope Mac t does this right. All we need is another over paid bum in the dressing room

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Dubnyk needs a chance to play behind an actual NHL defense. The guy is underrated, in my opinion. Signing a 1b to push him is a no-brainer, but I truly believe Dooby is our guy.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing Hall rip it up next year, he’s been our best player since we drafted him and he’s only getting better.

    Here’s hoping Klefbom is everything we want (and need) him to be. Nurse, Klefbom, Schultz jr., and Petry looks like a potentially solid top 4 – in a few years anyway. I would love to see MacT pick up Blum, if Eakins can turn him around, Craig would look like a genius.

  • CaptainLander

    TSN has Belanger listed in their compliance buy-out list. He gets $416,666 over the next 2 years. Hope this is a mistake. That’s a complete waste of a compliance buy-out. Bad move by MacT if this is true.

      • Not the original person you replied to, but my thoughts…

        I don’t think it’s a BAD decision, but I don’t think it would have been bad to just use a regular buyout….

        For starters, it would be a shade under $600k per year for this year and next year for the cap hit involved in this buyout. Not too terrible.

        As to who we could use it on, well, there is Horcoff, so I’ll count him as 1… for the other, it likely wouldn’t be anyone on the Oilers.. but you never know. But I’d say they could have held on to it just in case and traded for a player to buyout (to get a better player included in the deal). That’s unlikely to happen though, as I’m sure Katz doesn’t want to piss away money.

        Anyways, it’s not a bad idea to do either form of buyout, imho. This is fine.

        • oilerjed

          Daly come out last week and clarify that trading for players just to buy them out was not going to be allowed. Was there a time frame ie:1yr that makes this legit?

          Also TSN is reporting that Seguin may be traded to Dallas for Eriksson. Would be great to have the Taylor Vs Tyler battle for 4-5 games a year.

          • Reg Dunlop

            I use to think Chirreli was a good GM. I like Erickson, but really, who gives up on guy who could be a 1st line.center. The west is gettingstronger with Dallas, and Colorado, Nashville getting some real talent. Don’t think the Oil are keeping up with the Jones.

          • Did he? I thought what he was clarifying was that you couldn’t buy out a player, and trade for that same player down the road after someone signed him.

            Didn’t know he also said you can’t trade for a player than buy them out. If so, then yah, Belanger compliance buyout makes 100% sense, and a regular buyout does not.

          • That article talks about a trade/buyout/reacquire scenario, which is what I am talking about (different than what you are saying, unless I misunderstood your point or you misunderstood me).

            The “illegal” scenario is this:

            Team A has expensive player that they really want for cheaper.
            Team B trades for player.. and buys him out, presumably for an asset of some sort

            Team A then re-signs the player at a discount.

            That is clearly not allowed, and the scenario that the article is talking about.

            The other scenario that I’mt alking about is this:

            Team A has expensive player that they don’t want.

            Team B trades for that player and buys them out, giving some sort of asset in return.

            Team A goes on the merry way and never sees the player again.

            I believe this scenario is legal, and what I am talking about when I say the Oilers could trade for players to buyout to gain assets.

            The big difference in the two scenarios is that Team A reacquires the player again after (thus getting a cheaper deal), which is definitely not allowed by the NHL, but I haven’t seen anything saying scenario 2 is not allowed.

  • If Hemsky or Horcoff are not bought out right now…they can each be traded so there is no worries…so far….but for who/what, I am not sure anymore.

    This goalie article/info is real interesting cause I would want Khudobin first before the others. However, while Emery was my second one, I have read he wants to stay in Chicago very much. I feel Dubnyk did more than well enough to stay a the #1 but the Oilers need a good healthy confident back-up who can take over #1 duties any time.

    Both Khudobin and Emery should be top priority in the Oilers moving up.

    Now that Belanger is gone it obviously becomes either Lander’s job to move in to the 4th line now or the Oilers go get a gritty centre.

  • Acumen

    Yep, a compliance buy out for Belanger makes perfect sense for me. Consider that only people signed in the previous CBA can be bought out in this manner.

    The only other candidate we have for it this year or next is Horcoff, or the bad contract we would be getting back for him (say a Ryan Malone).

    I hoped they would compliance Horc as well though.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If Emery is looking to establish himself as a starting goaltender, Edmonton is certainly the path of least resistance.

    Looks at the Oilers blueline depth, check that, scratch that thought.

  • oliveoilers

    Emery would be a nice addition , but I doubt he’ll choose us if he doesn’t have a better than 50% chance at being our NBR. 1 goalie . He’ll go wherever he can be NBR.1 , or else he’ll just stay with Chicago . Looks like we are being used as a pawn to drive up his contract demands with Chicago . Too bad , I’d like to see him here . Labarberra I have never been fond of .

  • Dangerous Neil

    Nice, I think an injury prone, party boy, locker room cancer is exactly what the Oilers need. Nice work Mac T. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    • MKE

      Ya he clearly sucked the life right out of Chicago and they couldn’t wait to get rid of him…

      So much so that they are trying to resign him!

      Some guys do actually grow up.

  • MKE

    The Oilers got rid of a cancer in the room today.The mistake would have been bringing Eric back this year. And MacT does know that he can get value for Hemsky and Horcoff. Just wait and see

    I can’t believe free agency hasn’t even started yet and people are already all over MacT. Give the guy a chance

    • Quicksilver ballet

      They still have time to offer Horc the same deal. Hopefully they can accomplish moving 83 and 10 out. This team needs to make a fresh start without this baggage setting the tone in the dressing room.

      The guys that are brought in to replace these guys should be on short term deals/just a body to keep the roster spot warm. Create a vacancy/opportunity for someone else inside or outside of the organization.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    My thoughts on Horcoff and Hemsky:

    They will get traded, but I believe it will come after all the anarchy of free agency and the trades for the upper echelon players is finished.

    Once teams lock up most of their rosters they will know what they can trade.

    Don’t hate on Mac-T. I don’t believe it’s him. I believe it’s the worth of the assets that’s holding back any deal(s).