Report: Edmonton Oilers to sign Jason LaBarbera


Photo: Michael Wifall/Wikimedia

Rumour has it that the Oilers will kick off free agency by signing goaltender Jason LaBarbera.

The report comes from CTV’s Adam Cook:

LaBarbera’s name also came up yesterday, when it was mentioned by TSN reporter Ryan Rishaug. Aside from the fact that incumbent starter Devan Dubnyk knows and likes him, his results over the last while have been pretty good:

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.

As was noted in that post "league average" is a bit of a misnomer, since starters (and their superior save percentages) get more games than backups – a league-average goalie save percentage-wise is generally performing in the range we would expect of a bottom-third NHL starting goalie.

If this report turns out to be accurate, this is a strong player for the Oilers to add, and a guy who can fill-in for Dubnyk and step into more minutes if the incumbent falters. Additionally, because of his lower profile and the perception that LaBarbera is a backup only, it seems likely that his contract is going to be pretty reasonable relative to performance.

We’ll know more soon. 

      • 2004Z06

        And you would prefer a 5.5 cap hit for a third line center in Horcoff? We replaced Horcoff with a stronger, younger, reliable, defensively responsible face off winner and saved 2.5 in cap space per year for 2 years. Plus we have him for an additional year. Yeah….horrible deal.

  • bazmagoo

    Ference? That is the solution to the D? BRUTAL! He is 34 years old…and 5’10” 185lbs. He was able to play in the non-physical Eastern Conference but will find the physical Western conference tough. Four years at 3.25 each…wow! This is the shakeup MacT promised? Deal away Horc for basically nothing and then overspend on an undersized D-Man. His agent said the Oilers “tabled the best offer by far and this allows Andrew to return home”. Once again the Oilers overpay.

    • bazmagoo

      Dude, do you actually watch hockey?

      Your saying Boston is NOT physical??

      In a perfect world 2-3yr deal is what you strive for, Ference has earned his “stripes” though, and with 2 kids, can demand at least 4 yrs of stability (probably has a no trade too)

      McT has done more this week than Tambi ever did!!!

      Go Oilers Go!!!!!!

      • LinkfromHyrule

        Actually probably watch far more hockey than you could ever dream of. And yes Boston is a physical team…but Ference is not a physical player. There is a difference to a team playing physical against other teams…and having teams play physical against you.

        No arguement about the Tambi/MacT comparison…I just don’t feel that the Oilers are better today with Labarbera, Ference, Gordon, and Larsen…than they were a few days ago. But maybe that 7th round pick will pan out.

        • Reg Dunlop

          If you watch way more hockey than I do, you’re well aware that for a smaller Dman, Ference plays pretty physical. Has over 30 scraps under his belt!!! What a “softie”!!!

          Time will tell on the trades, but it’s a lot better than NO moves

          Go Oilers Go

          • Actually his NHL Record indicates 21 NHL Fighting majors…thats pretty close to 30. I know the entire Eastern Conference breathed a sigh of relief when Andy left…they were so worried that they would have to drop the gloves against him. Three of those majors were in the past three years. At least he will be a good dressing room guy.

          • oilerjed

            Cmon mazatlan, compared to potter, whitney, shultz, and shultz Jr you have to admit that this ia an upgrade on toughness and quality. Plus we still have 1 or two (Belanger?)compliance buyouts for next year if the poo hits the fan and our prospects are that ready.

          • oliveoilers

            Dude just looked it up, 32 fights in his career. 2 suspensions in the last couple of years for rough play!

            I’m not saying he’s the most physical player, just saying he “holds his own”. My REAL point was how absurd your original comment was. Ference is a HUGE help to this team!!! Edmonton is a MUCH better team on paper than they were a week ago!!! Get with the program!!!

            Go Oilers Go !!!

          • 2004Z06

            Didn’t sign him to fight. Thats not his job. He competes hard every night, plays with grit, eats 20 min a night and is a veteran presence that shows all of our young D the way. He is also in unreal shape and is a pest to play against.

            Clearly you aren’t able to watch hockey in Mazatlan. Lay off the tequila, or get out of the sun for awhile.

          • G Money

            Ference good value, term is a bit long. Steve Staios tyoe. A bit undersized, but a Pitbull who has Cup experience. I don’t like the term but the guy will give you all hes got. The guy needs no babysitting,.

            Labarbera is perfect. Good guy, good contract, good backup.

            Boyd Gordon, like the guy, but 3 years for a 4th liner. Not sold on term.

            All in all, decent value, no complaints. When do we get our Whale?

        • LinkfromHyrule

          labarbera is not 41 and injured all the time.

          Ference is a veteran D who has won the cup and been a consistent top 4 on that team.

          Gordon is horcoff minus the horrid contract and minus 5 years of age.

          We dumped horcoff for Larsen to get rid of salary.

          How on earth can you say we aren’t better today than we are yesterday?!

  • bazmagoo

    Ference? That is the solution to the D? BRUTAL! He is 34 years old…and 5’10” 185lbs. He was able to play in the non-physical Eastern Conference but will find the physical Western conference tough. Four years at 3.25 each…wow! This is the shakeup MacT promised? Deal away Horc for basically nothing and then overspend on an undersized D-Man. His agent said the Oilers “tabled the best offer by far and this allows Andrew to return home”. Once again the Oilers overpay.

    • G Money

      You are shocked that the Oilers overpaid? Is this because you feel:

      – a top 4 D playing 19+ minutes a night (24+ mins in the playoffs) on a Stanley Cup finalist is never going to garner the competitive interest of GMs as to allow for any sort of a bidding war


      – the Oilers are such a good team and Edmonton is such an appealing large market warm weather city that UFAs (and their spouses) will always take a discount to play here


      – Free Agency season in general is a time of year when GMs and players work together so that every team can get exactly the players it needs at the best possible prices

      Or maybe a combo of those three? Yeah, I’m with you there brother.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I went to High School with Andrew Ference. Did a project with him in grade 10 social studies. He is a Sherwood Park kid and was an oilers fan. He is a good guy, good sense of humor, works hard.

  • Connor Snipes

    Ference brings competitiveness and a culture change professionally speaking for this young team. Term is long for an older player but MacT had to do so to win over other teams.

  • oliveoilers

    to all you Debbie downers: This guy has been a constant on a very, very good hockey team. And you thought we’d sign him for what? Pay peanuts, get monkies. What the hell more do you want? Sid, Geni and Letang straight across for our AHL prospects and all locked in to 7 yrs @ 1mill a year? Honestly, if some of you were given a million dollars, you’d complain it was all in fifties. There is a fine line between the realistic, pragmatist approach you think you are portraying and the cynical for cynical’s sake which is how you’re actually coming across.

    It is actually refreshing to have a glass of Kool-Aid once in a while……oh, yeah!

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    @JNH…and MacT proved it was untradeable by what he got in return. Every contract is tradeable if you are willing to take enough crap back. Canucks had offers for Luongo’s brutal deal just weren’t willing to pull the trigger on a crappy deal.

    Big question…with Horc gone. And Larsen here…are the Oilers a better team? No way.

    Then add Ference…does that break them into the playoffs? Still don’t see it.

    Very disappointed in the Oilers moves so far today.

  • LinkfromHyrule

    macT you sly dog. Not necessarily what I would call bold but this is steps in the right direction! We have our 3C, our backup, and a veteran D which will probably end up buried in the minors in 2-3 years but hey we are loaded on defensive depth now.

    Bye Bye Schultz sr/potter/a prospect or two?

  • oliveoilers

    Not sure that LaB is the answer from a game winning perspective. His record in front of a relatively more solid defense is not a winning one.

    The one issue that the Oil need to pay attention to is cultivating a winning atmosphere here. What have Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, Gagner, and others been exposed to, save for a losing atmosphere? I would have preferred to overpay Tim Thomas for a single year and give the team a chance to savour a winning record, if not a chance to make the playoffs for a change. We are, and remain, weak in goal.

    • 2004Z06

      Seriously? It’s a 1 year deal for 1 million. Not exactly something to be bitching about. He is a very reliable back up with lots of experience that is great in the room. He also sends a message to Dubnyk that he IS the number one and has this year to prove it. Its a great pick-up.

  • Connor Snipes

    So far so good. The meat and potatoes are finally getting bought. Boyd Gordon as a defensive specialist is a good signing. He is the dialmetric opposite of Belanger. If Gordon gets 20 points I’ll be happy. He brings a decent FO percentage. Ference buys the organization time. Plus as a bonus he gets to play at home. Ft Sask guy. Labarbera. Need a legitimate back up.Got one. Horton to Columbus? What a pile of money for a pile of concussions. Hopefully the Oilers can get a couple of other meat and potato’s guys today.

  • Reg Dunlop

    The oil have the top performers locked in, now they have to add the pieces that contribute to a winning team. Ference in a mentor role, and he has some good hockey left in him and his wife hopefully not harping constantly, a very good add. Gordon, can replace Horc at 1/3 the cost. Good add. Compare these to 7 years of Horton who is a concussion away from drool town. 6 years of Clowe, slowing down year by year, will be a millstone in NJ. Clarkson, who will likely get 6 mil and term, way too much. MacT is rolling today.

    • oliveoilers

      6.5. Ouch. Horton gets hurt the last couple years about the same as Hemsky. However when you bring a certain element a GM will overpay. With all the young talent CBJ has they will have fun paying them with overpays like Wiz and Horton.

  • oliveoilers

    With the Khabi and Whitney contracts expired, the Souray buyout paid off, Horcoff traded and Belanger bought out, the Oilers have finally cleaned up the cap book and cleaned the slate to develop a new lockerrom culture, so there are 2 pluses right there.

    I like the signings of Ference, Gordon and Labarbera as they fill the needs for a reliable defender, a checking centre and a backup goalie, without messing up the cap book again. MacT will have the space to resign Nuge and Yak to long-term deals without worrying about the cap hell that other teams are signing themselves into (look at how Boston had to trade Seguin and let a top-4 defender in Ference walk away).

    Still need some gritty wingers and another center (preferably one who can displace Gagner at 2C) but I am assuming there are more signings to come.

    One question though… who the hell is Jesse Joensuu?

  • 2004Z06

    I am ECSTATIC that Mac T didnt overpay for one of these “top end FA’s”. I am sorry but Horton is a support player and Clarkson, altho valuable and would be a great fit, is NOT worth more than $5M a year. That money is for star players.

    Not sure what people were expecting but the Oilers are better now than they were at 10am.

    My only complaint is the Ference term but you are asking a guy to move his family including his kids to the deep north. Need to offer him security.