CONGRATS, YOU’RE GOING TO EDMONTON

Ben Scrivens was decidedly understated today when Jason Gregor and I asked him if joining the Edmonton Oilers was his big chance to prove he’s a bonafide NHL starter — a timely opportunity, seeing as he’s approaching unrestricted free agency. One can hardly blame him.

Scrivens, a native of Spruce Grove who has just 51 NHL games on his resume at the age of 27, wasn’t going to get that chance playing behind Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, so I was a bit surprised he didn’t sound more pumped about the deal that landed him back in Alberta.

Scrivens talked about not putting the cart before the horse and downplayed the bigger picture Gregor and I were trying to paint. Fair enough. Can’t blame a guy for not flapping his gums to a couple media guys on live radio just hours into trying absorb a trade. He was getting ready to board his flight to join the Oilers on the road when we talked.

Then again, I’m assuming that, while Scrivens relishes a chance to play in a city where he’ll have to compete for the crease with Ilya Bryzgalov instead of Quick, he’s smart enough to know if he’s going to prove to any team, including the Oilers, he’s ready for prime time and a fat UFA contract, the opportunity comes with, shall we say, challenges.

If Scrivens can make it here, he can make it anywhere.

ONCE AN OILER . . .

On the upside for Scrivens, Quick is out of the equation. On the downside, so is Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov and the rest of a Los Angeles defense that’s deeper and more talented than any group Oiler GM Craig MacTavish and coach Dallas Eakins can put in front of him right now.

In the Oilers, Scrivens joins a team that’s 26 points behind the Kings in Western Conference standings. He goes from a team that has a decent chance to win a Stanley Cup to a team that’s a lock to be a lottery team for the fifth straight year on the way to missing the playoffs for an eighth straight campaign.

In the Oilers, Scrivens joins a team that’s allowing an average of 3.55 goals per game through 49 games and is on pace to allow 291 goals. Simply put, it’s going to take a helluva lot more than a pending UFA like Scrivens – and the addition of journeyman ham-and-egger Matt Hendricks in another deal today – to turn that around.

Tending the four-by-six behind this bunch chewed outgoing Devan Dubnyk up before he got his ticket to Nashville in the Hendricks deal today. A faded Nikolai Khabibulin couldn’t get anything done here. Bryzgalov, who could not get an NHL job before the Oilers came calling, has had his moments, but has been mediocre at best (.902 with a 3.27 GAA) so far. Playing behind a team this full of holes on the blue line will do that to a stopper.

Is Scrivens good enough to overcome the team playing in front of him? I don’t know, but he arrives with less impressive credentials than Bryzgalov and the broken-down Khabibulin. I don’t see Scrivens, by the numbers at least, as a proven step-up from Dubnyk.

Understated is probably the way to play it, Ben.

WHILE I’M AT IT . . .

. . . I’ve got no argument with MacTavish trading Dubnyk. It was clear from his first comments about Dubnyk as GM that MacTavish wasn’t sold on the former Kamloops Blazer as a No. 1 goaltender. Playing behind a bad team or not, Dubnyk didn’t do enough to change his mind.

If MacTavish and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, who have watched Dubnyk, 27, since he turned pro, weren’t convinced he was the guy by now, that wasn’t going to change. Best to move him along.

. . . Analyst Matthew Barnaby said today via Twitter Hendricks turned down more money from the Oilers as a UFA to sign with Nashville: "I’m told Hendricks turned down more money from EDM in offseason but chose Nash for better fit." Hmm.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • S cottV

    When Scrivens numbers take a nose dive in the Oiler system, hopefully Oiler fans will start to direct anger at the system and not our goaltenders. Our goalie support is so bad, that you cant even really evaluate them properly.

    This run and gun – offense first – old Oiler culture, has to go.

    Give me the Kings culture – any day. I appreciate the heavier game played with more structure and good defence. Winning – way more than losing, is also much easier to embrace.

  • Kr55

    I think that we should all remember that if this team was really good for a number of years, we’d be getting rid of players that played poorly. It shouldn’t differ just because the Oilers are a bad team.

  • Kr55

    This morning I have been reading those many comments many have stated here and I agree the short term future does not look good for the Oilers right now ….but….this does not mean that the Oilers lose out on these two new players either.

    IMO, if in his position…I would do just like Scrivens and say my type answers and thoughts as just the way he did because….being from Spruce Grove originally…. he absolutely knows how tough and fanatical the sports press and fan base are in this area…and he does not need to be considered the next saviour for as added pressure.And, he knows the Oilers are still a huge work in progress…

    As for whether or not he will be here next season???? who cares right now. He can play this year and show all he can be and he can also still be traded by the deadline and/or…he may want to stay here after all…for…say three more years (new contract).

    As for Hendricks…..concerning the issue of money or being with a team that is likely strong enough for a playoff position…he is now 32 and likely wants a stanley cup before his career ends. Dont blame him for that..

    For now I give MacT credit and he improved two positions somewhat. (Dubnyk has played like major crap this year and he has had more than enough time to be a very good goalie. We need size and meanness back in this lineup and from a player who can play very decent hockey and thats where hendricks fits in.) Thats MacT’s job isnt it??….to make improvements and get this team going. So he did something for now….Yeah yeah he has to make more better and bigger moves but I see and hear that no teams are knocking down his door for Hemsky, Gagner, Ryan Smyth, Nick Schultz, Jones, Grebeshkov, Belov, Bryzgalov, etc…right now.

    So…the trade deadline is coming up soon and lets see where this all goes before there’s huge whining some more… I know the team is gonna miss the playoffs again but…concerning a draft position…I also can see Eckblad coming in to be #1 and 1A with Nurse for the future too.

  • Hemmercules

    Oilers management has to look at things from a business standpoint and I understand that. You can’t base all your moves on the fact that this guys wife wont like Edmonton and that guy didnt want to play here before. Tough situation for sure but the bottom line is bringing in players that will improve your team.

    Hendricks is a slight improvement for the team but nothing special. Any player will feel sour going to a crap team but I expect him to be a professional, take his overpayment and play hard for the Oilers. He probably wishes now that he just took extra money from the Oilers in the beginning since he ended up there anyway. Sucker.

    Scrivens will have to play the best hockey of his life just to have a shot at signing somewhere this summer in my opinion. At best he plays ok and the Oilers or another team sign him for 1 year (Oilers having to overpay of course!). Judging by the wife situation, he likely takes any deal that brings him back to the states.

    In the end, these trades probably leave the Oilers with one less draft pick, a decent all around 3-4 liner and no goalies this summer when Brysgalov likely signs a short deal elsewhere.

    Doesn’t look like a win to me unless somehow Scrivens plays lights out and signs a contract.

  • Bryzarro World

    I cannot freaking believe MacT and Kblowe would trade for a guy who didn’t want to come here and turned them down.

    In combination with the retention of half of Dub’s salary, this showed me that there is now ABSOLUTELY NO HOPE of ever turning things around with these yoyos at the wheel.

    No more F$@Ks to give anymore. Just sad. Very sad…

  • Bryzarro World

    Read that little article in regards to Ben’s wife and yup, he is gone after this season if anyone will give him a sniff.

    Look at her. He can commit career suicide or keep tapping that a$$. Which would you choose?

    • #ThereGoesTheOilers

      If I’m Ben Scrivens, I choose the opportunity that’s just been handed to me. He has been given a three-month audition to be a starting goaltender for an NHL team. If he’s a professional and if he has any desire to be something more than a caddy for a superstar-goalie in a warm-weather non-hockey market, then he just got handed a golden opportunity. His wife should understand that, too.

      Yes, make all the snide comments about Edmonton’s (lack of) defence, its fishbowl environment or the city’s cold climate or lack of SoCal amenities. But the bottom line is the bottom line: Ben Scrivens chose to play a winter sport that’s actually played during the winter in a few NHL cities … and at a position where there are only two jobs per team.

      The most disappointing news yesterday had nothing to do with the trades MacT made. Rather, it was the tired, par-for-the-course reaction from certain (non-local) members of the media. Saw a few posts from guys like Bruce Arthur noting Mrs. Scrivens’ tweets and the conclusions that were drawn from them.

      Given that no one conducted any … you know … actual interviews with her, it does make you wonder if the whole players-hate-going-to-Edmonton-because-of-the-weather is actually based on anecdotal evidence, or if it’s simply become Standard Operating Procedure for certain members of the media to go searching for circumstantial evidence that the player or his family might hate having to come earn millions playing a winter sport … during the winter … in a city that actually has winter.

      Obviously, the Oilers are terrible and players might have certain misgivings about joining the gong-show here, but speculating on the non-hockey reasons for not coming has become tiresome … and a bit insulting, actually, to someone like me who grew up in northern Alberta (Grande Prairie) and is proud to call this place home, 365 days of the year.

      I know that all sounds melodramatic … but Edmonton, the city, has nothing to prove to anyone, really – least of all, Scrivens, who grew up here. He’s the one who’s got the proving to do. Scrivens, his wife, his agent – all should understand that. If they don’t, we don’t want the guy.

      • **

        Very well said Bro, Very well said. it has become tiresome to hear
        the crap this city and surrounding areas have taken, If you don’t like
        leave please It pains me some players complain about having to play / live here for what ? 10 + years of your life if that actually and only during hockey season. Most, if they are smart with their money can retire in
        a warm climate by the time they are 40 ish if not sooner. Sorry, i dont have that luxury. And to tell you the truth, i will always have a home here even if i did. Yeah , i would have a vacation home somewhere warm but this City has great tough hard working people. Calgarians have slammed this city but tell me this, who were some of the first to help when your City Flooded ? It was us , Edmonton. Because thats what we do.

        Again – well said.

    • **

      I dunno, I’d be pretty pissed if someone made me live in T.O. for 3 years too lol!

      Her last tweet says she’s excited for Scrive’s hometown. We’re just dysfunctional enough to welcome one more nut to our party right? lol!

  • 2004Z06

    The important read here is how understated Scrivens was during the interview. NO ONE WANTS TO PLAY for the Oilers.

    REASON: LOWE and MAC T

    We need a cultural overhall that is going to take a few years for players to trust the Oilers organization. Right now. Oilers are the laughing stock of the league.

  • Kodiak

    Combine Belanger/Eager/Brown/Smithson, four failures here and you get Hendricks. He had the worst corsi rating on the Preds and is top ten worst in the league. We will pay him almost $2m/yr for the next three years. These types of players (but probably better) are fairly readily available for under a million. Why would anyone in their right mind figure we need this?

    Then we give up possibly the 60th pick in the draft to acquire a goalie that will most likely walk at seasons end so he can maybe give us a handful more wins than Dubnyk would have in an already lost season.

    The Scrivens deal I can actually live with, but there is no reason why we couldn’t have acquired him and kept Dubnyk or gotten a draft pick for him as opposed to acquiring another marginal and overpriced hockey player in return.

    These deals do not improve us in any way next season, they actually hurt us and who cares about this season, it’s already a write off. What a joke. Of all the deals MacT has made, only the Perron deal made us noticeably better. All the others were lateral or backwards. We suck. Screw the lateral moves and fill some of the glaring holes.

  • **

    Hendricks must be feeling pretty silly right now. It’s worrisome to learn that MacTavish was willing to give this guy even more money than what Nashville is paying him. Not unlike David Clarkson’s situation, what a bullet Mac T dodged there.

  • **

    Unfortunately this has Eakins written all over it. If you are going to trade with LA take Jones. The guy has the potential to be a phenom.

    But then again the issue here likely isn’t the goaltending or defense per se but the coach in charge of them.

    Dubnyk would have been far more effective with either Sean Burke (Pheonix) or Bill Ranford (LA) or Francois Allaire (Colorado) behind them.

    Too bad we couldn’t trade for Ranford and Jones, but then again Eakins has no history with them so they would have been simply sent to the minors….

  • **

    Not a very nice thing to show Ben’s wife’s tweets. And Toronto WASN’T his home town. I’m sure she is aware of what Edmonton is like from family visits. And Ben, ALL you have to do is better Bryz’s stats and you’ll be number 1. Win and you’re in, simple as that. Show us all what a local boy can do – remember Grant Fuhr was a Spruce Grove boy too, and look what happened to the Oilers with him as netminder. Welcome to you, and Matt and good luck.

  • **

    If she truly loves and supports her husband, Mrs. Scrivens should cause no problems. However, if she proves to be like the woman who married AND divorced BOTH Richard Zednik and Dustin Penner, then he’s in for big trouble. Of course, she may turn out to be another Mrs. Pronger, hell, that wouldn’t be good either. I think we should give Mrs. Scrivens the benefit of the doubt – she knows Edmonton, it’s her husband’s home town and surely the in-laws will keep her in line!

  • **

    Sorry – one last thing. For Ben: you have the chance to shine, you have the chance to become a superstar, you have the chance to become our saviour, you have the chance to make a huge difference to our team and fan morale, you have the chance to PROVE you are a #1 goalie in the NHL, you have the chance to surpass Bryz in numbers – so stand on your head buddy, do what you do best and what you love. Do this and you’ll be a God in Edmonton. Only the Oilers can raise a man from obscurity to a hero in 40 seconds flat. Playoffs may be out of sight, but a long winning streak and rising up in the west standings will make us all very very happy.

  • UnderOil

    Did we belt a grandslam out of the park with this trade? -no. Are there personnel changes still required in the lineup? -plenty. But taking the 500-foot view of the franchise at this point is tiresome.

    We got a promising young goalie who has an opportunity to become an NHL starting goalie in his home town. How it turns out only time will tell, but its a pretty f’n cool situation imo.

  • reaperfunkss

    This team is a joke. Lowe and mact made things worse. Traded for a guy who took less money to not be here. How is that an intelligent move? I don’t think any NHL player really wants to be here. Not the city people it is incompetent management.

    To the fans who have stopped drinking the kool-aid i suggest we make contact with Cleveland Browns fans and maybe we can make a support group for hardcore fans of crappy teams and idiotic owners. Both groups deserve MUCH better than their favorite teams are giving them.

    To the fans who still believe in management, bless you but please wake up.

    I watch and laugh and hope katz realizes what a pro team should be.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    If we can all agree that these two gentlemen will not address much more than a smidgen of the deficiencies our team has, then what is all this discussion about? The only news here is that Dubnyk is getting a new start. Glad for him.

  • Rdubb

    Seriously people, quit freaking talking about how good LA’s defence is, look @ the number of shots they give up day in and day out, they are very similar to what Edmonton gives up, maybe more. The only real difference is that Edmonton may give up a few more “prime time” scoring chances per game, but other than that, everything looks pretty much equal.
    Yes, LA has the D-men mentioned in the article, but they still give up a ton of shots, LA has played 1 less game but has given up 100 more shots, basically just over a spg more than Edmonton has to this point. In reality, LA has given up the MOST shots in the NHL to this point in the season…
    Just saying…
    Peck