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.

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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.


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.

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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.


. . . 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.

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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.

  • Bucknuck

    The D last year was no better than it is this year (Ference is an upgrade over Whitney). Last year Dubnyk got a .920 save percentage and the year before that .914. So I would argue that .915 is a reasonable expectation if Scrivens is to make an argument that he is a number one.

    If Dubnyk did it for two years, then Scrivens should be able to. I’m not sure what happened to Dubnyk this year, but he was not the same goaltender as he was the previous two years.

  • reaperfunkss

    Spot on, Robin.

    Though he has good numbers now, just watch Scrivens’ save percentage plummet once he plays for the Oilers.

    Some people seem to think that — MacTavish included — that it was lousy goaltending that sunk the season. Yes is is true that Dubnyk’s goal tending is poor; however, It is a red herring to pin the season’s failure on Dubnyk. Like Robin said, there are many holes MacTavish needs to fill before this team is competitive.

  • Bryzarro World

    Been awhile since I last logged on and stated hockey opinion stuff here….

    I know the Oil season is down the drain again but….IMO….I am seeing the Oilers bringing improvement for one team position right now this year…and it is goaltending.

    Yeah yeah the Oilers just got Scrivens and the proof of him being very good for the team is not shown just yet….but the Oilers went out and saw somehing in Ty Rimmer and I like him. I am also very happy to see the Oilers let go Olivier Roy and get Brossoit who is tearing up the ECHL with awesome type goaltending in his rookie season already.

    These three are a definite good and needed improvement for the now and future over Dubnyk, Khabby, LaBarbara, Roy…..

    Now MacT seems to be justifiably working on getting the right type of third to fourth line guys and geting Hendricks to play centre/wing is so much better for the Oilers now than that of Belanger, Smithson, Eager, and then there are Jones, Acton,….

    Now….. the other many NHL teams wont be trading top defencemen now to the Oilers while the second half to playoff time season is coming up and going on…so stop with the whining about it. IMO….MacT will do something by the summer and….. I do so fricking fracking hope this is the last damn year the Oilers miss the playoffs….cause I am so tired of watching my team not do well at all. Go Oil and welcome to the team Scrivens and Hendricks.

  • Stack Pad Save

    Just got dealt from Cup-contender LAK. Today’s temp in the 80s.
    To perennial cellar-dwelling Mickey Mouse Club. Today’s temp I’m gonna guess -40.
    I’d be suicidal, never mind “understated.”

  • JSR

    Mr. Brownlee is surprised Ben Scrivens isn’t more pumped about getting traded to the worst team in the league, where his goalie stats will get run through the meat grinder for the next four months. Just in time lower his value even further before heading into free agency.

    I can’t imagine what the problem is either!

    The Oilers aren’t an opportunity, they’re a death sentence.

    PS, it seems strange to comment on the trading of Dubnyk (which no one I can see if complaining about) without mentioning the worse-than-nothing return MacT “dealt” for. Three years of non-factor for $2M. THAT’S what people are complaining about.

  • Spydyr

    Scrivens wife is an LA girl.She lives the LA life style.The chances of him signing here as a UFA is about as good as Pronger coming back.

    So Mac-T has traded a third round pick for a backup goalie on a lotto team.He will get three months in that role.

    Piss poor asset management, again.

  • Bloodsweatandoil

    Well, if those two do not want to be here, so what, they will get over it, its not like any of the top ten NHL teams were banging down doors to obtain their services.

    I am happy that moves were made, it had to happen and its a start. Mac T has to keep weeding the garden until September, every little bit helps.

    Taking Hendricks was taking salary back obviously and he will solidify the fourth line a bit more. Just a sign that our AHL’ers are not ready yet to assume roles and play in the bigs.

    Our defence is what it is and I hope Scrivens can hold in there, Dubnyk will probably rebound in Nashville and look good behind Weber and the rest of their defence.

    Now, I am waiting for an anticipated 3rd to 1st line trade and shake up for a defensemen or two.

    • 2004Z06

      The reason it matters if they don’t want to be here and never did? At least for Scrivens, it matters because how do you think you’re going to re-sign him here after this year, if he’s already disinterested in being here in the first place? I don’t see any marked improvement coming for the rest of the season, and I don’t see a goalie wanting to resign in front of our non-existent D. We’ll lose Scrivens, and the pick.

      As for Hendricks, it matters because if you so truly never wanted to be here, lost out on $ to avoid it the first go-round, my guess is he gets in the room, decides f-this, and upon realizing how bad this team is, hopes he can coast his way into a buyout. In any case, you get nothing out of him either.

      Yes, it doesn’t ALWAYS matter whether players want to be somewhere, but if you’re already talking about a really bad team, it does make a difference. Drag the room down a little more?

      Also, this should be considered a preview to this summer’s FA frenzy ppl think we’re going to have. We have guys, 4th line crappy players who probably didn’t have many other offers, turning down more $ to avoid EDM. What makes you think that was a one-off, and that we won’t have that same issue with every single FA we try to sign in the offseason?

  • JSR

    Here we go, everyone getting gushy with Mac T. He did something, he did something……. Problem is no matter what he does to this team in regards to players, he has already made the move that leaves a knife in the Oilers back. Eakins is not a NHL ready coach and Mac T made him his summer priority. This decision and this decision alone will haunt the team far more than any lack of D men, goaltender, or 3rd liners. With Mac T and Kevin Lowe behind the helm, expect what we get now to last awhile, a long while!

    • Kr55

      This is a very good post. What we will get in UFA’s with Eakins as a coach are players that played for the Marlies. That’s awesome we can load up on Toronto’s cast offs. No top notch UFA will ever sign here with Eakins as a coach and the management team they have in place in Edmonton. This organization is a total joke.

  • People think Hendricks signing with Nashville for less money says a whole bunch about Edmonton and how he doesn’t want to be here. I can’t deny that that is a possibility. Of course, there are other possibilities. It could mean his decision of where to play had very little to do with the money. A veteran player choosing a winner is not all that rare. With Weber and Jones they were expected to be better.

    When I first heard about the trade I thought it was a salary dump at first too. Then I read more and was suddenly much happier with the trade. The fact that Mact aggressively persued Hendricks in the off season is a good sign. The fact that we offered him more money means we got a better deal than we would have gotten had we negotiated directly with the player. The fact that teams that were much higher in the standings were willing to overpay for his service is promising. Lastly I am hoping having it not work out in Nashville will light a fire under his ass.

  • MacT, want to start improving your defense….
    FIRE Smith,s ask out of town at once. There are other teams with similar or less talent on defense that play a better game. The Oiler problems are bigger than just the players. Things have been terrible ever since ” let me get one for the other team” showed up behind the bench.

    And while your kicking asks, throw Bucky out the door, at least you will save on gum or what ever he keeps chewing.

  • Stack Pad Save

    I like the trades. I would have done Scrivins for Dubnyk straight up.

    Our 4th line just got better and tougher. The 3rd round pick likely would never had an impact.

    Now if we can trade Gagner for D
    sign Hemsky to 4 years at 12 million.
    Let Smyth walk at seasons end.
    Fire Chabot, Bucky, And Smith.
    Hopefully Katz has Kevin Lowe take off his Robin outfit, so Batman can finally see him for what he is; an emotional
    Ex-player, who got lucky in 2006.

  • Let’s see here. We have a goalie who is a FA after this season, who was “understated” about his trade. To me, that reads “Let’s not talk about me as the franchise goaltender here, because I am RUNNING away from this team as soon as my contract is up. Thanks for the hit my GAA will take, and good luck getting a real goalie”. Can’t blame him, either–with our “D”, he’ll look even worse than he is.

    As for Hendricks, he already turned down more $ from EDM. He does not want to be here. Never did–took less money to go elsewhere (also something to think about for future FA’s this offseason we seem to think we’ll get–even more $$ won’t always do it). Guy who doesn’t want to be here, a 4th line guy at best, and who knows if he’ll even have the heart/good guy in the room status here, bc hard to do that when you’re the only one, let alone when you’re someplace you never wanted to be.

    All in all, yes, they got rid of DD which was good. Beyond that, you signed two players who really don’t want to be here, one of whom I predict now will NOT be here in October. Good job. “Bold” moves that have absolutely no substantive effect

  • Spydyr

    Hendricks did not want to come here, turning down more money to go to Nashville. So trade for him that will make him want to come now.

    Surely he will come, he is a pro but who wants a guy on your team that does not want to be there?

    • S cottV

      Exactly. Yes, he’ll be here, but why MacT seems to think he can force this is beyond me.

      Then again, no one wants to be in Edmonton these days, and I would hazard a guess that includes our vaunted star players too. I would bet that given the chance, Hall, Ebs, all of those guys would be happy to jump ship immediately just to get the heck out of EDM

    • Kr55

      I was a bit disappointed to hear we offered Hendricks more than the 1.85M/year. I wonder if we offered more term too. That’s almost as bad as the Clarkson offer.

      Lucky Clarkson has a NMC, or the Oilers would be offering their 1st round pick this year to the Leafs for him 🙂