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.

  • 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.

  • reaperfunkss

    Here’s my prediction for how this goes over the next bit:

    1. Scrivens plays worse in EDM than in LA, and even though his offers will be even fewer now, refuses to re-sign in EDM.
    2. Bryz wants out, and would rather go back to Vegas to play than re-sign another year contract in this circus. So we’re out a starting G.
    3. We lose all but 2 Dmen we currently have, so we’re already dealing with totally new teammates, possible lack of chemistry, etc. We find out the hard way that no FA Dmen want to come to Edmonton, even if we try to overpay for them. We’re left scraping bottom of the barrel AND still overpaying to get enough Dmen to field a team.
    4. We can’t get rid of Gagner, so we’re stuck trying to figure out what to do with him–play him, or buy him out.
    5. Hemmer walks for nothing at the end of the season, and won’t resign for more than a year here, and for overpayment.
    6. Edmonton starts next season basically where we are now, if not worse. Continues to play terribly, finishing 2014-2015 in bottom 5 in league at best.
    7. By end of 2014-2015, Hall has quietly asked for trade out of this h3II hole

  • Stack Pad Save

    MacT’s strategy for trading the third for a pending UFA, set the bar high for when he goes to trade all the ufas. In all seriousness I hope he can get at least a couple seconds at the deadline and hopefully turn them into actual NHL players.

  • JSR

    Nice title, Brownlee!

    One bonus to being traded here this year, you’ll be golfing by mid-April, instead of not getting paid to play in the playoffs!

    I hope this thing gets turned around soon. It’s not much fun watching a perennial loser…

  • 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.

  • **

    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.

  • paul wodehouse

    Considering that Scrivens has only played half of season in LAK and was only be able to keep his job as backup to Quick simply because Kings want to keep Jones fresh in AHL that he shouldn’t feel anything negative because he was just never good enough. It is a tough task to play in EDM but to be honest that Oilers maybe the only chance that he can really get if he is hoping to become a legit No.1 NHL goalie into the future.

    And for Hendricks…sometimes it is better to just take the money especially for a 4th liner. A team is willing to overpaid a player for his service that the team will not stop on trying to trade for him even if that team cannot get him to sign as UFA. A lifelong 4th liner is very much expandable on lots of team’s roster especially on a big tough team like Nashville. So, welcome to Edmonton, no matter how much that you resist to play for.

  • 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.

  • 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 [email protected] to give anymore. Just sad. Very sad…

  • 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….

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Hemmercules

      I think what happened is Dubnyk is what he is, an inconsistent goalie that lets in a soft goal sometimes. He probably gets better numbers in Nashville with a better defense in front but he wont be a starting goalie on any team next year. I would take a smaller faster goalie over Dubnyk any day.

      Scrivens is hardly a replacement though, lateral move. He is likely also gone this summer for nothing unless Mact deals him at the deadline.

  • 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.

  • **

    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!

  • #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…