GDB 50.0: DO THE MOVES MATTER?

Instead of firing another head coach, Craig MacTavish has decided to move out some players who have been here for most of the losing. Ladislav Smid was traded earlier this year, and yesterday Devan Dubnyk was sent to Nashville for Matt Hendricks. MacTavish quickly replaced Dubnyk by acquiring netminder Ben Scrivens from Los Angeles. 

Will these moves make the Oilers better? 

I don’t see Hendricks making a major impact, but I also don’t expect 4th liners to be difference makers. His salary is too high for a 4th liner, but if he plays well, helps out on the PK and adds some energy then he could break even. The Oilers aren’t in a massive cap crunch and I don’t see anyone on the roster in line for a significant raise over the next two seasons, so I don’t see his $1.85 million cap hit hampering them financially. You can critique Hendricks the player, and have reservations about his play, but his cap hit is not going to hinder the Oilers.

Scrivens has an opportunity of a lifetime. He’s coming to a team that is desperate for adequate goaltending. He doesn’t need to be great, he just needs to be better than Ilya Bryzgalov’s .904 SV%, and if he can avoid allowing weak goals he’ll be considered an improvement.

Let’s make one thing abundantly clear, however, Dubnyk was not the main reason the Oilers are in 29th place.

He was brutal at the start of the season, but since November he has been no worse than the majority of the roster. I’ve heard and read suggestions that that his slow start ruined the Oilers season.

I’d say that is just a tad misleading.

No doubt he was brutal early on, especially against the Jets, Canadiens and Leafs. Had he played decent they win those games. However, when you look closer you realize that the Oilers winning % didn’t go up when Dubnyk was out of the lineup, it went down.

In the 29 games Dubnyk started the Oilers won 11 of them.
The 20 games he didn’t start they won 4.

The Oilers won 38% of the games he started, but only 20% of the games he didn’t. In case you are wondering in his 11 wins he only allowed 20 goals, so you can’t say the offence carried him. 

I’m not giving Dubnyk a free pass. He didn’t play well this year. He has to own that, but they Oilers need to realize that when he didn’t play they won 4 of 20 games. FOUR. I’d say they have many other issues besides Dubnyk.

The goaltending needs to be better, but after speaking to a few scouts and goalie coaches I’m not sold that Scrivens is an automatic upgrade.

Dubnyk played much better last season; however, he hasn’t been able to shed the "weak goal" label. Those goals were magnified on a losing team, and if he wants to be a starter somewhere else he’ll need to limit the softies. Scrivens is a good backup, but he’s yet to show he can be a starter. He’ll get every opportunity to prove he can be over the next few months.

Dubnyk didn’t look comfortable this year and to me it became clear the organization had lost faith in him, and I sense that Dubnyk’s confidence was waning. Sometimes you just have to realize that both sides are better off without one another, and I think that was the case.

I won’t be surprised if Dubnyk puts up decent numbers elsewhere, but I will be shocked if he re-signs in Nashville. With Pekka Rinne signed for another five seasons, I doubt Dubnyk wants to settle for a guaranteed backup role. I suspect he will sign with a team that doesn’t have a clear cut starter.

HENDRICKS…

He is a 4th liner who kills penalties, but he hasn’t produced much offence since he tallied 25 points in 2011. He is competitive and will battle, but some won’t be able to get past his $1.85 million salary for the next three seasons. If you expect him to produce a lot of points due to his salary, then you’ll be disappointed. He won’t bring much offence.

He’s never been a regular centre, but he has won 53% of the 700+ faceoffs he’s taken. I’d have him centre the 4th line the rest of the season. Smyth is better on the wall than he is down the middle.

At best he’s a 4th liner who kills penalties and will add some energy and break even offensively. The latter will be his biggest challenge, and MacTavish has opened himself up for criticism if Hendricks can’t be break even. 

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Gagner
Yakupov-Arcobello-Eberle
Perron-Gordon-Hendricks/Jones
Jones/Hendricks-Smyth-Gazdic

Ference-J.Schultz
Marincin-Petry
Belov-N.Schultz

Scrivens

Starting Scrivens was the obvious decision. He’ll want to make an impression right away and Bryzgalov wasn’t very good in Dallas. The Oilers are 2-16-3 in their last 21 visits to Minnesota, so any new face in the lineup could be a welcomed addition.

Hemsky is back in Edmonton getting his swollen ankle looked at. If it is just bruised, I’d sit him out until it was 100%, not 80 or 90, but 100% before I’d put him back on the ice. The Oilers need him healthy and at his best to maximize his trade value. He won’t re-sign to be a 3rd line RW next year, so they need to get something for him at the deadline.

Hendricks should play 4th line centre, mainly because Smyth is better on the wall, but Eakins suggested you might see him on the wing, possibly with Gordon. The Oilers like his energy, which is great, but he’ll need to generate some offence if you play him on the third line.

TONIGHT…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers haven’t had a lot of luck in the Twin Cities (inner Gene comes out) recently, but the new faces will give them a boost and they will skate away with a rare win in Minnesota. They get a break not having to face Niklas Backstrom — he is 25-4-1 all-time vs. Edmonton, although the way he’s playing maybe they would prefer to face him — and they score three on Darcy Kuemper to win 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: You can change the coach and the players, but the Wild are still a boring hockey team. They are 26th in scoring, but have the 10th best GAA. This game is a reminder of how awful it was to have to watch the Wild six times a year. Thankfully we are only subjected to it three times a year now.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Most stats suggest Hendricks won’t produce much offence, but he picks up a 2nd period assist and Oilersnation rejoices. Also, in a rare change of fortunes an Oiler scores against his former team when Nick Schultz scores his first of the season. Kyle Brodziak watches in disbelief. He was certain he would score tonight.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

 

 

  • 1983 and This Year

    Scene opens in Katz mansion. Lowe is in a leather chair, stroking a cat, flanked by Katz and MacT. Hendricks is led into the room, held by 2 guards.

    Lowe: Matt, remember what I told you last summer? That’s right, you hadn’t seen the last of me. Someday, you would be mine. And now you know — one way or another, I always get what I want.

    Katz points towards Rexall

    Katz: Now get in the pit with the others!

    MacT throws his head back and laughs maniacally

    End scene

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Darren Dregger breaking a trade rumour on Twitter…

    Sam Gagner to the the Canadian Women’s Olympic team for Haley Wickenhieser

  • pkam

    Oiler fans amaze me. Hendricks has not played one minute for the team and already the knives are out. I said the other day that in a re-build you don’t have to win every trade but you do have to win the key trades. This folks is not a key trade.

    Fans have been crying about no size, no grit, no energy and no compete. MacT acquires Hendricks who meets those criteria and every body is moaning that he won’t score, he won’t this, he won’t that. For goodness sake give him 10-15 games and then offer your thoughts but for now give him and MacT the benefit of the doubt. You are starting to sound like Leaf fans.

    • pkam

      The most ironic thing is, just a couple of weeks ago, some posters here complain that the management was doing nothing, and they said they would rather have some trades, any trade, than no trade, even we have to overpay.

      Hard to believe how fast they change their minds.

      • match16

        Its true. This losing atmosphere has brough out the greatest armchair gm’s in the world. The only thing is, is that when they say something one week and they get what they want the next week (size and grit…Hendricks comes along) they immediately go back on their word because it wasn’t the exact player they blogged they wanted (in some far fetched trade scenario they thought of.)

        This is real world trading ladies. Hendricks might not be the best 3rd or 4th liner with a not so great contract, but deal with it. If we gave anything else up (higher pick or more roster players) then you would just be pissed off that “we’re selling the future!”

        Bloggers always have the greatest ideas and the greatest excuses for their sh!tty ideas.

        yours truly,

        Jason “yes thats an earring” Gregor.

    • BLAKPOO

      You Sir, could not be more correct in my opinion.

      I hate the 8 years of futility as much as anybody else but wow,this is a tough crowd…

      My questions to the critics are these…

      How do you change a losing culture if you don’t make changes?

      How do you make changes if you are too scared to make a trade; because you may lose the trade,or there may(or may not) have been a better trade possible?

      Not to mention trading a goalie who is very obviously struggling on a last place team. Haven’t the majority in here(myself included) been saying it seems clear that the team appeared to have lost faith in Dubnyk’s ability to be a number one goaltender?

      The Oilers are not about to improve without taking a few chances…would you rather stand pat and keep what we have for yet another losing season?

      Where are all the people that were screaming to fire Tambo because he was too scared to make a trade?

      The Oilers are a complete and utter mess,we all get that.Ya gotta start somewhere

      We scream for change, and then criticize when change happens, before even one game has been played with the new players…makes no sense to me.

    • Randaman

      No need to worry. We are so far down the toilet drowning is a concern. WE SUCK!!! If anybody trashes this they are either too young to know better or completely dosed on MacT koolaid. Brutal!

    • Admiral Ackbar

      LMAO!!! the sad thing is, in 2 years most I can see Burke having the Flamers back into the playoffs. Why? because as much of an arrogant prick as he is, he doesn’t not accept mediocrity and actually holds people “accountable”. So really, it will have taken Burke 3 years to take them from the bottom of the barrel to top 8 in 3 years max, while KBlowe, and Mac Crap get their furniture measured at the new arena while going for all time NHL record 6 straight first draft picks!!!

  • Bryzarro World

    did anyone see the highlights after this horror show on Paul Maurice in Winnipeg. How he talks to the bench, the intensity and respect you see in the player’s faces? man…why did we not go after this guy again. Eakins just stands there with this f#%* look on his face all the time. What is he thinking? he looks lost out there. God I hate the Klowe and Mac Crap

  • Bryzarro World

    GOTTA LOVE THE OILER SYMPATHIZERS. THEY SAY….. MAC T HAS ONLY HAD 7 MONTHS. GIVE HIM A BREAK……….

    WELL, YOU PATHETIC, SYMPATHETIC REJECTS, ASK YOURSELVES HOW LONG MAC T GAVE KRUGER?

    I’LL TELL YOU IT WAS LESS THAN 7 MONTHS.

    • Serious Gord

      Very interesting point. One should search the transcripts to see if Lowe or MacT have used the “too soon to judge/fire Eakins” justification/Defence.

      One thing I wonder is: did kreuger rub MacT or Klowe the wrong way? Was his end of season report damning of oiler management – perhaps recommending the firing of some of the assistants? Was he being too independent-minded? Was he a threat to the power structure or rebellious within it?

      • reaperfunkss

        I think mact saw a shiny new toy that his contacts in the media talked a lot about. A rash decision by a rookie gm. Made worse by the fact he is a hypocrit. He says the Team needs stability as a head coach after firing the coach who only had half a season and no real training camp.

        How does he have any credibility when it comes to managerial decisions? Lowe hired his friend, there was no search for a replacement as a team doing it’s due dilligence would do. MacT hires a new head coach over a phone call. Doesn’t do any real thinking. Both instinct decisions that were wrong. There have been many instinct decisions gone wrong. proof is in the record

        This team has no plan. just guys going through the motions looking for insperation from somewhere.

        Not a good way to run anything

        • Johnnydapunk

          Absolutely agree. I wonder if there was any analysis done to see whether Eakin’s systems and ideas would be successful for the Oilers? Where was the due diligence and proper management? It seems like it was another decision made by “hockey minds” and ex-player management types that used to have a place in nhl management(pre – 1990s)but not anymore.
          Just because MacT is well spoken and educated doesn’t translate into managerial acumen.

      • camdog

        In the off season report from Krueger he requested an experienced assistant coach to help him behind the bench. When looking for this assistant coach Mact ran into Eakins. Eakins told Mact he wasn’t coming to the NHL to be an assistant. So Mact fired Krueger and hired Eakins.

        The question are why wasn’t Krueger involved in the process to hire a new coach? How can a GM get fleeced by a coach? How stubborn is Mactavish? When will admit the mistake and fire Eakins. It sure is easy to fix others mistakes but it’s dam hard to admit you were wrong.