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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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. 


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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.

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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.




  • S cottV

    The team make up hasn’t worked for the last 4 years. Players need to be moved out, which in some cases is unfortunate. 2 years away from competing for a playoff spot….at least that is what I have been saying for the last few years.

    Get rid of them all slowly, keep your top picks and get something for Gagner or Eberle if a really good offer comes up.

  • Bryzarro World

    So much is so for game day prediction!!!! Instead bold move will be Coilers to apply to Garry , to use two Golies at once on a game or relegation to the AHL. This will solve everything may be, may be!!!

  • BRHLBryce

    Here’s hoping for a Bryzgalov-esque Oilers debut for Scrivens. I’m pulling for the guy.

    I think we need to get Perron going again. I get that he is a solid two-way player and fits in well with other checkers but if he plays on a line with Gordon and Hendricks, we are wasting his talent. Maybe put Smyth on their wing as a pure defensive line, move Arco to fourth line centre and Gagner back to the middle.

    • Arius Mumin

      Smyth Hendricks Gazdic would be a solid 4th line.

      Jones Gordon Gagner on the 3rd. Why not?.

      Perron RNH Yakupov and Hall Arco Eberle as the top two lines. Hall’s line has expirience together and Eberle’s play would elevate playing with his favorite hcokey player. I am also convinced that RNH and Yakupov need to play together, if given time-I can see them developing into a solid duo.

      • Newj

        I would like see RNH centering Yak. There were a couple of games this fall when Yak was given a small opportunity to play on RNH line, but if I remember correctly it was about the time where he was being benched or not given much TOI.

        Whole other debate about Yak’s TOI but I too think Yak might do very well with RNH feeding him some passes. I think Yak has a great ability to find those open seams & of course RNH has the ability to see teammates in those little spots on the ice. I would like to see it for a few games as a trial run.

  • S cottV

    really! has come to reading stupidity about the fans are reason for the Oiler woes. there will always be a “darwin award” worthy segment of the population who will say and do bad things, but the fans here in Edmonton should be applauded for their unwavering love for a team that doesn’t love them back. most certainly doesn’t have any idea how to show it.

    these comments maybe some of the stupidest i’ve ever read here and i’m not overly discerning.

    the OILERS ORAGNIZATION is the reason for the woes. the plight is their own, the sword they need to fall on.

    winners want to win and unless drafted here, they aren’t coming to lose.

    bad fans you say, GREAT FANS I SAY!

  • outdoorzguy

    I hope Scrivens plays well, but not well enough for a win. I’m still hoping the next loss for the coaching staff will be their last loss as Oiler coaches!!

    • outdoorzguy

      It’s weird how you kinda want to see oil loose 7-0, just like slowing down to gawk at a bad car accident, but inside you get excited if they blow out the other guys

      GDP… Oil 6, wild 0, Hendricks with 2 points and a fight, Gadzic with a goal and a fight.

    • Slapshot

      Just when you think comments can’t possibly get more “douchy”.

      Read a WWII history, watch a documentary on The Holocaust, get some kind of #@%ing idea about the single most important event in the formation of today’s world before you use this kind of description of what is just a hockey team and one of its staff.

      Sometimes I despair.

  • Alsker

    Since no QSB again, allow me to remind everyone this was another step closer to Ekblad or whomever we choose with the #1 this year. Even with fLames getting their asses kicked tonite we still are able to maintain our lead for epic fail of the year.

  • bazmagoo

    The way it’s going the Oilers are going to get Ekblad, because they could finish last in the league again!

    Wonder how nuts the Fire Lowe crowd would go if that happened, might have a riot on our hands.

  • Truth


    Don’t mind having a player like Hendricks on the team. He is overpaid for his skill set. You say that doesn’t matter, I disagree.

    I think if they let Dubnyk walk they could have signed a replacement for Hendricks for about $800,000 easy. Here’s a list of similar type players becoming UFA’s this off-season currently getting paid in that range: Carcillo, Thorburn, Bernier, Barch, Regin, Bissonnette, Brown, Westgarth.

    In doing that the Oilers would have spared themselves over $1,000,000 they could have thrown at any one of the following UFA’s IN ADDITION to what they would have originally offered them: Ryan Miller, Andrei Markov, David Legwand, Jonas Hiller, Ryan Callahan, Derek Roy, Matt Stajan, Jaroslav Halak,
    Dave Bolland, Radim Vrbata, Steve Ott, etc.

    I would much rather overpay any one of those players than to overpay a 32 yr old 4th liner. Of course many of those players will be signed by their current team, but some will make it to market.

    • Oil me up Charlie!

      Bissonnette isnt cut out to play a majority of an NHL season, we have that in a better player with Gazdik.
      Brown, we already traded him due to his inconsistnacy.
      Andrei Markov is 35 and a bandaid like hemsky.
      Good luck in attracting Bolland.

      so you would rather overpay a 35yr old russian band aid, than consistent grit for our 4th line finally?

      • Truth

        No, I would rather overpay a player that will play in the NHL for over 11 minutes per game AND sign a player to play on the 4th line. They’re overpaying the wrong guy. Like I said, nothing wrong with acquiring a 4th line grinder, but what makes Hendricks better than the rest of them? He’s got 4 points and is minus 7 on Nashville right now. I agree with your assessment of Brown and Bissonnette, and I also think Poile would throw Hendricks into that same category.

        Tyler Dellow has a great piece up on Sportsnet. Odds are that Hendricks is on the decline and spends at least his final year of the contract not playing in the NHL.

    • BRHLBryce

      Of the guys you listed, the only one remotely close to bringing to the table what Hendricks does is Regin, who has no physical element to his game at all.

      In short, he’s a better overall player than you give him credit for. As a 4th line player, who has multiple “layers” to his game, I am fine with getting him for what we did. Is he overpriced? Not by much in the market today.

        • BRHLBryce

          Above average skating, good defensive instincts, faceoff ability, and penalty shot ability. which is 2 or 3 more tools than guys we’ve seen in the bottom 6 the past few years.

          • BRHLBryce

            I never said he was the cure all. I’m just saying for as bad a season as Dubnyk is having, and his value, to get a useful piece is alright.

            Do I like the contract? Its a bit high. Do I like the term, of course not. Still when we have to overpay depth guys to come here anyways now either in term or dollars (Gordon, Belanger etc), picking one up via trade, who has multiple tools, isn’t the worst thing in the world.

    • reaperfunkss

      What you fail to realize is that UFA’s arent attracted to Edmonton. Especially not with our losing culture. Hendricks was a player we originally sought out this past summer and he chose to go to Nashville. Those players you listed, and then some, would not sign here. So you make the trades you can to better your team for now. $1M overpayment may be significant when Yakupov and Perron reach their larger contracts, but Perron is locked up for a few more years, and Yakupov would be lucky to resign for what he makes now, so we arent in trouble. We also saved a lot of money off of Dubnyks horrific contract as Scrivens is paid peanuts compared. So consider it a lateral move, money-wise.

      The Oilers are fine when it comes to salary cap. In every other facet, we are in trouble right now….

      Im not excited by the trade, but im not upset either. Is the team better today? Probably not. Are we worse? Probably not.

      But im sure excited to see some movement. Its healthy for an organization with such a losing mentality to inject new blood.

  • I watched the game with the Oilers glasses on. The two players that stood out for me was Ho-Sang and Eakblad.

    Eakblad because he looks like a man child with ice in his veins. Ho-Sang because I never knew he existed and he was always making something happen at high speed.

    We should be doing everything to secure Eakblad…….make a deal now with Buffalo if required. Although it’s hard to predict how defenceman turn out, this one looks like the next coming of Chris Pronger.


    I think those two trades are fine. Getting rid of Gagner, Hemsky and N. Schultz for picks and prospects will be fine also. Sending Labarbera away for a bag of pucks was ok too. But none of those moves address our 3 main problems:

    1. We need a top pairing D-man. Remember Indiana Jones 3? Remember how obsessed Sean Connery’s character was with finding the holy grail? That’s how Oil fans have been with that top D-man since Pronger left town. Unfortunately, I think we will have to wait for the drafting/development of Ekblad;

    2. That big 2nd line center. Draisaitl or Reinhart aren’t the solution. We don’t need another kid learning on the job in the top 6 forwards. They will have to trade for this one. That’s exactly the “bold move” MacT must make;

    3. Our coaching staff is inadequate. Do we simply need to replace one of Smith or Bucky for an assistant with NHL experience (like Guy Boucher for example)? Or do we need to clean house? I’ll leave that to MacT.


    For anyone familiar with advanced stats: are there any advanced thats that rate:

    1) size and grit
    2) veteran leadership

    If there is, I’d be curious to see where Hendricks fits in terms of those stats. Add to it that he’s pretty solid in face-offs, it seems like a decent pick-up.

    And if people are whining now about his salary, I can only imagine what they would say had Hendricks come as a free-agent signing.

  • Slapshot

    I like the moves being made. Slowly and surely Mac T is building that grinder team around the talent he never had during his time as coach.

    He is also at least attempting to solve the goal tending situation and that’s a positive.

    Still the Oilers really won’t be competitive until they solve their defensive issues, and balance out the player types in the top six. I am much more comfortable with the idea of trading any or all of Gagner, Yak, and Ebs to get what’s needed up front and on the blue.

    Moreover, I would move hell and earth to sign Moulson and Callahan as free agents this summer. Then look at trading anyone of Gags, Ebs, Yak and one of our Blue chip defensive prospects to get this team into shape for next year. If you got Callahan and Moulson signed, then the returning pieces for one of the wonder kids might just be enough.

    That starts to look more like a very solid team from top to bottom.

  • reaperfunkss

    I agree Eakins has got to go! A friend of mine has a son that plays in The NHL and he said that he couldn’t believe that Edmonton hired Eakins!! Worst coach ever!!!!! I guess he had some dealings with him along the way and said he is an ASS! Gtg

  • Chainsawz

    I have to agree to disagree, JG, stats is just that, a statistic of sorts, it only paint part of the whole picture, winning and losing comprise of a few different elements; e.g. second game of a double header, game after a winning streak (3 games or more), time zone difference, etc. etc. Whereas, when a goalie repeatedly give up soft goals, the whole team approach a game differently (tentatively, I should say), and because Dubnyk’s backups are just as bad doesn’t mean much, it only means that the team’s all that more frustrated is all! Not to say Scrivens is the answer, either! I still think they should pry one of Bernier or Reimer from the Leafs, one of them will feel the need to play more games!


    Someone commented on here that Hall hates Yak, is there any truth to this, if so could explain some things and although i hate to say it would not look good on Halls part specificaley if true.