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 

 

 



  • Everyone is complaining about the contract length and amount. Were you aware Mact offered him more to sign with us prior to the season?

    A bigger, gritty utility player that is good in the dot and willing to stand up for teammates may be a step in the right direction for a small soft team that has trouble winning faceoffs.

    • Jason Gregor

      Oilers didn’t offer him four years though…was a three year deal worth a bit more…

      That being said too much onus is put on 4th liners in Edmonton…

      The Oilers change coaches and 4th liners like no other team, and it doesn’t change anything…

      Hendricks, or any other 4th liner will make a small impact at best…

      Until Oilers improve their top-7 forwards and top-4 D-men the ever-changing 4th liners, new coaches or goalie carousel won’t change anything.

      • BLAKPOO

        I agree totally with your coach/4th liner comment. Weird!!! Is it a classic case of a “safe move” (least effect on team) to show your at least trying to shake things up?

  • 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!

  • Chainsawz

    We traded a nothing goalie for a 4th line plug. The amount of discussion this is generating is surprising to me.

    The cap hit doesn’t bother me. In 2 years the cap is probably going to be somewhere around $10,000,000,000 and he won’t even be making the league minimum.

    Thanks Rogers.

  • 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.

  • If you look at macts body of work he is slowly changing the mix of this team,scrivens is ahead of dubnyk by a lot,he got rid of horricable,brought in perron(best oiler besides from hall)picked up ferrencebrought in hendricks,so while nothing is bold he is doing a good job,will reserve any negativity till I see what he does this sommer and trade deadline

  • BLAKPOO

    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.

  • 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!

  • Johnnydapunk

    I guess I’m in the camp of let’s see what happens, I am curious though as everyone seems to be ripping Hendricks because he chose Nashville over the Oil and that he is not worth 2 million. His interview sounded like he was looking forwards to playing for the Oil and in hindsight that he may have made a mistake in picking Nashville over the Oil, he seems to feel that he has something to prove which is always a good sign.

    I do wonder though what it would take for him to shake off this tag he has already about being a waste? What would he need to do to justify his price tag and that he was worth trading for? I can’ t really figure out what everyone wants.

    I think he could be a decent asset to the Oil who lack size and grit and the ability to win face offs, I watched a few YouTube videos of him which of course don’t show a lot, though his “paralyser” move in shootouts is pretty impressive so if he can be a guy who gets the puck on the breakaway, he could put a few in.

    As for Scrivens, let’s see what happens, it seems everyone knows the issue here is the Oil’s porous defence so again, what would it take for him to be considered a decent choice?

    I would have been shocked if he was head over heels excited to come here as he is leaving a team with a pretty decent shot at winning the cup and the Oil are almost booking their tee times. He is playing for a contract somewhere and teams look at stats and he is going to have to play like a Demi god to come out of the season looking half decent. I have only known of one player in recent years who have requested a trade to the Oil and that was Smyth so whether we like it or not, the Oil aren’t a great destination for a player for the time being, maybe that will change in a few years, I hope so.

    I’m only asking this stuff as a lot of people are ragging about both of them and this can’t make it any easier to attract players if the second they are part of the Oil, they are already considered wastes before they even play a game.

    I hope they both do alright and as we have Hendricks for a few years, I especially hope that he can prove that he is a bargain at 2 million and not a waste.

    As for Dubnyk leaving, I’m looking forwards to seeing how he plays in a different system, maybe without the pressure here he might do alright and as he seems like a nice enough guy, I hope for the best for him.

    • reaperfunkss

      I dont think the players coming in are too worried that the fans are in a bad mood. They know the standings. The Oil have been crap for the better part of a Decade. players know and thats why they dont want to be here.

      Dont listen to the laForge school of spin and blame the fans. This disaster is 100% on oiler management.

      They need to be gone so they can stop making dumb trades and signings.

      I have no idea about hendricks but who cares because he is a 4th liner not a difference maker.

      Scrivens…Dude i am so sorry you had to come home to this garbage. Good luck but even Georges Vezina himself would have bad numbers behind this defense

      • Johnnydapunk

        This is it, I’m asking what it would take Hendricks and Scrivens to do so people can say, “yeah that was a great trade and I’m glad we got these guys!”

        What kindof numbers do these players have to put up for people to be satisfied ?

        As everything about this season is a write off, all I am hoping for is that the new players settle in alright and the end of the season they say that this was a great move for them, and maybe attract other free agent players to come here and try to bring the glory back that has been long gone.

        • reaperfunkss

          This team will continue to lose. Management is bad. A change is needed in the whole culture for there to be any progess. If a fool is making your decisions then the results will always be less than desirable.

          Bringing in 4th liner forwards and unproven back up goalies is not going to get this on track.

          There is no way we will say this is a great trade because it was far from great anything.

          Once again if your leaders can’t do their job then all those under the umbrella are handicapped. When the leaders cant make good decisions it is time for new leadership.

          • Johnnydapunk

            Thing is, that is nothing new, and there is little that any of us can do about it, we can complain and boo and vow to never go to a building with the word “Rexall” in it but until the people who make the decisions make those decisions, all we can do is talk about what we got.

            I am not trying to pick fights here so I hope it’s not interpreted that way, but you have yet to answer the question I had. What would it take for these two players to make people think it was a decent trade. It can be anything, surely it has to be something. Unless you are telling me that if Hendricks goes on a 30 game scoring streak and Scrivens posts 15 shutouts in a row would not make people think the trade was decent.

            It sucks being an Oil fan right now, it has sucked for a while actually, but there isn’t any point in being upset about yesterday’s as you can do f*ck all about them! but there is tomorrow’s and I guess next season.

            I don’t see a point in being annoyed as nothing will really change anytime soon.

          • reaperfunkss

            Not trying to pick a fight here either at all. Most of us are true fans and i have respect for those bros.

            A decent trade would address need. this team needs defence. they traded a goalie for a goalie which will most likely look like a push and they got a 4th line center. We are 2nd last in the leage and a 4th line center will do nothing to change that.

            As far as being no point in being upset I find that a tad naive. Upset is what it is gonna take for an absentee owner to realize he has a sh(t show for an NHL team.

            How will being positive change anything?

            I am allowed to be pissed because my city government is forking over about 350 million dollars to a guy who could have paid for this arena on his own.

            I am pissed because the Owner used dirty tactics to speed up the Arena deal when if he had used an honest open approach he could have gotten the same results and also the respect of this city’s people, well a little respect anyway.

            i am pissed because kevin Lowe has taken the sports team that i love more than any other on this planet and through incompetence and nepotism has made this team worse.

            Sorry for the rant but to all those true oiler bros out there, no matter your views of this team we all deserve better.

            To the trolls and people the Oilers send on here and we know they are here, I wish you a happy life

        • reaperfunkss

          This team will continue to lose. Management is bad. A change is needed in the whole culture for there to be any progess. If a fool is making your decisions then the results will always be less than desirable.

          Bringing in 4th liner forwards and unproven back up goalies is not going to get this on track.

          There is no way we will say this is a great trade because it was far from great anything.

          Once again if your leaders can’t do their job then all those under the umbrella are handicapped. When the leaders cant make good decisions it is time for new leadership.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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.

  • BLAKPOO

    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.

  • BLAKPOO

    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.