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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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 

 

 


  • Randaman

    We’ll at least I think we have found a third line that can actually cycle the puck and create havoc while getting some chances as well. Perron, Hendricks, Gordon. Yay! If Eakins screws that up then he proves he is an idiot if it hasn’t already been proven. Gagner looks horrible with Hall and Nuge.

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

    Switching over to Ancient Aliens. At least that show is entertaining.

    Just when you thought the oilers couldn’t get any worse, they do.

    -30-

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

      Yeah….she was sitting poolside in LA and tweeted an injury report dated last Tuesday proving that Scrivens was injured before the trade occurred ….making the trade null and void!

      (she then put down her mobile device and went into the kitchen to find a rolling pin)

  • Bryzarro World

    Have the Wild feed on and they pretty much pity us.

    “And they make the Oilers go 200′ again. They seem to make them do it 3, 4, 5 times each PK. Oilers can’t score like that…”

    “I can’t believe how many chances we have on the PK.
    The Oilers are known to give up a few.
    More than a few… A lot!”

    Just some of their lines and you know what, THEY’RE ALL TRUE.

    What a joke…

  • outdoorzguy

    Everyone who would like Lowe to go really now needs to re-focus their energies on having this coaching staff removed ASAP!!

    We can deal with Lowe later since he doesn’t do anything anyways.

  • Bryzarro World

    Lets do random draws and let the winner be G.M of the team for a month! Betcha the oilers would win more than “15 WINS IN 50 GAMES” how pathetic Does that sound out loud? 15 wins in 50 games! Hahaha

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

      If the Buffalo Sabres win just half of the games that they have in hand over us, they will be ahead of us in the standings.

      All together now!

      Here We Go Sabres! Here We Go! Clap Clap!

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

          Correction – this hockey team does not deserve fans that sellout every game for the worst team in league

          Gotta be getting close to that elusive title of “worst team in the history of the game”

          • camdog

            Have to give credit to Lowe. He sold everybody from the fans to the ownership that losing was acceptable as a tool to gain assets. The very fact that it took 8 years of being the worst team in all of hockey before we became embarrassed is quite the testament to how good of a used car salesman Mr. Lowe is.

  • 1983 and This Year

    Gregor, I commented late on your last blog about the top prospects game. Curious on your take on Ekblad.

    I didn’t like some of his decision making and question his hockey sense a bit. I’m basing this solely on the WJC. Small sample I know and he is 2 years underaged in that tourney. Just curious if you saw things differently. Again, he may have just been with the wrong D partner in Pouliot, since both appeared to be offensively minded.

    If Ekblad/Reinhart/Draisaitl/Dal Colle/Bennett are considered equal as prospects, who do you take?

    I lean to Draisaitl right now. Big body down the middle to compete in the west. And we have no blue chip centre prospects.

    • Jason Gregor

      Ekblad was fine at WJC for me. He was 17 playing in the top pair. How many other 17 years old have done that over the years?

      I have no concern with his hockey sense. I don’t agree with that.

      I haven’t watched them all enough to make an accurate pick at this point. I have started watching more of their games and will have a write up later in the year.

      Historically the best forwards in the draft are taken early, while the best D-man is rarely the best in his class.

      Of course guys like Pronger, Doughty, Niedermayer and a few other special D-men buck that trend… Ekblad is a heck of a player as are the rest. I will watch more and then decide who I’d take first…

  • pkam

    Dubnyk is gone – enough. Its Scrivens whom is our man. Hope Jenny
    gets here while the weather is still warm :-).

    Hendricks- yeah he is overpaid but it is not coming out of our pockets
    [sort of] Horc was overpaid as well. Give it a rest. I think he is going
    to help that 4th line.

    Lets go Oilers ! 6 P.M. Game. Sweet.

  • emonkee

    I agree that Hendricks is not the answer that fans want, he doesn’t score 30G, get 60 pts, he is not a defenceman, and he never played goal in the NHL before. His contract is another 3.5 more years @1.85M, which is not ideal, probably too much considering you can get someone similar in the offseason.

    BUT…

    a) he is brought in not for those stats above. You complain about lack of size, whether it’s top 6 or bottom 6. He is it. He hits more than any of the current oilers.

    b) he can win a faceoff or two over his career, lighten gordon’s load.

    c) he is willing to fight, so it doesn’t have to be Gazdic all the time. From the sound of it, he is willing to drop the gloves for the kids.

    d) contract may be long and $$, but we can always “Belanger” him at the end of the year, trade him for a 7th rd pick or whatever.

    e) this guy hasn’t even play one single game, why the hatred?

    If you expect every guy brought in, i.e. 4th liner, who can chip in 25-30 pts, win faceoffs, play great defence, willing to fight, got size, and an affordable contract, AND a team is willing to give him up for Dubbie…wow, don’t know what world you are living in…

    I am not supporting Hendricks just yet, but at least watch him for a few games first…if he doesn’t pan out, then we can decide.

  • Slapshot

    Why is there a new arena being built ?

    Is Edmonton getting a hockey team ?

    If I was a season ticket holder, I would sue the organization for false promices.

    But Jason…that is 2 nice butts.

  • Serious Gord

    Buffalo is three points back with four games at hand and a much easier schedule from here to the end of the season than the oil has.

    Cgy seems to be able to just suck a little less than the oil does and remains three points ahead with two games at hand.

    Thirtieth is within the oils grasp.

    If I was to have posited at the beginning of the season that even with the team being relatively injury-free that they would finish dead last – and with the worst record in franchise history – would anyone reading this have said that despite that horrendous – record-setting outcome no one in management should be fired?

    As I am stating it now, does anyone think that anyone will be fired save for perhaps one or more of the assistant coaches?

      • Serious Gord

        From your keyboard to Katz’ eyes…

        And yet I think that doesn’t solve the much more deeply embedded problem:
        The incompetence of Kevin Lowe and the relationship between him and the owner that keeps him in place and unaccountable for the myriad transgressions he has committed against this team and thus against the fans.

        Let’s see what happens if the jets with their new coach waxes the oil on Saturday afternoon…

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

    #oilerspositives – another fantastic night for the skate laces they chose to use! Not a single skate lace broke tonight!!! Kudos

  • reaperfunkss

    8 years to make us this bad . Looking like MacT. and his dealings are becoming more of a problem than Tams ever was . Should maybe change team name to Edmonton Postal – as we continue to mail in the points .

  • Johnnydapunk

    Just watched the Oil vs the Wild( thats two hours of my life I’m not gonna get back) and saw Ben put out effort and was fighting to keep us in…then I look at Petry, Ference, J Schultz, and Marincin (he’s young so he gets a pass for now) completely leave him out to dry! MAC T….you once played with the OILERS jersey on your back and played with pride….we as fans love the OILERS jersey (besides one guy) and wear the jersey with pride….how can you just sit there and make these cheesie a$$ trades and figure that this is going to save this titanic from the bottom of the atlanic!? DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN DUMP SALARY AND PAY 4TH LINER AHLers 2 MILLION DOLLARS! If “its a tight market” or if you can’t seem to get something going…..take you and your sorry a$$ transition glasses, flow bee hair do eakins and “I’m the winningest guy in hockey right now” for a walk to tsn and ask to sit where maurice was sitting on the panel. This is getting too hard to stomach…..The defence and lack of anything being done is flat our retarded!!

  • Serious Gord

    BREAKING NEW!!

    Craig MacTavish declares that the Edmonton Oiler Hockey Club now has all lthe pieces in place to become a contender. “It all started with the brilliant signings of Boyd Gordon and Andrew Ferrence. Sure I overpaid for both of them but there was maybe one other team looking for their services, and you know how it is in Edmonton. If there is any other team interested in a player, they always seem to choose the other team.

    I also hired the real star in the coaching world, Dallas Eakins. He came very highly recommended by someone so I passed up all the existing candidates with actual NHL experience and went with the new hotshot. I really think things look good. Dallas knows exactly what he is doing. You can see the clock turning in his head during the game. It is really quite impressive.

    Now with the trades for Hendricks and Scrivens, the Edmonton Oilers can finally look to go over that bump in the road that has been 29th place for so, so long.”

    “One day” says MacTavish, “I envision myself sitting in the new arena actually watching this team compete for something other than a lotto. I mean, honestly, myself and Kevin Lowe feel like we’ve already won the lottery. Darryl loves us.”

    * to alleviate any confusion, I am just a fan, and this is a concocted, made-up speech by a very real person, Mr Craig MacTavish. This never happened.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    happy to see Dubnyk get a change. he needed it and probably isn’t sad either.

    whilst the oilers keep piddling around in bottom 6, with aims at high draft picks, other teams will build winning teams. unitl we touch the top 6 we stay bad.