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 

 

 

  • 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.

  • BRHLBryce

    Plus Hendricks is an absolute ACE in the shootout. No mention of that?

    9 of 15 for his career prior to this season.

    Who says he has no skill?

    He will be fine in the bottom 6, replace Jones with a more protypical depth player.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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-

  • Randaman

    How sad that Sportsnet keeps showing Eberle’s lone goal as ” remax play of the game”. All good though we are only losing 4-1. God I am starting
    to hate anything to do Oilers including these loser commentators.

  • 1983 and This Year

    For a long time the Oilers had hard workers with no skill. Now the past few years we have had all skill and little to no hard workers.

    I think with the Ference, Gordon, and Hendricks acquisitions you’re seeing the hard workers creep back on to the team. The goal is to get a good mix of both.

    Don’t expect to see Hemsky and Gagner traded for high scoring players.

  • 1983 and This Year

    While it remains to be seen whether these trades make the team better, I don’t think it makes the team any worse.

    Either way Dubnyk was not going to be resigned, and considering he’s going to be a UFA we weren’t going to get much in return. I would have preferred to see a tough D-man in return but I’m sure MacT explored that option first.

    The Oilers desperately need physicality, toughness, and experience in their line-up. Hendricks brings all of those. He’s played on playoff teams and knows how to win. These intangibles should be good for the group. There’s no doubt he is overpaid, but it’s not by much and it won’t impact the teams financial flexibility.

  • 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.

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

    Breaking news!……in a bold move….Oilers fire teams skate sharpener guy!
    Have you EVER seen a team with so many guys falling down all the time…every game! WTF!