As the Oilers prepare to take on the red-hot Minnesota Wild, Craig MacTavish announced the Oilers have re-signed two players — however, neither was Jeff Petry.
Rob Klinkhammer singed a one-year deal worth $725,000, while Ryan Hamilton signed a one-year, two-way deal. Klinkhammer is a solid fourth line winger who is responsible defensively and physical. He’s fit in well with Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks and they will be a line next season.
The Klinkhammer signing does illustrate who and what type of player MacTavish values.
MacTavish is a big believer in having a veteran bottom-six forward line that is responsible, physical and reliable. He has that now with the HGK line. Having that type of line is important for a team’s success, but centres and D-men are more important and MacTavish’s recent moves with those positions needs to improve.
Since he was hired in April of 2013, his actions suggest he wasn’t sold on what type of player Jeff Petry could become. He didn’t sign him to a contract extension during the 2013/2014 season, and then last summer only signed him for one year. Now he is 10 days away from having to trade him away for a draft pick, or more likely a young prospect.
MacTavish’s actions and words have shown he was more of a believer in Justin Schultz’s potential than Petry’s. He signed Schultz to a one-year deal worth $600,000 more than Petry’s one-year pact. MacTavish then stated that Schultz has “Norris Trophy potential.”
After signing Petry last summer he said,“It’s a bit of risky deal for us because we’re exposed on the asset,” referring to the situation they are in now. “We very much
view Jeff as a high-end asset for us, but at the same time we have to
see what the level is.”
MacTavish wanted to see what Petry’s level was, but declared Schultz Norris Trophy potential. It was clear he viewed Schultz as having more upside. MacTavish did say he would have liked a longer term deal with Petry, but my source says the money they were offering Petry was not enough to entice him to sign a longer extension.
It is interesting to note that MacTavish wasn’t willing to overpay Petry on future potential, but a year earlier he signed Sam Gagner to a three-year deal worth $4.8 million. He also elected to overpay Nikita Nikitin on a two-year deal instead of over paying Petry, who had been in the organization since 2006.
Petry is not a top-pairing defender, but he is a solid second pairing guy, and MacTavish elected to overpaying Nikitin on a short-term deal instead of overpay Petry. That decision does not look good right now.
It will set the organization back, because now they will go into the summer hoping to land a D-man who can play top-four minutes, and if they do they likely will have to pay him similar money than it would have cost to sign Petry last summer.
Every fan, media person, player, coach and manager will have bias in how they evaluate players. We will differ on many players, but when a GM acts on his thoughts, and it is the wrong decision, it can negatively impact an organization.
MacTavish had a similar feeling with Devan Dubnyk after the 2013 season. Dubnyk had finished the year with a .920 sv%, and while he had allowed a few weak goals at key times in the season, he had been fairly consistent. MacTavish wasn’t sold, however, and his quote, “If you have to ask the question, then you know the answer,” when responding to whether or not Dubnyk was a bonafide #1 goalie.
That quote rattled Dubnyk. He admitted on my show after he was traded to Nashville that he felt the organization didn’t believe in him. He also admitted he needed to play better. Dubnyk started the 2013/2014 very poorly. He didn’t have any confidence and it showed in his play. He finished the year in the AHL.
Now, six months later, he is leading the Wild on a run for the playoffs. He is 11-2-1with a stellar .936sv% and a 1.73 GAA. It will be difficult to maintain that high of sv%, but it is clear that Dubnyk can be a consistent .915-.920sv% goalie.
In Edmonton, he had a .916 in 2011, .914 in 2012, .920 in 2013 and .894 in 2014. He wasn’t very good last year, but this year he was .916 in Arizona and now .936 with Minnesota. It would seem that last season was the outlier, because in his other four seasons he has been .914 or better.
Keep in mind he had those sv% numbers on a 30th, 29th and 24th place team in Edmonton. The Oilers are 29th this season and Scrivens and Fasth have an .896 and .888sv% respectively. MacTavish wasn’t sold on Dubnyk, which is okay, but when the players you bring in are worse, then the decision looks even worse.
Today, MacTavish spoke to the media. You can watch the scrum here. Some highlights of the scrum.
- “We really challenged Jeff on a one-year contract and he’s clearly met that challenge. His game is at a level it hasn’t been at before. As for a contract, I’ve had many conversations over the last four weeks and they’ve all been constructive, but I’m going to leave it at that.”
He admitted the team wanted to see more, and Petry showed them, but the risk is that Petry wants to test UFA and I’m sure he feels a bit slighted that he had to prove things before getting big money before others have.
- He said he doesn’t plan on trading Derek Roy and hopes to re-sign him. He said a contract extension, if it happens, will occur at the end of the year. We have to hope that he learned that starting the season with only two experienced NHL centres is a recipe for losing.
- “There’s every expectation on my part we’ll have 80 per cent of the players back,” he said in regards to his team for next season. Most would believe he will try to upgrade his goaltending and this blueline, but he will have to improve his top-six forwards. He needs some skilled size in that group.
Anton Lander is on the IR with a shoulder injury, and it sounded like he won’t be back right away. The Oilers still don’t have much centre depth, so Benoit Pouliot will play centre on the 3rd line.
Petry won’t play tonight and Keith Aulie draws back in. The Oilers did recall Jordan Oesterle from OKC and he might play tomorrow vs. Anaheim.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
From Gone Puck Wild…
For the Oilers, there honestly hasn’t been a real bright spot this season. Edmonton ranks among the bottom five teams in the league in goals per game, goals against, penalty kill and powerplay. Their 17-32-10 record may be second worst in the league, but it’s also good for second best in the “McEichel” draft standings.
There are plenty of rumors surrounding Edmonton as the trade deadline approaches. Defenseman Jeff Petry (injured Wednesday), Jordan Eberle, and former #1 overall pick Nail Yakupov have all had their names mentioned as we approach March 2nd. At this point, it seems like no one is untouchable for the Oilers.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Wild are rolling. Dubnyk is 4-0 vs. the Oilers this year, three with Arizona and one with Minnesota, and he improves to 5-0 tonight with a 3-1 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ryan Suter plays 29 minutes. The guy is a freak. He has played over 30 minutes 16 times this season.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: In his 600th NHL game, Kyle Brodziak scores his 97th NHL goal and adds an assist. The former 7th round draft pick and had a very solid career, and his two-point game will be his 5th of the season. He has six games with one point.