The Lying Time

Eddie Lack

There’s a cute little phrase that nicely sums up the kind of reporting one hears during intense negotiations. It’s “conflicting reports.” There’s a good reason for that: Information is at a premium and the key people on opposite sides of the discussion have a tendency to put out wildly differing accounts of the status of talks.

It’s true of political discussions, labour negotiations and it’s really true at trade time in the NHL.

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Two Limbs and Your Firstborn for a Goalie


We’ve seen it this year with goalie discussions particularly. Some of the news makes it sound like there are an infinite number of goalies out there; other reports make it seem like there’s never been a better year to move goalies. How great is the situation, potentially?

In Ottawa, one of two teams (the other is Vancouver) with three waiver-eligible NHL goalies, we’ve heard a lot about what a great position the team is in. We’ve read, for example, about the seven different teams interested in acquiring their goalies, the way none of the three goaltenders are demanding a trade (thereby allowing the Senators to negotiate from a position of strength), and how the asking price is “a good, solid, young player in return and a pick in the top two rounds.” We’ve heard Bryan Murray say he’d like to unload a contract in the same deal, that his team has the best goalie to move and that he will have “no problem” going to camp with three goalies and letting the players sort it out if his asking price is not met.

We’ve heard a lot about Cam Talbot in New York, too. We’ve heard how Glen Sather has turned down an offer of two second-round picks in exchange for the goalie’s services. We’ve read about the “high return” necessary to land a player on such a “great contract”, about the multiple trade offers and the six teams chasing Talbot’s rights.

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It sure sounds like a great time to have a goalie to deal. If you’re interested in my goalie, the acquisition cost starts at an arm, a leg, a firstborn child and the deed to your house and well you’d better take it because I’m getting a call from the guy across the province and I just know he’s going to be able to top that offer. I think we’d better throw in this toxic contract with the goalie, too, just to make sure this deal gets done.

Your Goalie is Garbage and Maybe I Will Take Him Out of Pity

Peter Chiarelli3

On the other hand, we must not neglect the other reports, the ones which suggest that any team looking for a goalie is at an all-you-can-trade-for buffet, with dozens available for the low, low price of $9.99. That’s where we read that Eddie Lack, he of back-to-back 41-game seasons and a career 0.917 save percentage, is available for just a single second-round pick.

That’s the place where we hear things like what Peter Chiarelli said yesterday:

There are goalies out there. We’ve had discussions with teams. We’re in a group of my guess is two or three, maybe four teams that are looking for goalies. There are more goalies than those number of teams, so we’re in a bit of a buyers’ market. Having said that we’ve got multiple picks so I seem to be a popular potential trading partner on that front. Would we trade a second-round pick? Yeah, sure, I’d look into doing that possibly… There’s a couple of groups of goalies out there. I’m not averse to either of the types of groups. You’ve got some younger, smaller sample size guys, you’ve got some more proven guys. For me it’s about fitting in too how we improve our D and how we’re going to play defensively. At the end of the day it takes two to tango so you’ve got to get the right deal in place. I’m not averse to going to the free agent market either, whether it’s the trade market or the free agent market… It’s a real inexact science and you’ve really got to go to the character of the goalie and how the team’s going to play defensively. My guess is we’ll probably be able to do something before the draft but I’m not completely sure.

Oof, that’s tough. Want to trade Edmonton a goalie? Well, maybe, possibly, they might cough up a second-round pick. 

I’m just saying that it’s an inexact science, you know, and there are a lot of goalies out there and not that many jobs and free agency is just around the corner and I’m pretty sure we’ll have a deal in place before the draft anyway and gosh you people are annoying, calling me up and throwing your goalies in my face all the time.

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Who to Believe?

Antti Niemi2

There are a lot of different ways to assess conflicting reports. My preferred method is simply to look at the market, to look at the options available to either side. Back in March we looked at the goalie depth charts for all 30 NHL teams; it’s the best way to get a feel for the number of jobs available and the number of goalies available. Let’s update that look by going through the named teams supposedly interested in Talbot.

  • Buffalo: Yes, that makes sense. They don’t have a starting goalie.
  • Calgary: Sure, maybe they’re looking to upgrade on Jonas Hiller. Of course, that then means either trading Hiller or paying $4.5 million for him to be the backup.
  • Dallas: Yes, they could be looking to upgrade Kari Lehtonen. The trouble is that Lehtonen has three years left at $5.9 million; the Stars would almost certainly need to move him.
  • Edmonton: Yes, that makes sense. They don’t have a starting goalie.
  • Florida: I can’t imagine them being willing to pay much. Roberto Luongo just turned 36 and he’s under contract forever; it’s important to have a fallback plan in place because of his age but he just posted a 0.921 save percentage and paying a premium to backstop him this year seems silly given the club’s other issues.
  • San Jose: Yes, that makes sense. They don’t have a starting goalie.

If there’s a seventh team out there beating the bushes, my guess would be the Minnesota Wild; Devan Dubnyk still hasn’t signed and they may want to consider fallback options.

Ultimately, though, there are still only four starting jobs available, given that Calgary or Dallas adding a goalie would likely result in the availability of Hiller or Lehtonen and that Florida is probably looking about for a No. 1B to Luongo.

Two of those four starting jobs will almost certainly go to high-profile free agents Dubnyk and Antti Niemi. That leaves two starting gigs available; competing for those slots are Talbot, Lack and one of Ottawa’s three goalies, as well as all the maybes on the free agent market (Karri Ramo, Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth, possibly Thomas Greiss). Five names on that list are going to be stuck in backup roles, at least to start the season.

None of that means the reports quoted above are false. A team particularly enamoured of Talbot might have offered multiple second-round picks, and though it would probably be an overpay Sather may have turned it down thinking he could get more (particularly if the picks were, say, Calgary’s No. 52 and No. 53, which may not be preferable to Edmonton’s No. 33 alone). Ottawa probably did start by asking teams for a good young player and a second-round pick in exchange for Lehner.

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We’ll see what happens. When I look at the market, though, it looks to me like there’s lots of room for a savvy general manager to address his goaltending position relatively cheaply. No matter what people on either side of the discussion say, the fact is that there are four open starting slots available and nine possibilities to fill them. Bad managers will still make mistakes – the market was much the same when Steve Tambellini gave Nikolai Khabibulin a four-year deal – but competent ones know that math adds up to an excellent bargaining position for teams looking to add a goalie.


  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Apparantly Hockeybuzz reports Oilers are after M.Green (RD) and his rights . I prefer going after Neuvirth by UFA , and maintaining our second round pick to get another goalie in system such as Braidwood or Samsonov .

  • Jaxon

    1. Connor McDavid.
    If Rantanen, Zacha, Crouse & Meier are gone at #16, then:
    Trade #16 to BUF for #21 & 31.
    Trade #21 to ARI for #30 & #32.
    Trade #30 & #86 to NYR for Talbot.
    Pick at 31, 32, 33.
    31. One of Denis Guryanov , Evgeni Svechnikov, or Daniel Sprong.
    32. One of Nicolas Meloche, Rasmus Andersson, or Erik Cernak.
    33. One of the players in 31, 32 spots still available or Zack Senyshyn.
    57. One of the previously mentioned players if not taken yet, or Christian Fischer, Yakov Trenin, Thomas Schemitsch, Loik Leveille, Gabriel Gagner, Nicolas Roy, Keegan Kolesar.
    79. One of the still available goalies: MacKenzie Blackwood, Ilya Samsonov, Daniel Vladar, Callum Booth, Matej Tomek, Maxim Tretiak (yes, his grandson).
    86. Trade for Talbot (with 30).
    117. Any players previously mentioned, still not taken.
    124. Best Goalie Available.
    154. ‘Vladdy Hockey’ Tkachev.
    184. Best Goalie Available.

    • The_Angershark_Lives

      You are retarded. First of all good luck making 100 trades. Second of all wth would you draft 4 goalies in the same draft? Where are you going to develop 4 goalies for the 10 years they need before you know if they have the potential to start in the big leagues?
      Yeah we havent had a #1 goaltender for awhile but 4 draft picks in one year? Come on now.

    • vetinari

      Level with us.

      Were you an Oilers’ amateur scout up until a few days ago and is this your way to mess with Chiarelli?

      Or do you write an annual draft list for TSN?

      If not, that is way too much planning and detailed commentary after “Connor McDavid”.

    • The_Angershark_Lives

      The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a differen result.

      But it should be changed to that post in quotations.

    • Impossible to take this post seriously…kinda funny actually the snowball effect you have created here

      “Trade #16 to BUF for #21 & 31.” – why would Buffalo do this at all? With such a deep draft and Samsonov likely being available at 21, possibly 31…..

      • Kevwan

        I agree they’d have to give Buffalo more. At least #79 and probably more.

        Buffalo might be interested if they like Merkley , Svenchnikov or Konecny and they’re available at 16 but probably won’t be at #21. If the Oilers like Samsonov or someone else ranked a little lower, I can see them moving down from #16. But you’re right, the trade scenario has to make sense for both teams.

        • If none of the guys in the top 3 or 4 of my wish list are available at #16, i would certainly entertain moving 16 and 57 for 21 and 31. Whether or not that’s enough for Buffalo depends entirely on their own wish list.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Would Draisaitl, the 16th and the 57th get the Oilers that 4th or the 5th selection in this summers draft?

    Leon might be NHL ready as compared to Dylan Strome.

  • O.C.

    Screw the goalie!!! What are we gonna do so we don’t have to watch Jultz, Jultz it up 20+ minutes a night!!?

    How’s that Hamilton or Larssen trade coming along??

  • Tikkanese

    Will all of you people clammering for the Oilers to trade for Talbot/Lack still think it was a good idea when Talbot/Lack signs elsewhere next year and Jultz was forced into top pairing minutes again because they had no trade bait for a top pairing D?

  • WhoreableGuy

    I’d go after Ramo.

    He has shown he can win games while his team is being outshot, something that will for sure happen in Edmonton. He will be facing alot of shots until the defense is fixed.

    • CMG30

      Agreed, although if Talbot could be had for the right price he stands to be the solution for years to come. It’s worth seeing if he can be had for the 33rd.

      In any event, PC is playing it right. Wait them out. Every time a goalie is scooped up, the price drops for the rest.

  • bobinyvr

    I tried to give some thought to the value of the picks (and the draft) to the bidders.

    Consider if only picks were the currency (not prospects, players or bad contracts):

    And EDM (1) and BUF (2) not available.

    Then 1st round picks would be SJ (9), FL (11), DAL (12), CGY (15), EDM (16) and BUF (21).

    If SJ uses 9th, then they’ll have only 39(2) and no 3rd.

    If FL uses 11th, then no 2nd, but 77(3) and 88 (3).

    If DAL uses 12, then 49(2) and no 3rd.

    If CGY uses 15, then 45(2), 52(2), 53(2), 76(3).

    If BUF uses 21, then 31(2), 51(2), no 3rd.

    Consider, would SJ leave the draft with Talbot and one 2nd round prospect (no 3rd)?

    Consider, would FL leave the draft with Talbot to backup Luongo, no 2nd and a couple of 3rd round prospects?

    Consider, would DAL leave with Talbot, a 2nd round prospect (and no 3rd)?

    1st round picks seem an overpay for Talbot, Lack or Lehner.

    If you believe that 9th, 11, 12, 15, 16 and 21 are pretty spendy:

    Then I see BUF (31), EDM (33), CGY (45) and DAL (49) as the next best options for the sellers.

    I believe that EDM management should roll the dice with BUF not wanting to part with 31 and suggest that 33 is the best NYR, VAN, OTT can hope for (picks only).

  • Jaxon

    I think you can avoid all the overvalued goalies and all the agents playing teams off each other and GM’s extracting their fee out of Chiarelli by simply signing Thomas Greiss. His numbers are comparable or better than most on that list. He doesn’t cost any assets. He won’t cost very much cap space and can be signed for a decent term without any clauses. He would also provide Draisaitl with a German teammate. At the right price and term he will also be a very tradable asset down the road. That said, I do like the idea of Talbot, at the right price. 33rd & 86th? Add in a 4th in 2016 and a 3rd in 2017 if he re-signs? I don’t want to give up a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in 2016 so the option to offer sheet Hamilton is still open.

    • The_Angershark_Lives

      Our 2nd and 3rd in 2017 are effectively spoken for…Boston and SJ for our GM and coach. And if we have to give up a 3rd for MacLean – Ottawa- it will take care of that pick in 2016 as well. So, no offer sheets will be possible and 3 of our top 6 picks in 2016/17 will be smoke. This is just 1 more reason that i am averse to giving away any of our top 3 picks this year for a “might be our future number 1 goalie”.
      Just sign a UFA and worry about finding a Cup winner when we become a contender. Focus on defense for now.

    • ubermiguel

      When he got nominated for the Vezina. People that didn’t watch him every game for years might believe he’s a bona fide #1.

      Most ON posters understand he is neither as good as he showed last year, nor as bad as he showed his last year as an Oiler. I think “1B” goalie describes him.

      • pkam

        When is the last time a 1B goalie nominated for Vezina?

        When is the last time a 1B goalie scored a 0.936 SV% over 39 games?

        Even with a terrible year with the Oilers, Dubnyk has a career SV% of .914, Mike Smith’s career SV% is .912 and is Smith a 1B goalie? Wasn’t Smith selected for Team Canada in 2014 Winter Olympics? So a 1B goalie is good enough to represent Canada in Olympic?

        • ubermiguel

          Dubnyk’s career .914 SV% would put him 23rd-28th on this years list of SV% (playing 25+ games).

          So yeah, 30 teams, at least 22 better goalies, he’s on the bubble of being a #2 goalie. I stand by 1B.

          • pkam

            The fact is he was .916 before a pretty bad Coyote defense this year which Gold Olympic Medalist Mike Smith struggled to stay above .900, and he was .936 behind a very good, not the best NHL defense.

            The majority of his .914 SV% was behind one of the worst NHL defense. I wonder what his SV% will be if Dubnyk can play behind a good defense for a few years. I believe .920 is quite reasonable.

            Quick is .915 and Niemi is .916 and they were behind very good defense if not one of the best. I guess these two goalies are even worse than 1B, right?

          • O.C.

            *cough* Sample Size *cough*

            There have been a lot of teams who sniffed and said “no thanks”. Suddenly, he is the Messiah. Is he a sure thing or not? I sure as hell don’t know.

            If your job as a GM is too make that call, then it’s a short career if you guess wrong in a cap world.

            /edit…. #%?!?# iPad

          • pkam

            Dubnyk’s career SV% vs Quick’s career SV% vs Niemi’s career SV% is small sample size?

            Both Quick and Niemi played behind strong defense their whole career and post .915 and .916 SV% while Dubnyk played his whole career behind the worst defense except the last 39 games and post a 0.914 SV%. Now tell me who appears to be the better of the three?

            I never think Dubnyk is an elite goaltender, but I believe he is better than a 1B like ubermiguel thinks he is, or a NHL backup many here used to think he was.

          • O.C.

            And that is the argument. Is he than 1B? I don’t know. I know I would not double down 6 years and cross my fingers.

            (The sample size of NHL starts with a pro calibre D is the question. 1 amazing season has often been seen by many, with tragic inability to maintain that form. Let’s see two or three seasons, then back up the Brinks truck to his door if he maintains form)

          • pkam

            So 3 goalies post the same SV%, one plays behind a terrible defense while the other two play behind great defense. If the one plays behind the terrible defense is considered a 1B or backup at best, is it logical to assume the other 2 are worse than 1B or backup?

            Dubnyk post a .914% career SV%. If we exclude his games in the last 2 years (one bad and one great), his SV% is .916 behind a terrible defense. Do you think his SV% will be worse behind a solid defense?

            Quick’s career SV% is .915 behind a solid defense, and Niemi’s career SV% is .916 behind arguably the best defense then an above average defense.

            So either Dubnyk is a starting goalie, or Quick and Niemi is a 1B at best, right?

          • O.C.

            The argument holds but for DD not having the longevity of consistency. If we focus solely on save percentage, which clearly should be higher on a bigger goalie, we are eliminating intangibles.

            EG. How many crap goals that your grandmother should have saved did DD give up, at the most inappropriate and inopportune times while as the Oil starter? Those were causing everyone on the bench to sulk, and suddenly leading to the mindset that we can’t win with this guy cuz we can’t trust him.

            Why did team after team drop him? Hell, his save % says he should be a 1A.

            The answer is that we don’t stick “save percentage” between the pipes. We stick the gamer between the pipes that inspires the rest of the team to go harder, win battles, and win games. When your goalie is battling for you, you build and feed off that.

            It was only this past year, this 1 year, that DD looks like he might be that guy. I hope he is. I would not bet my GM career on that. (Yet.)