January 16, 2014

steve laidlaw

2014-01-16

I was going to joke about how I avoided watching the Leafs-Sabres game last night because I am not a masochist but then I remembered that I cheer for the Edmonton Oilers, which is basically masochism defined. So nuts to that joke, I guess.

 

Those Oilers did swing a couple of moves yesterday. For those of you who missed it, the Oilers dealt embattled starter Devan Dubnyk to Nashville for Matt Hendricks and then acquired Ben Scrivens from Los Angeles for a third round pick. You can read Dobber's take on the matter and it's a good one. I look at what this says about Pekka Rinne's status, which is to say, it doesn't look good.

 

The last I heard about Rinne was there was no timetable for his return. I warned back in October when he went back under the knife that this could be an ongoing issue. Well, here we are, the Predators have made a move for a starter, which tells me they don't have much confidence in Rinne returning healthy this season.

 

If you follow the playoff odds the Predators are basically out of the race even if they are only eight points back. That means there should be no rush in getting Rinne back this season. Instead they can send Marek Mazanec back to the AHL where he can compete at a level more suiting his abilities right now.

 

I like this landing spot for Dubnyk though. The Predators have long had success with lanky goaltenders and frankly goaltenders of all shapes and sizes. Their goalie coach Mitch Korn is one of the best in the business. The question is whether or not they'll have enough time with Dubnyk to really help him improve this season. Ideally, he'd spend more than a year there and really develop but that doesn't really seem like an option.

 

Still, with a nice break for the Olympics that could be enough practice time to really instill some things in Dubnyk's game. If Rinne really is out for the rest of the season then this could be Dubnyk's chance for another big contract.

 

For Edmonton, this is their chance to vet Scrivens as a starter and also sell him on the organization. If he does well they'll have had nearly six months to work on an extension with Scrivens before he hits free agency. Given he is an Alberta boy perhaps the homecoming will be too much to pass up.

 

The price – a third round pick – isn't much to take a chance on Scrivens. If you disregard scouting and player development (two areas the Oilers struggle anyhow) a third rounder doesn't have better than a 1/3 chance of becoming a regular NHL player, let alone an actually good one. So giving up lottery ticket for a run at the goalie who might be your starter isn't all that big a price to pay. Also, the team gets Hendricks who one could argue is worth the pick on his own even if he is nothing more than a depth forward.

 

There is an opportunity cost to this deal giving up that pick. I'm also not sold that Scrivens is the goalie of the future especially not in the hands of the Oilers' coaches who thus far have a very spotty record with developing goaltending. All the progress he'd made in LA this season could be undone. Goaltenders in Edmonton get abused with shots, which is the exact opposite of what he was facing with the Kings. I'm not sure he is ready for that transition.

 

 

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While we are on the Oilers, I loved this candid interview with GM Craig MacTavish:


It's coordinated defence and coordinated offence. Like when you're a junior player, and Yak would be an excellent example of this, you can survive on physical skill. Like he's faster than everybody. He takes a line and he can blow by people, but when you get to the N