As an Oiler fan coming into the week before the Trade Deadline, I figured it was going to be fun. We had nine Unrestricted Free Agents and a few gaping holes in our roster. Plus, even though a clear “Seller”, I was hoping for a few decent prospects. Draft picks are okay, if your into that kind of stuff. But for me, after the first and sometimes second rounds, I really don’t care. Honestly, why should I care about a 14% chance in the third round or even less as you go on. That is truly not exciting for me. What’s exciting is watching a decent team play good hockey. Haven’t been getting that either. But off topic.
Going into this trade deadline, I was sure MacT was going to be busy. Getting rid of guys who won’t be here next year for hopefully a decent prospect or two. Didn’t happen. We started it all off with some pretty big news. Locking up Ben Scrivens for a couple more years. That was huge. We all knew it was going to happen, but for a decent number, it was exciting. Remember when Dubnyk got $3.5M? Ya, me neither. Then came Bryzgalov to Minny. Another decent move since he wasn’t going to stay in Edmonton past this year. Honestly, do you think he would stay in a place -32 (hopefully you get the pun). Then we traded and got ANOTHER good goalie with decent numbers, in Viktor Fasth. Not going to lie, I jumped up in the seat of my work van. Then I almost crashed, swerved a little, blah blah blah. But I was extremely excited.
Not only did we actually pick up a good player, but we had a whole other day of trades to come. So exciting. Then came the day we all wait for, even though usually disappointed. But with false hope since this could have been a big day in Edmonton to help us next year. The longest serving Oiler and last member on the team to take part in our “Magical” cup run was traded. Nobody was surprised. It was time for him to move on, into an environment he could ignite the flame again. Good for him and I wish him all the best. But then I noticed the return. A third and fifth pick. At first I was indifferent, but as the day went on I saw it was not back compared to what others got. So good job MacT. Point for you.
Then time went by and nothing happened. Finally Nick Schultz was traded. As first nobody knew for what. But did it really matter? Honestly, the guy was a disaster since coming here. just goes to show you that certain players excel in certain systems. I don’t even care that it was for a fifth round pick. I thought a sixth or seventh was about right for him, so I’ll say good job MacT again. A player like Fedun or Klefbom deserves a shot to strut their stuff before the OLD Schultz. So good.
Then I waited and waited and waited……………..
And nothing else happened…………..
This really shocked me since we do have a number of UFA’s left on the roster. Guys like Jones, Smyth, Fraser, Belov and a few minor league guys. Just goes to show how much a players value drops when a team sucks year in and year out. But that’s a conversation for another day. I just cannot believe that nothing else happened. Blah Blah Blah, they are probably waiting for the draft. But what good does that do me now? My team is utterly the same. I know people are saying we are worse because Hemsky is gone, but really, don’t the Oilers kick up their game ever so slightly when that happens? Which was a lot. So no change there. And again, Nick Schultz was a disaster. So if anything, taking a look at a prospect is an ever so slightly improvement. So no different. Another deadline we went sideways. Even though we keep coming in the bottom five. So disappointing.
But then I started to think about it. I truly believe this team actually improved a fair amount. But not because of today. But because of Deadline eve. The acquisition of Fasth is lights out. We brought in a goalie with good enough stats to be a starter on a few teams. He’s no Jonny Quick, but he is damn good. Even if your knock on him is his lack of NHL experience. Look at his stats overseas. Those numbers are even better. He’s not young, but has enough years in him he can make an impact for at least five or six seasons. Plus he’s a player I have personally liked for a few years now. So not damn back MacTavish. This year his numbers have dipped a little to 2.95GAA and .885 SP from lasts years 2.18 and .921. But he is still an incredible goalie. It helps his case he has a very friendly cap hit of only $2.9M.
He can come to Edmonton and play his game. Try and prove he is a number one goalie in the best league in the world. He can compete with Scrivens for starts and push himself to new levels. Which is pretty awesome, since he is pretty good to begin with. If you look at his numbers, this is the first year that he has had a save percentage under .900. Plus as people know with Dubnyk, numbers aren’t the whole story. He is a keeper that can make a big save when needed and keep his team in the game. A definite upgrade over Bryzgalov in itself. And a HUGE upgrade over LaBarbera if you go back just to the beginning of this year.
Now you add in the local product to the mix. Ben Scrivens is another keeper who has had to fight and claw his way. He has had to prove at EVERY level he was good enough and exceed expectations. A story right along the same lines as the last good goalie we had here in Edmonton, Dwayne Roloson. Who ironically was Fasth goalie coach in Anaheim. The circle of life right. But back to the story. Scrivens was criticized that his numbers in Toronto, but even more so LA, were because he had good defenders in front of him. That theory is shot to hell since his numbers have increased since coming here. The Swiss Cheese defence of the NHL. He’s another guy that wants to show he’s a starter in the NHL. But as opposed to Fasth, he could take it to another level. Scriven’s is only 27 years old. Which for goalies is the 22-23 that other players come into the NHL. He has improved exponentially each and every year. So, for now, the sky is the limit.
Now tell me. What would push a competitive athlete striving to be the best. A immense competition with a teammate striving for the exact same job as you. Or to have the job given to you and you have to prove you deserve it? Exactly. It’s might be okay for someone established like a Quick or Lundquist. But it’s better for development to battle. Maybe why the rest of the Oilers are struggling right now, but another topic for another time. A battle with a teammate is always a good thing. I don’t care how many guys say “It’s fun” because it’s not. You have to fight for your job every game. So this could take Scrivens, or maybe even Fasth to another level of play. It helps they’ll be getting 50 shots a game.
But back to my original point. Craig MacTavish shored up a position that was questionable at best only six short months ago. So in half a year, we went from having bottom ten at best goaltending(the most important single player in a team sport) to having arguably a top 10. Not to say they are in the same league as the “Elites”. More that the tandem will compete night in, night out. That’s an advantage any team would love to have. So while the rest of the team moved sideways at the end of the deadline.
“We still need size up front”
“Our defense is horrendous and needs NHL caliber players”
We shored up arguably the most important position in hockey. So that’s definitely a step in the right direction. With good goaltending, anything is possible. Look at Toronto. I am going to have to say our GM did a pretty decent job. And has been doing a decent job in only one short year. We went from Belanger, Whitney, Eager, Paajarvi, Brown, LaBarbera and Dubnyk to Gordon, Ference, Gazdic, Perron, Henricks, Scrivens and Fasth. So in one year, not to bad an improvement. So while I am as pissed as other Oilers fan, I am excited to see what he does in the off season. He’s done alright so far by me. It might be to slow for my liking, but not bad indeed.
Thank you so much for reading. I LOVE hearing what others have to say. So please leave a comment or interact with me on twitter @shawn_kelemen
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