Word leaked out this afternoon that the Oilers had signed Ilya Bryzgalov. The deal is rumoured to be for $1.75M on a one-year deal. This came after trading Ladislav Smid for forward Roman Horvath and Laurent Broissoit. Supposedly this deal was to clear the cap space for the Bryzgalov signing.
So the press has labeled the Ilya Bryzgalov as a desperate move? No kidding Sherlock. The Oilers dynamic (cough, cough) duo of Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera has been terrible. Dubnyk’s save percentage of .878 ranks 59h of out of the 70 goaltenders that have played this season. LaBarbera is even worse; his .858 save percentage is 67th out of 70 goaltenders played this season. While not the only problem the Oilers have, goaltending has been the Oilers biggest problem this season.
Something had to give. And it did. I have no problem with the signing of Bryzgalov. Yes, he is an oddball to put it mildly. He became a household name for the strange ideas that he proclaimed so loudly and proudly on the HBO show 24/7. He also compared Edmonton to the North Pole in defending Pronger’s trade request out of Edmonton.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The goaltending has been a major problem. Why not try Bryzgalov? At this point what do the Oilers really have to lose? There is no guarantee that he will be better than Dubnyk and LaBarbera but based on the above stats, can he be worse? Perhaps it also will push Dubnyk to be better.
The trade of Smid is less understandable. He does have a 3.5 million-cap hit and a four-year term. Smid’s play is erratic, and this season he has struggled defensively. Klefbom and Nurse will make him expendable but that is the future. If the Oilers were deep at defence and had a plethora of physical defensemen the trade would be more palatable.
At present when both moves are taken in tandem you get the impression the Oilers are robbing Peter to pay Paul. They are taking from a position of weakness –defence – to clear cap space to deal for a position of weakness -goaltending. The Oilers may think that Anton Belov and Taylor Fedun can replace Smid, but I am hesitant to come to that same conclusion based on such a limited sample size. Fedun has played 2 games. Belov 15.
I am still unclear why the Oilers needed to clear cap space for the 1.75 million dollars that Bryzgalov signed for. I do not believe for a minute that the Oilers are done but I can’t analyze the moves on what might happen in the future. Broissoit is a better prospect than Roy. The Oilers did sign another goaltending prospect in Chet Pickard to an AHL/ECHL deal to add some much-needed goaltending depth. Dealing Smid at this time doesn’t make a lot of sense. But desperate times call for desperate measures. While no trade is imminent, rumours are swirling that Mactavish is trying to do more. I don’t think all the puzzle pieces are on the table. There will be more to come.