Something—anything—needed to change with the Edmonton Oilers, who are in the midst of yet another disastrous season. So general manager Craig MacTavish embarked Wednesday on something short of a rebuild but more than a roster tweak.
The Oilers shipped beleaguered goaltender Devan Dubnyk to the Nashville Predators in exchange for fourth-line forward Matt Hendricks, then dealt a third-round pick to the Los Angeles Kings for goaltender Ben Scrivens.
It's very likely the start of an overhaul in Edmonton, and at the end of the day, MacTavish is headed in the right direction.
The logic behind shipping Dubnyk, who before this season was a respectable starting goaltender, for Hendricks seems to be a bit of a mystery. With the pending Scrivens deal, the Oilers needed to make room on the roster for the goaltender, but why do it at the expense of adding a player who has been a healthy scratch with the Predators?
|Ben Scrivens vs. Devan Dubnyk, Career Stats|
Hendricks is 32 years old and under contract with a $1.85 million cap hit through the 2016-17 season. He has two goals and two assists in 44 games this season and 11 goals in his past 170 games bring next to nothing to the table offensively.
He is an adept penalty-killer with success in shootouts, but he will be 36 when the contract expires.
The salary cap will rise over the next three years, so it's nice to have some cost certainty with Hendricks. But dealing a goaltender, even one as poor as Dubnyk has been this season, for someone who provides grit and toughness seems like a huge mistake.
Dubnyk had a .917 save percentage over the past three seasons. Even if it's change for change's sake, dealing Dubnyk for 40 cents on the dollar just to make room for Scrivens makes little sense.
If Hendricks is displacing Luke Gazdic on the fourth line, that's a small albeit expensive upgrade.
The one knock on landing Scrivens is he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. That's a slight gamble for a team giving up what will be a very high third-round pick, but both sides should be able to work out a deal.
Scrivens is 27 years old and a native of Spruce Grove, Alberta, which is about 19 miles (30 kilometers) from Edmonton. He has served as a backup in both Los Angeles and Toronto, but was fantastic when Jonathan Quick was out with a groin injury this season.
Scrivens also played under Oilers coach Dallas Eakins when the two were with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL from 2010-12.
In 19 games with the Kings this season, Scrivens went 7-5-4 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. For his career, Scrivens is 18-19-6 with a 2.54/.917 split.
It remains to be seen if Scrivens can be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL, but he could serve a solid 1A alongside Ilya Bryzgalov if both return next season.
The Oilers have a lot of work to do to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006, but their situation is unique in that a complete rebuild isn't really an option. They've drafted Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in recent years and remain set for the future.
When you're a downtrodden older team, it's easy to trade your aging veterans—Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester with the Calgary Flames, for example—on expiring contracts for younger players.
The Oilers already have the younger players, so they're left to tweak other areas of their roster in the hopes of bolstering depth while everyone else hopefully develops and improves.
MacTavish likely isn't done making moves before the March 5 trade deadline. Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones and Nick Schultz are pending UFAs, and Sam Gagner's name is mentioned in more rumors than just about anyone.
The acquisition of Hendricks and Scrivens won't make or break the Oilers. The future of this franchise rests squarely on the shoulders of its young stars.
Something had to change, though, and these moves are very likely just the beginning.
Contract information courtesy of CapGeek.com.
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