January 17, 2009
"This is great for me ... Very familiar place, good for my family, close to home. I didn't feel I played as well as I could have [in Russia after becoming a free agent last summer]. This is the best league in the world and this is where I want to be." - Goalie Wade Dubielewicz to Newsday, after coming back to the New York Islanders this week.
Uh, yeah ... about that: Dubielewicz was told by GM Garth Snow after today's skate that his triumphant return to the NHL will occur with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who claimed him on waivers. On the Islanders Beat caught up with Dubie, who said, "I thought he was joking at first, but he wasn't ... He was disappointed, and I'm disappointed."
Rookie Steve Mason, when he isn't getting the shaft from obese referees, is the unquestioned No. 1 goalie in Columbus. The Jackets had been in the market for a veteran backup recently, with discussions about potentially snagging Curtis Sanford from the Vancouver Canucks. They were wise to hold off; Dubie's a better goalie.
Blue Jackets assistant general manager Chris MacFarland said the move does not indicate that Pascal Leclaire will miss the rest of the season because of his ankle injury. That determination is still being made.
"We needed a goaltender," MacFarland said. "We needed an insurance policy. We've gone the last two weeks with the bare minimum."
One could read into this move, however, that Leclaire is finished for the season. Dubielewicz would have to go through waivers for the Blue Jackets to send him to the minor leagues. Their intention must be to keep him at the NHL level, because the Islanders -- obviously -- would claim him.
Leclaire is signed through 2011 with a $3.8 million cap hit. Ah, sweet hindsight.
The Edmonton Oilers traded Garon to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Sabourin, AHL forward Ryan Stone and a 2011 (!) fourth-round pick. The Edmonton Sun believes Sabourin "will either be assigned to the Oilers AHL affiliate in Springfield or moved to another NHL team within the next couple of days." (We hear the Islanders can use a goalie.)
Both goalies are unrestricted free agents this summer, although Garon has pretty much double the cap hit for a team that's pretty much capped out.
For the Penguins, the move is a declaration that Sabourin is no Ty Conklin and that Marc-Andre Fleury's disappointing season -- after a revelatory Stanley Cup playoffs performance -- has earned him both a vote of no-confidence and a competitive kick in the ass from a goalie salivating for playing time in a walk-year. Garon's had a pretty poor season (6-8, .895 save percentage, 3.17 GAA) but he's a proven starter. It's a message that the Penguins aren't going to keep trotting out an ineffective Fleury if the team is on the outside of the playoff picture.
For the Oilers, the declaration of faith in goalie Dwayne Roloson isn't a surprise; Craig MacTavish is coaching for his job, and Roloson gives the Oilers the best chance to make the cut in the Conference of Death this season.
It's also a clear indication of what Garon's value has been on the trade block. Stone's a former second-round pick who has slowly gestated in the Penguins' system. He's a body, and the closer the Oilers got to the deadline the more likely it was Garon would have only earned a low-level pick. So pulling the trigger now makes sense.
(One last note on Stone: Should he make the cut with the Oilers, we have one word: Curfew.)
So some goaltending dominoes have fallen in the NHL. Who's next?