There’s a striking thing about the fate of three teams that might have been the most miserable this past weekend in the NHL.
If you ask me, the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators are taking the right paths … for the other franchises. Some of the decisions I disagree with go back months or are bigger picture concerns, but just one man’s opinion:
What Edmonton did/is doing: Sign Ilya Bryzgalov, trade an experienced player (Ladislav Smid) for more “futures” and seemingly sticking with the same old, same old.
What Edmonton should have done: Be uncomfortably patient with their struggling young goalie (Devan Dubnyk), try to weigh the future with a win-now mentality in free agency.
What Nashville did/is doing: Be uncomfortably patient with their struggling young goalie (Carter Hutton), try to weigh the future with a win-now mentality in free agency (About $11 million spent on forwards).
What Nashville should have done: Sign Ilya Bryzgalov - OR - trade a veteran for more “futures” and build around a strong defensive core for 2014-15 and beyond. Show management that continued failure could mean a pink slip.
What Florida did/is doing: Show management that continued failure means a pink slip, yet seemingly sticking with the same old, same old when it comes to the roster.
What Florida should have done: Wishing for a time machine to draft Seth Jones, trade as many experienced players for “futures” as salary cap rules will allow.
I could be totally wrong, but I feel like these three teams would have better outlooks (either in the short-term, long-term or both) if they merely adopted a different team’s blueprint.
Instead, the Oilers and Panthers seem like they may very well be thinking about the 2014 NHL Draft by the time 2014 rolls around while the Predators lost 10-0 in two games, with Hutton allowing eight goals on 31 shots this weekend.
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NOT SO EASY BREEZY
All that aside, it’s heartening to see Ilya Bryzgalov with an NHL gig. However you might think of the intergalactically intrigued Husky-lover, the Russian goalie isn’t all that far removed from putting together near-Vezina-level work with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Really, the best way to illustrate “Good Breezy” vs. “Bad Breezy” might be to compare and contrast his stats with the Flyers vs. Coyotes (his numbers with the Anaheim Ducks were promising at times, but his opportunities were too sparse to really note).
2007-08: 55 GP, 26-22-6, .921 save percentage, 2.43 GAA
2008-09: 65 GP, 26-31-6, .906 sv%, 2.98 GAA
2009-10: 69 GP, 42-20-6, .920 sv%, 2.29 GAA
2010-11: 68 GP, 36-20-10, .921 sv%, 2.48 GAA
2011-12: 59 GP, 33-16-7, .909 sv%, 2.48 GAA
2012-13: 40 GP, 19-17-3, .900 sv%, 2.79 GAA
So, no doubt about it, Bryzgalov saw a big drop-off in Philadelphia. That being said, his 2011-12 season was at least salvageable and he was leaned on a ton last season. There’s reason to believe that Breezy might be able to save his career outside of the goalie-killing atmosphere that can abound in Philly.
RIGHT GUY, WRONG TOWN
Edmonton isn’t exactly an ideal fit, though. And not just because Bryzgalov’s already apologizing by clarifying comparisons that he made between the city and … the North Pole.
If you believe that Bryzgalov was propped up by Dave Tippett’s tight-checking system, then Edmonton serves little solace for Mr. Universe. The Oilers are on a short list of teams who may boast a defense that’s as “accommodating” to scorers as the Flyers’ sometimes-woeful group can be.
Again, I can’t state it enough how much more sense - and how harmonic it would be for fantasy owners - to see Bryzgalov wolf down tangy barbecue in Tennessee. Sure, Pekka Rinne’s (eventual) return could complicate things if Breezy played well in Barry Trotz’s usually tight system, but Predators fans would gladly choose two competent goalies over the risk of none.
Don’t feel bad for Bryzgalov, though. He has his money and an opportunity to grab another NHL job in 2014-15.
If you’re going to pity anyone, how about one of the NHL’s hardest luck goalies not named Ryan Miller: Devan Dubnyk.
As I mentioned in this Oct. 15 Dose, the big goalie came into this season with solid individual stats, especially if you ignore his rookie year growing pains. That’s obviously not the case so far this season, as he’s shown that contract years don’t always work out for netminders, he's 3-8-1 with a horrific .876 save percentage and 80's reminiscent 3.92 GAA in 13 games played this season.
It’s hard for me to imagine that the Oilers’ worries are just related to goaltending - if you were building a prototypical championship team, how many of their defensemen would make the cut? - but those are season-killing numbers.
Dubnyk should get a few more reps as Bryzgalov’s warm-up time seems unclear. Even so, his already slumping fantasy value takes a nosedive now.
(Do chew on this, though: Tim Thomas has had trouble staying healthy after being a late signing by the Florida Panthers. So maybe DD will get more chances … or perhaps it will be a platoon situation?)
If you’re looking for a decent third goalie or even an audition for a fourth spot (if you’re willing to sacrifice some space to try to improve your goaltending), then Bryzgalov is an easy recommendation. At worst, he’s a gamble who could be a lot of fun to watch. He certainly has a lot of money and pride to play for.
That Oilers team doesn’t exactly seem primed to make life easy for him, however.
Jaromir Jagr scored a goal for career point 1,700 and assisted on Travis Zajac’s 100th career goal for number 1,701. Amazing to ponder what those numbers would look like without that KHL sojourn. Jagr’s absolutely worth owning, by the way … Sure, he hasn’t had to work very hard for them (15 and 22 stops respectively), but Martin Brodeur has two straight shutouts nonetheless. As expected, Cory Schneider’s should-be strong value is greatly impaired … While the Florida Panthers’ situation is dour (nine straight losses), I wouldn’t be shocked to see boosts on some of their solid guys. Brian Campbell scored his first two goals of 2013-14, for instance … Frederik Andersen keeps winning after seemingly coming out of nowhere. The Ducks did similar things with Viktor Fasth last season. Could they be ahead of the curve in finding goalie value? … Again, Ryan McDonagh's starting to translate that real-life brilliance into fantasy promise. He has a three-game point streak (two goals, two assists) and seven points in his last seven games. Good thing he's under contract long-term, eh? ... Justin Peters has been fantastic the last three games, allowing three goals in that span.
INJURIES (full list)
The Islanders are on a four-game losing streak and Thomas Vanek's on the shelf with an upper-body injury. Is Garth Snow getting nervous yet? ... Ryan Getzlaf followed his first career hat trick (and six points in two games) by sitting out Sunday's game with an upper-body injury. Uh oh ... Speaking of Ducks, what exactly is going on with Viktor Fasth's back? ... Christian Ehrhoff's dealing with a lower-body injury ... Sounds like Curtis Glencross could be out as many as six weeks. At least Lee Stempniak returned to Flames practice on Sunday ... Stephen Weiss and Johan Franzen have their usual nagging issues ... The Devils placed Jonathon Merrill (facial lacerations) on the IR. Patrik Elias can't seem to get on track, either.