The Edmonton Oilers made a couple of deals, bringing in a new goaltender and taking on a long-term contract for a fourth line forward in the process.
Numbers Game looks at the Oilers adding Ben Scrivens and Matt Hendricks, while sending Devan Dubnyk to Nashville.
The Oilers Get: G Ben Scrivens and LW Matt Hendricks.
Scrivens is a 27-year-old who has played 51 NHL games in his career, so he has a limited track record but, in that time, he has a .917 save percentage, which isn't bad at all. It's certainly good enough to get a chance at some regular playing time in Edmonton and, considering how the Oilers' season has gone, there should be plenty of opportunity for Scrivens and Ilya Bryzgalov to compete the rest of the way as they audition for next season.
Both Scrivens and Bryzgalov will be unrestricted free agents in the summer, so it's entirely possible that Edmonton could be starting from scratch on the goaltending market in the summer, but there is also a real opportunity for Scrivens to seize the opportunity and, if he plays well, earn a contract offer that will make him the likely starter.
It can't hurt Scrivens that he has experience playing for Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins (with the AHL Toronto Marlies, where Scrivens had a .923 save percentage in 94 games) and if Scrivens plays well the rest of the way, Eakins could be comfortable moving forward with him as the No. 1 or even as part of a timeshare with another goaltender.
Scrivens makes a miniscule $550,000 this season but, provided he plays well, will be due for a decent raise -- maybe something in the neighbourhood of $2.5-million per -- as an unrestricted free agent.
Hendricks, 32, is a warrior, who has battled his way into the NHL, finally sticking as a 28-year-old. There's no denying his toughness -- he has 48 fights in the past five seasons -- his face-off skill or, even, some career shootout success (9-for-17, 52.9%), but to take on a four-year contract, at $1.85-million per, for a player with those skills is highly questionable.
It's not that the addition of Hendricks is going to be a backbreaker for the Oilers, but money matters, whether it's in relation to the salary cap or an internal budget and paying nearly $2-million for a fourth-line winger is not how the best teams are building their rosters and it's the term that is troubling. When we know how hard Hendricks has played throughout his career, who would feel good about his chances of staying healthy and (relatively) productive through age 35?
The Oilers needed more toughness on the lower half of their forward depth chart, and that's fine, but making that financial commitment for toughness has not been the typical approach for successful teams, so if Hendricks provides value for the Oilers, more power to them, but it looks like a lot to pay for the role he plays.
The Predators Get: G Devan Dubnyk.
Part of the reason that the Oilers were expected to compete for a playoff spot this season is that Dubnyk, 27, was a solid, if under-appreciated puckstopper in recent seasons. From 2010-2011 through 2012-2013, Dubnyk had a .917 save percentage. Among goaltenders with at least 100 games in that span, that placed Dubnyk 12th, in the same territory as Sergei Bobrovsky, Kari Lehtonen and Carey Price; pretty good company.
Then the season started and Dubnyk couldn't do anything right. In his first eight appearances, he allowed at least three goals seven times, posting an .878 save percentage, and it hasn't been much better since. Dubnyk's .894 save percentage ranks 39th out of 39 goalies to play at least 20 games this season. Had he been an average starting goaltender, with a .913 save percentage, that would have saved the Oilers close to 17 goals, which isn't nearly enough to make them competitive, but they might not have been staring at a lottery pick right from the first month of the season.
In any case, Dubnyk gets a fresh start, with a track record that suggests he deserves one. With Pekka Rinne injured, and with no timetable for his return, the Predators have been making do with Marek Mazanec and Carter Hutton, and while they have had some decent games, they rank 33rd and 34th, respectively, on that list of 39 goaltenders, both posting .902 save percentages this season.
Nashville, currently eight points out of a playoff spot, realizes that they're not likely to make up that ground with their goaltenders stopping 90.2% of the shots they face, so why not take a chance on Dubnyk rebounding? If he performs closer to his career norms, maybe the Predators can scramble into the playoff picture. If not, no big deal, because the Oilers retained some of the salary on Dubnyk's contract (which pays $3.5-million per) and he will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end, making it a low-risk move for the Predators.
The move is even better, from Nashville standards, because they managed to get out from under the four-year term on Hendricks' contract. He's a gritty fourth-line forward, who is paid too much for that role, but the Predators can give Rich Clune more consistent playing time and/or recall Filip Forsberg or Taylor Beck, moving a winger like Gabriel Bourque down the depth chart, if need be.
The Kings Get: A third-round pick.
When Jonathan Quick was injured earlier in the year and the Kings were forced to recall Martin Jones, the Kings found out that they had another NHL-ready goaltender in the system and with Scrivens heading towards unrestricted free agency at season's end, there was an opportunity to deal Scrivens, and open up a spot on the NHL roster for Jones, while adding an asset in the form of a draft pick.
Jones was spectacular in his first NHL action, going 8-3 with a 1.41 goals against average and .950 save percentage in 11 games. That won't continue, because he's not superhuman, but the 6-foot-4, 24-year-old is a quality prospect, one that has posted a .922 save percentage in 151 AHL games, and is worthy of promotion.
Working out the Kings' depth chart, Jones' promotion also means that Jean-Francois Berube, a fourth-round pick in 2009, should get the bulk of the starts for Manchester in the AHL, but with Quick and Jones in Los Angeles, there is no urgency for more goaltending.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.