Monday, 13 February 2012
02/13/12 Fixing This Mess
The time before the NHL trade deadline is shrinking and so is the confidence of Oilers fans that Steve Tambellini can make something big happen. As has been covered at great length, Ales Hemsky appears to be a mishandled asset, but there may still be a way to navigate these troubled times.
David Shoalts from The Globe and Mail wrote that the Chicago Blackhawks are in need of an experienced goaltender to help push them over the top for the rest of the season and the playoffs, and that Nikolai Khabibulin may be the only man available. It's unclear whether the Hawks would want to add an aging goalie with another year left on his contract, but they do have some experience with Khabibulin.
If the Oilers can move Khabibulin to the Blackhawks - or any team for that matter - they'd be well advised to do it. As Jonathan Willis wrote at OilersNation, there really is no need to spend a huge amount of money on goaltending in order to get reasonable results unless you're talking about the absolute elite. Devan Dubnyk could have done worse than Khabibulin as a goaltending mentor for this part of his career, and Khabibulin has certainly redeemed himself with his play in the eyes of many, but it may be time for he and the Oilers to part ways. If Khabby doesn't get traded his cap hit will still come off the books when the Oilers' rookies need new contracts, but freeing up a goalie spot allows the Oilers to make another move now.
Darren Dreger said that a deal between the Oilers and Kings involving Ales Hemsky and Jonathan Bernier might make some sense. With the market for top-six forwards as thin as it's ever been at deadline time, the asking price for a player like Hemsky will be relatively high. Whether Hemsky still has enough value to snatch a player like Bernier away from the Kings is unknown, but there are other goalies out there.
St. Louis prospect Ben Bishop was just named MVP of the AHL All Star Game and has posted a solid season for Peoria this season with a 2.30 GAA, a 0.926 Sv% and a 22-13-0 record. Unless he gets into 17 NHL games this year it appears that he will become an Unrestricted Free Agent this summer. If the Oilers were to trade Hemsky for a package that included Bishop they could try to play him in the required number of games and retain his rights as a Restricted Free Agent.
Trades that send Khabibulin and Hemsky away for a goaltender with potential sound like an improvement if you frame them right, but they would be no more than a lateral move at best. These trades would simply help to undo the mess that has already been made. It would allow the Oilers to part ways with Khabibulin a year early without buying him out, and actually get something they need in exchange for Hemsky. Not exactly earth-shattering, but that's the situation we're faced with.