a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Saturday, 3 January 2015

01/03/15 Odds & Ends: Perron Trade, Petry Trade, Dubnyk, Centers

Four more thoughts that you might find interesting.

Jeff Petry Trade

I made my rounds of the blogs this morning, and over at Lowetide he had a link to an article that talks about Montreal's interest in Jeff Petry. You can read it here, but it's in French so be prepared to translate if necessary. The article emphasizes that this would be a minor transaction for the Canadiens, which sucks because it's a major item in Edmonton.

Marc Bergevin has already picked up defensemen Bryan Allen and Sergei Gonchar this season, both of whom are UFAs at the end of the year, in exchange for Rene Bourque and Travis Moen respectively. Those two forwards are mostly useless salary dumps, and those trades happened back in November. Petry is a better player than either Allen or Gonchar, but he's a pure rental. I'd rather just let his contract run out than acquire a bad contract like, say, PA Parenteau, but the Oilers probably won't even get that much at this point.

So because the Oilers have treated Petry like an afterthought, they'll have to replace a guy who is logging over 21 minutes per game. Hello, Darnell Nurse!

David Perron

I tweeted a thought earlier that made me angry. If the Penguins win the Stanley Cup this year, the Oilers will have traded Magnus Paajarvi and the 33rd overall pick in last year's draft for the 30th pick in this year's draft. I know Paajarvi just cleared waivers, but this is an example of asset management with diminishing returns. The 33rd pick in last year's draft is more valuable than the 30th pick this year - despite reports of a strong crop in 2015 - because it's a year closer to helping the team get out of the basement.

This trade doesn't accelerate the rebuild, even if it means getting closer to McDavid or Eichel, and acceleration is what the rebuild needs. Do we have any reason to believe that Hall and Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins will be willing to re-sign when their contracts expire if things continue this way? That's just five short years from now in Hall's case! Drafting these kids was supposed to give us a window for winning the Stanley Cup, not a window for making the playoffs -- and the window with this core is closing rapidly.

Fancy new toys from the draft are great, but the team isn't one star teenager away from being competitive. The endless tanking is making things more difficult in the other ways that you build a team: trades and free agency. Not only are the Oilers dealing from a position of weakness in trades, but the players with No Move or No Trade Clauses will never waive to come to a perennial loser. And would you sign up with this gong show by choice? Not unless the Oilers agreed to pay you well above market value, which is exactly what always happens. They get stuck with the Nikitins and Ferences of the world, and must even massively overpay useful parts like Benoit Pouliot.

The tanking must end, or things will never get better. There's always another phenom at the top of the draft. Every single year. And even if you had them all, it wouldn't make a winner. Just look at the Edmonton Oilers.

Devan Dubnyk

Devan Dubnyk has seen a revival of his career in Arizona. As of this writing he's got a 0.918 Sv% in 18 games. If you subtract last year as a blip, his career save percentage is 0.913. If you subtract his rookie season, otherwise known as the first year the Oilers finished 30th and flushed everything useful, Dubnyk's career save percentage is 0.916.

I know what you're thinking: you can't just subtract bad seasons to make your argument. And normally I'd agree, except when it comes to goalies. As is often said, goaltending is voodoo. Goalies are extremely difficult to predict. I've written about this before:

"In 2011-12, Henrik Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender. However, Lundqvist had a stretch of ten games that year where sported an unsightly 0.888 Sv%."

When it comes to goalies, it seems like a lot has to do with confidence, or swagger, or a bunch of stuff we can't measure. All we can say for sure is that Dubnyk stopped 3,829 of 4,194 shots he faced from his rookie season to 2012-13 (0.912 Sv%), and he did it on some truly terrible Oilers teams. Now he's doing it again. 

With all due respect to Ben Scrivens, he's still got almost 1,300 shots to go before he'll have amassed the body of work that Dubnyk had before last year. Right now Scrivens' 0.911 career save percentage is being propped up by his time in Los Angeles (0.907 without it), and we don't know what he is because he's bounced around the league. When it comes to goalies, all we can trust is the consistency over time, and everything pointed to Dubnyk bouncing back.

The Centers We Had Once

Here's a list of the centers that Craig MacTavish has traded since coming to Edmonton:

Shawn Horcoff
Sam Gagner
Mark Arcobello
Will Acton

It'd be nice to have a Horcoff or Gagner right about now, especially since the combined gain for 2014-15 from those two trades are Teddy Purcell. If you think, as some do, that it was all part of MacTavish's master plan to lose for a couple of years, then could that be the reason that he has weakened the center position? If so, why did Kevin Lowe say that they expect to be in the playoff mix? Was that part of the plan too? Was firing the coach he hired part of the plan?

It's time to accept that this man and everyone running the Oilers are completely out of their depth. As far as anyone can tell, they traded Horcoff and Gagner as a favor to the players. Both were under contract. Both are better options than what the team has now. Both would help to stabilize this runaway train that's on pace for just 16 wins.

Management hasn't been able to improve the center position, to the point that they haven't replaced the players they already had and traded away.

CapGeek Ceases Operations

While researching this article, I discovered that CapGeek.com has permanently ceased operations because of the health of its founder, Matthew Wuest. Losing this tool is a certainly a blow, but a person's health must come first. Whatever the health issue may be, I'm sure we all hope for a quick and full recovery.

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