The Case for Hiring Khabibulin

In a thread below respected blogger speeds asked me a question about Nikolai Khabibulin and my support of his signing.

Quoting speeds: “What made you change your stance here, LT? I can remember the topic of Biron at 9 mil over 3 years coming up in the July 1st thread, and you mentioning that would be crazy. Is this not far “crazier” in your mind?”

I gave Michael a quick explanation last night, but felt a need to write a more coherent response this morning (plus can’t sleep anyway).

Earlier in the off-season, I gave my opinon about how the Oilers summer would go if they let me behind the wheel. My thoughts and various responses are here and detail my preference to replace Roloson AND Deslauriers with Jaroslav Halak and a veteran backup (I chose Jason LaBarbara in the model, now I’d chase Biron).

When the Oilers signed Khabibulin, it was certainly not my first choice as a fan. Those dollars could have been used up front on a free agent where there are a lot of question marks, or perhaps even better saved for a time in the summer (like now) when teams are drowning in dollars and cannot make a move without a salary dump.

So I began looking at reasons why the Oilers would have made this decision. At this blog and others everyone was well aware of the plethora of good goaltenders available through free agency this summer and it was completely reasonable to believe the Oilers could get a bargain who would also be more than adequate. However, as a new hire I’m not certain Tambellini would choose starting goaltender as the position he’d like to get ballsy on, especially with the new head coach probably expressing a strong desire for a proven starter.

I think Steve Tambellini sat down with Pat Quinn and Tom Renney and they made a list of off-season priorities. Right at the top was goaltending. I believe Tambellini said after the signing that the formet Jet was right at the top of their list but they weren’t sure he was going to come along. Remember, Khabibulin was coming off a successful season and a famous post-season so likely had increased value despite the warts (a very poor delivery on wins for the dollars Chicago spent over the last few seasons). It’s also true that Khabibulin’s SP (.919) was good for a 6th place tie league-wide in 2008-09. Further, the was no guarantee that there would be a Marty Biron standing at the end of this process, and in fact the Islanders ended up being a surprise free agent player at the goalie position. If a team like Philadelphia had suddenly entered the picture, or Chicago pushed harder to bring Khabibulin back, the Oilers could easily have been on the outside looking in July 1 (in terms of a proven starter, which was clearly the priority).

The contract (a long one for significant dollars) has been universally panned by the blogosphere. I’m not certain it’s the doom contract some are claiming, it seems to me the Oilers could trade the contract if Khabibulin is injured long term or retires. A team needing to get to the cap floor would no doubt have use for this type of contract, and although the Oilers may need to give up an additional asset at that time we may be going overboard in terms of the almost universal distaste for the contract.

The decision about what goalie to sign offers us major insight into the organization’s new hires (Tambellini, Quinn and Renney). It runs counter to Ken Holland’s first major move as General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings. The club had just won the 1997 Stanley and were having trouble signing Mike Vernon. Holland dealt him to San Jose for picks and elevated Chris Osgood to a starting role for the following season and they won the Stanley again with Osgood playing all but one of the playoff minutes.

Holland had a team that had just come off a Stanley and were loaded. Tambellini isn’t in the same position with this hockey club. I think there is a reasonable case to be made here that with the circumstances as they are, Tambellini was justified in taking what he believed to be the safest hire.

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316 Responses to "The Case for Hiring Khabibulin"

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  1. Coach pb9617 says:

    Biron at 1.4 million.

    Legace and Gerber could have been a tandem for 2 million.

    *smacks forehead*

  2. Coach pb9617 says:

    Tambellini played this one badly. End of story.

    It's not over, kid. It never will be.

    HBOMB! TO THE BATPHONE, I NEED SOMETHING TO DRINK TO KILL THE PAIN!

  3. gogliano says:

    I'm with LT on this, I think (if I read him right).

    1. Not the optimal result, nor would it be the way I would have acted if I have a decent handle on the facts.

    2. Khabibulin is an easy guy for the stats guys to dislike for the money he'll get because it is pretty clear, long term, his sv % is lower than one would expect for a so-called clear #1.

    3. I don't trust sv % enough (outside of establishing a decent range) to ding the GM for going after the guy he wants and getting him; in the long run I like the idea of going for quality.

    4. Saying Tamb. misread the market assumes that his goal was getting the most bang for his buck. Maybe this is the only goal he should be thinking about but it sounds like he wanted quality in a position where you can't have a Kiprusoff. (I agree that Khabibulin might not be the quality Tambs seems to think he is but let's see the results before we hang the guy).

    5. I'll add this: I know psychology etc. is often discounted but the idea of having a legitimate goalie back there might be shared not just by Tamb, or Quinn or Renney, but also by some of the players. It doesn't seem absurd to me that going out and signing a "name" goalie might have a small but not unsubstantial on the collective psychology of a club. I don't think Roloson simply played lights out in the 06 run, though he did that; he was also a cocky crazy mofo who came to a team who was used to being let down by its goaltending. It isn't absurd to think this has a small effect on behavior that over a long season will have an effect on results.

    I think the goalie decision falls into the grey area of hockey management and being certain this portends doom for Oilers management seems a little rich to me. The goalie position is one of magic and witchcraft.

  4. Coach pb9617 says:

    By the way, if you want a fancy name for the above, call it Deconstructed Chicken Parm :)

  5. Bruce says:

    Here's my concern on Khabibulin:

    Season : GP, GAA , Sv % , Pts%
    ——————————–
    2005-06: 50, 3.35, .886, .408
    2006-07: 60, 2.86, .902, .491
    2007-08: 50, 2.63, .909, .531
    2008-09: 42, 2.33, .919, .713

    Across the board improvement in every percentage from Year 1 through 4 in Chicago. The only elite year was 2008-09, which was the season he a) played the fewest games and b) had competition for the #1 job. Not unrelated facts obviously.

    In other years his back-ups were second-tier guys (he said charitably) like Patrick Lalime, Brian Boucher and (early) Craig Anderson.

    Now Khabibulin gets Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who will neither push him nor (one assumes) play a lot, at least not until Khabibulin gets tired/hurt. Thankfully it's not MacT who tends to pencil in the same goalie night after night after night until he drops, but it's hard to imagine Quinn doing things a whole lot differently if the difference in quality between the two is as large as I think it is.

    If Khabi plays his best as part of a strong tandem then it's not hard to see trouble brewing. Maybe we should have signed Biron to be a strong #2. :)

  6. Bar Qu says:

    Translucent

    A beautiful word that NEVER gets used. It makes me think of crystaline formations deep under the Arizona desert, sparkling in the foreign light.

    Or a well cooked shallot (Lady of … ?)

  7. oilerdago says:

    You know Biron might be perfect in Long Island where the pressure to win is not great.

    I can understand the complaints about Bulin's contract and Tyler's numbers speak for themselves.

    But few of the people writing these threads have acknowledged the issues Biron has had (or Gerber or Legace). The complaints about Biron not being a big time goaltender started in Buffalo and followed him to Philly and that's why he's now left to make what he can on the Island.

    Time will tell, but at this point I'd have been more upset with Tambs this summer if Biron or Legace were coming to Edmonton and am willing to see what happens before saying he's screwed up the goaltending.

  8. oil dude says:

    There isn't anybody who can honestly say that this 1.4M deal would have been signed on July 1st. The oilers grabbed a veteran goalie with a long track record on July 1st for a reasonable cap hit (compared to last years goalies) even though the term is too long.

    If people want to advocate that we should have waited 3 weeks and shop in the bargain bin for our goaltending solution, then just imagine a perfectly plausible scenario where on july 1 habby resigns with chi, biron signs with avs, roloson to isles, clemmsonson to florida, and anderson to where ever (van? BJs?), while Tambo is sitting there apparently doing nothing. In that scenario ALL of oil country would be calling for tambos head including me. Sometimes we as fans get so worked up about cap hits and such that we forget about putting decent NHL players on the ice.

    Oh and if someone can tell me that they knew this scenario would NOT play out before july 1st then I need next weeks winning lottery numbers too.

  9. godot10 says:

    Tambellin's goaltending decision is consistent with his coaching decision.

    The team isn't going anywhere if Quinn was uncomfortable with the goaltender. The goaltender had to have a track record.

    Khabibulin and Roloson were the only two UFA's with track records…i.e. winning in the playoffs.

    Pat Quinn and a moneypuck goaltender would not be a comfortable situation for Quinn.

    Based on his coaching decision, Tambellini made a correct goaltending decision.

    Biron had a solid Philadelphia team in front of him, and couldn't get it done in the playoffs.

  10. Jonathan Willis says:

    Fun playoff stats-lines from last season for the "Biron isn't a big-game goaltender" crowd:

    Biron: 2-4, 1 SO, .919 SV%
    Khabibulin: 8-6, 0 SO, .898 SV%

    As for off-ice issues, remind me again what Ed Belfour was like in the dressing room. Or Tom Barrasso.

  11. Jonathan Willis says:

    LT: I don't think Tambellini is a fool. And I think your viewpoint is reasonable.

    I disagree with you, and that's fine. I don't even think Khabibulin is a horrible signing – if we ignore the climate the signing occurred in.

    Speaking of which, now that Biron's signed on to the Island, where are Harding and Fernandez going to play?

  12. NBOilerFan says:

    Well, I was one of the few that (maybe only) that was pushing for Biron before July 1st. Unlike Lowetide, I would have been happy for a 3m for 3yrs deal. IMO, Biron was the best UFA goalie option with the most positive numbers, most proven track record and still relatibely young. I never honestly felt that Halak was even available.

    There were other options that I would have been okay with and to be honest, I'm also fine with Khabby. He is a very good goalie, but my issue is the term and dollars on an over 35 years old goalie.

    There is simply too much risk here, imo that this contract ends up bein ga big thorn in our sides. I know others have said the contract might still be movable in a couple years, but I doubt it personally. Time will tell.

    But I also have to defend Tambs and agree 100% with Lowetide in that Tambs set his sights on his target and went after it. I won't be surprised if Biron had been 2nd on their list but they had made up their minds on what goalie they wanted and they were clearly going for experience. Did they over bid? Did they miss judge the market? IMO, yes, certainly. And this reeks of Kevin Lowe as well, IMO.

    They wanted Rolie and probably had 2-3 guys (all with experience) on their list, went out aggressively and got the guy they wanted… quickly. I can't completely fault them for that. I woud never had guessed, even in the over-inflated goalie market that someone has quality as Biron would still be available, and I'm guessing nether did Tambs.

    But they did get a quality goaltender, I can live with this deal and feel we have a very competent goalie. I just hope this contract doesn't hurt us to much in a couple years from now.

    Tambellini better hope not as well.

  13. NBOilerFan says:

    FYI – It's kinda funny that Roloson left the Oilers where he was pretty much 100% guaranteed the starting spot and ends up in another 3-headed goalie monster situation.

    He must be shaking his head.

  14. godot10 says:

    //Biron: 2-4, 1 SO, .919 SV%
    Khabibulin: 8-6, 0 SO, .898 SV%//

    They don't hand out the Stanley Cup to the goaltender with the best save percentage, they hand it out to the goaltender with the most wins.

    Biron has a lousy playoff track record, of either losing series, or sitting on the bench.

  15. Steve says:

    They don't hand out the Stanley Cup to the goaltender with the best save percentage, they hand it out to the goaltender with the most wins.

    No, they hand it to the captain of the *team* with the most wins. The goaltender can best contribute to that by stopping the greatest possible percentage of shots.

  16. Jonathan Willis says:

    Godot10: Damn, and all this time I thought Kipper didn't deserve the Vezina.

  17. HBomb says:

    Coach: Been kind of lazy with the drinks lately, but a couple nice summertime recommendations…

    1) Bud Light Lime sucks when compared to Big Rock lime. Not even close, really.

    2) Monkey's Lunch is an old favorite: 2 shots Kahlua, 1 shot banana liqueur, milk. Serve over ice garnished with a cherry.

    I'll go all chemistry set over the long weekend and try to come up with something involving Jack Daniels.

  18. Big Dan says:

    It baffles me that so many people here think Marty Biron is a #1 goaltender.

    He is not. He is unreliable- very hot and cold. I don't care that Tambo could have got him for $1.4M had he rolled the dice.

    He'd be a bargain but the Oilers would NEVER make the playoffs with him in the pipes. He's average, like another Tommy Salo.

    (And could you imagine the belly aching so far this summer if the Oilers were goalie-less the last few weeks?)

    I hate the Bulin signing not for the $$ (they got their man so they're happy).

    Like everybody, I hate the term but I'm sure there are options. If he retires or goes to the KHL, they can trade his remaining cap hit to a team like Phoenix.

    I just hope his old, frail body can stay healthy for a couple years (yeah right) until Dubnyk is ready.

    But I'd still take Khabibulin A MILLION TIMES OVER Biron. He's steady and he's a winner.

  19. quain says:

    I'm curious, can someone identify to me who the winners are? Every goaltender that gets brought up is not a winner or needs to learn how to win, except Khabibulin of course. But he lost last season as far as I recall. Does that offset his prior winningness? Does Osgood just know how to WinMore? Will we make the playoffs now that our goaltender knows how to win? Do forwards need to learn how to win? Will Sam Gagner learn how to win from Khabibulin? Does Dave Gagner know how to win? Will Vancouver file suit if Dave Gagner teaches Sam how to win? Is that tampering? Where are my pants?

  20. PDO says:

    1) Bud Light Lime sucks when compared to Big Rock lime. Not even close, really.

    I like you.

    Quite a bit, really. Just because truer words have never been spoken.

    Neat fact: Bud Light Lime was out a few years ago under a different name (Sidewinder maybe?) and was advertised as a "lime cooler flavoured with beer" or something along those lines.

    Flopped terribly.

    And now…

  21. bookie says:

    Blah Blah Blah Oilers Suck…

    Blah Blah Blah no they don't…

    Blah Blah Blah…

  22. Jonathan Willis says:

    It baffles me that so many people here think Marty Biron is a #1 goaltender.

    He's started 35-or-more games 7 of the last 8 seasons, and 55-or-more in five of them.

    Absolutely baffling that people here would think he's a starter.

    He'd be a bargain but the Oilers would NEVER make the playoffs with him in the pipes. He's average, like another Tommy Salo.

    Fun fact: the Oilers made the playoffs three times with Tommy Salo in net. Further fun fact: the team Martin Biron has played the bulk of his games with in each of the last four seasons has made the playoffs.

    (And could you imagine the belly aching so far this summer if the Oilers were goalie-less the last few weeks?)

    That's absolutely a good reason to rush to sign a four-year, 15-million dollar contract.

    But I'd still take Khabibulin A MILLION TIMES OVER Biron. He's steady and he's a winner.

    Further fun fact: Khabibulin, at age 31, had advanced past the first round a grand total of (1) times. Biron, at age 31, has advanced past the first round (1) time.

  23. Ribs says:

    Ahh… Summer in Oilerland at its finest.

    I have a problem with this BudLime phenomenon as well. I've been going to the ol' pub with the hockey team for a decade now and guys have been ordering a side glass of lime or clam for their beers since I can remember. Why's everyone so keen on it now? Why does everyone get teed off when the liquor barn is out of BudLime? You can't just go get some lime juice and add it yourself?

  24. dawgbone says:

    PDO and LT:

    There weren't many teams looking for goalies, eh:

    Edmonton – Khabibulin
    New York Isles – Roloson
    Colorado – Craig Anderson
    Vancouver – Andrew Raycroft
    St. Louis – Ty Conklin
    Philadelphia – Emery and Brian Boucher
    Toronto – Jonas Gustavsson
    Tampa Bay – Nittymaki
    New Jersey – Yann Danis
    Montreal – Curtis Sanford
    Pittsburgh – Brent Johnson

    Thats 11 teams, plus Calgary, Detroit, Boston, and others have backup goalie issues.

    You guys are talkin out of your ass on this one.

    Did you try and prove a point by listing off 8 backup goaltenders who signed with new teams for significantly less money?

    Teams were not looking for starting goaltenders… and despite that the Oilers through out the biggest contract out of anyone to fill that position.

    I can't see how you think this list does anything but disprove your point.

  25. Lowetide says:

    DanMan: I have no idea what you mean by your list, but want to reiterate a point that I believe is important that you may have missed.

    If we're to believe the Oilers (who did not have a starter and do not have veteran depth) should have been patient as free agency rolled out we'd be able to track:

    1. Only Colorado buying a starter early
    2. The ufa goalies begin to squirm.
    3. Other clubs spend their free agent money in other areas.

    Fair?

    Okay, July 1st comes and the Oilers sign Khabibulin and Colorado signs Craig Anderson. ALSO on the first day of free agency the following starters were signed:

    1. The Islanders sign Roloson.
    2. Florida signs Scott Clemmensen.

    So the goaltending market was not just a two team race on July 1. The Islanders had some trouble, Florida had a hole, Chicago was in the Khabibulin sweeps and we had Colorado spending money too.

    On day one.

    My assertion is that the Oilers were (on July 1) almost the reverse of where Martin Biron was today: somewhat exposed in terms of a possible dance partner.

    They made their list, they called the first guy and they had to extend themselves to get the deal done. From where we sit today it would be very easy to say the Oilers and Tambellini blew it, and in fact most Oiler fans apparently feel that way.

    I don't.

    Anyway, that runs counter to your post and since this thread is all over the place I wanted to re-state the timeline.

  26. dawgbone says:

    They don't hand out the Stanley Cup to the goaltender with the best save percentage, they hand it out to the goaltender with the most wins.

    Biron has a lousy playoff track record, of either losing series, or sitting on the bench.

    Are you suggesting that Khabibulin could have won against Pittsburgh when he couldn't win against the team who Pittsburgh beat?

    Honest question… who played better, Biron vs Pittsburgh or Khabibulin vs Vancouver?

  27. Lord Bob says:

    The Oilers Choosing Khabibulin over Biron, A One-Act Radio Play by Lord Bob.

    AAAUUGH (slam) AAUUUUUUGH (slam) AUUUUUUUUUUGH (slam)

  28. Coach pb9617 says:

    It baffles me that so many people here think Marty Biron is a #1 goaltender.

    He is not. He is unreliable- very hot and cold. I don't care that Tambo could have got him for $1.4M had he rolled the dice.

    He'd be a bargain but the Oilers would NEVER make the playoffs with him in the pipes. He's average, like another Tommy Salo.

    Philadephia was 24th in Corsi with -347 and made the playoffs.

    Edmonton was 23rd in Corsi with -323. They did not.

    Philly was bottom three in penalties taken.

    Biron got them to the playoffs.

  29. speeds says:

    It is far too easy to look at the situation now, with Biron signing on the island and, with the ease of hindsight, second guess the decision to sign the Bulin wall. Tambi didn't have that option of hindsight when he signed the Bulin wall. So, for better or worse, the Oilers made a decision based on the information they had available at that time.

    Where is the hindsight here?

    MC was talking about this well before July 1st.

  30. Ender says:

    Let me rephrase.

    If we assume that the people who are getting paid the big bucks are at all competent at their jobs:

    Biron should have been signed immediately by one team or another if he were as good as some of you think that he is unless he was a) asking for the moon and wouldn't budge, or b) People weren't asking because they didn't want him (for whatever reason).

    Since it was apparent from the get-go that not a lot of teams were looking for a #1, any reasonably competent agent or player would have come down quickly – let's say into the 3-4mil/per range. If a team then really wanted that goalie over another but didn't like the price, they would have bartered them down further.

    Khabibulin was Edmonton's #1 pick for good or ill, and presumably Roloson was NYI's #1 pick since he went so quickly.

    Biron lost his bargaining position more and more as the summer has gone by, obviously. It's basic economics. However, you can't just say that it's a buyer's market and compare Biron to Bulin here IMO.

    No team was willing to wait on or deal with Biron until now, and I don't see how that isn't some sort of character issue – whether that's him being too proud to drop his price from the get-go or nobody wanted him due to things we don't know about, there *has* to be something there. Otherwise we're moving on from armchair GM and armchair coach to armchair agent, and by the time you get to agent, again IMO, you have nothing other than circumstantial evidence to say about why or why not Roloson got signed on day 1 and Biron did not.

  31. Lord Bob says:

    If we assume that the people who are getting paid the big bucks are at all competent at their jobs

    See, there's your mistake right there.

  32. rickibear says:

    Are you suggesting that Khabibulin could have won against Pittsburgh when he couldn't win against the team who Pittsburgh beat?

    Yeah cause the best player in the game faced pittsburg in all seven games. Oh wait!

    Pathetic argument!

  33. Ender says:

    If we assume that the people who are getting paid the big bucks are at all competent at their jobs

    See, there's your mistake right there.

    I don't know if that's sarcastic or not, so I'll treat it as though it's serious. My apologies if it is just sarcastic.

    It's really easy to say what you would or wouldn't do in any situation when you don't need to deal with the consequences. These people get paid a lot of money to do what they do, and an agent who manages to find Roli a gig at 2.5×2 looks like a pretty good goalie agent to me.

    Either way, I know that I will never have enough evidence (if I ever have any evidence) of why Biron didn't go early. All things being equal, I'd rather give people the benefit of the doubt that they're competent at their jobs. YMMV.

  34. boopronger says:

    budlime sucks. dont need my beer tasting like fermented lime pop. I like my beer to taste, well, like beer.

    I remember hearing something about Birons character. I think there is more to the story then what the fans know. Stats are nice, but there are some things they cant tell us. Like if the goalie is a whiny bitch or a headcase.

    Anyways, there is a reason why Biron went to the islanders, they are dysfunctional. But then again, the oilers probably are too.

  35. Coach pb9617 says:

    Biron lost his bargaining position more and more as the summer has gone by, obviously. It's basic economics. However, you can't just say that it's a buyer's market and compare Biron to Bulin here IMO.

    Honest question here:

    Do you understand how markets work?

  36. Steve says:

    It's really easy to say what you would or wouldn't do in any situation when you don't need to deal with the consequences. These people get paid a lot of money to do what they do,

    To a great extent you're right – it's easy to play armchair quarterback. But at the same time, what do you suggest we do in Lowetide's comments section? Sit around and talk about how glad we are that all the decisions are being made by competent professionals, and agree that even the moves that seem nonsensical to us must make sense? That sounds boring.

    Fire Tambellini!!!!

  37. speeds says:

    I'm not entirely sure what you're saying throughout this thread LT, it seems like you're all over the place but perhaps I'm misinterpreting?

    Are you saying that Tambellini truly thought Khabibulin was the best option as a goalie? That he thinks he's an OK goalie, but more importantly if things go badly, Tambellini protects himself because "who knew Khabibulin wouldn't be great? He's won a cup!!!"

    That Tambellini is behind the times, doing the best he can with his current tools, but not good enough (the Alou reference), or that he did a good job signing Khabi to his 4 year 15 mil contract?

  38. Ender says:

    Do you understand how markets work?

    I'm not an economist, but it's basic supply and demand. There was low demand for #1 goalies from the get go, but more supply than demand. Now, if LT is correct (in that at this point nobody was looking for a #1 anyway) we actually have a nonexistent demand but still a supply. So, whomever is left over needs to change markets (from #1 to #2) which affects their asking price drastically.

    @Steve: I know. The room just seems to be split into people that want to "prove" things they can't prove with the numbers they have, and people who will make an argument and trash on people because it's fun. I've done both. That said, a third alternative is people figuring out what they can actually prove with the numbers they have and building on it, rather than making wild leaps.

    But you're right. That'd be way entertaining, I'm sure. ;)

  39. dawgbone says:

    Yeah cause the best player in the game faced pittsburg in all seven games. Oh wait!

    Pathetic argument!

    Damn right it is… just as pathetic as using the post season wins that each goaltender had as the basis of who played better.

    You are ignoring the quality of the team they played for as well as the quality of the team they played against.

    To make it easier… does Philly win against Pittsburgh with Khabibulin in net?

  40. kris says:

    Let me see if I can make my argument a bit clearer. Here goes:

    P1. Goalies are gambles. If you accept Tyler's arguments, which maybe you should, Tamb. bought a more expensive lotto ticket that has less of a chance of winning.

    P2. I think it's pretty clear that short of the top 5 goalies in the league, trying to pick a good goaltender going forward is much more of a crapshoot than trying to pick, say, a first line forward. If a guy averages 70 points over 3 healthy seasons, you can make a pretty good guess what he'll get next season. You can even make a reasonably good guess about the impact of age going forward. SV% doesn't project as well, IMO and even apart from SV% it's hard to predict whether a goaltender will succeed or face plant.

    P3. Point 2 means GM's see goalies as something they can't control, as potential embarrasements, as team killers and career killers. (See the Emery saga. Gerber problems. Kiprusoff's contract, on and on. Toronto's revolving goalies, etc.) Indeed, point 2 means all GM's tend to make irrational decisions about goalies that they wouldn't and don't on other issues.

    P4. If point 1 suggests that Tamb. made a mistake on Khabi, point 3 means we shouldn't expect Tamb. to make more mistakes about other decisions going forward. Indeed, point 3 suggests you should expect most GM's, including some good ones, to make mistakes on goalies.

    Conclusion: The signing doesn't give us a reason to call for Tambellini's head. Nor should we take conclude he is a bad GM on the basis of this signing.

  41. Ender says:

    that should be way less entertaining.

  42. Coach pb9617 says:

    I'm not an economist, but it's basic supply and demand. There was low demand for #1 goalies from the get go, but more supply than demand. Now, if LT is correct (in that at this point nobody was looking for a #1 anyway) we actually have a nonexistent demand but still a supply. So, whomever is left over needs to change markets (from #1 to #2) which affects their asking price drastically..

    So you understand the demand curve, yet you still blame it on something abstract?

    Exactly one goaltender got a big contract this year. Exactly one team overpaid, not understanding markets. Every other team understood basic markets and price points.

  43. Jonathan Willis says:

    For all of you guys who think Biron works for Satan, let's switch comparables.

    Dwayne Roloson.

    Over the last three seasons, Dwayne Roloson has won 70 games (Khabibulin: 73). Dwayne Roloson has a .909 SV% (Khabibulin: .909).
    Roloson signed quickly when free agency opened (Khabibulin: quickly).

    Dwayne Roloson got two years, at 2.5 MM/yr. Khabibulin got four years, at 3.75 MM/yr.

  44. bookie says:

    Do you understand how markets work?

    Anyone who thinks the NHL resembles a free market and that players behave as commodities clearly does not know how markets work…

  45. kris says:

    Ugh, I can't seem to get my sentences right. That should read:

    "point 3 means we shouldn't take point 1 as evidence that Tamb. will make more mistakes"

  46. dawgbone says:

    An honest question for those who feel Khabibulin is a better goaltender than Biron.

    If both goaltenders played 55 games for the Oilers, how many wins would each goalie have?

    Ignore all the mind numbing statistical analysis and focus on important things like number of cup wins, your interpretation of the number of weak goals the goalie gives up, better attitude… all that important stuff.

  47. Ender says:

    So you understand the demand curve, yet you still blame it on something abstract?

    When you're talking about such a small market there's not a lot that can be said with any surety, to be honest.

    What we can say is that the market spoke first saying that Roloson is worth 2.5×2 as a #1. Khabibulin, for whatever reason, was pegged as a better bet than Roli and was taken at 3.75×4.

    Then all the holes were filled. Comparing Biron in that market doesn't make sense because once those two deals were made that particular market closed.

    You can say that Biron is better than Khabibulin. You can say that Roloson is better than Khabibulin. What you can't do is compare the dollars Biron got to the dollars that Bulin got. Two different markets. Apples and Oranges.

  48. Jonathan Willis says:

    All things being equal, I'd rather give people the benefit of the doubt that they're competent at their jobs.

    Take a look at the NHL GM field with me, for a moment. Let's only look at teams who might have been in play for a #1 goalie:

    Chicago – Dale Tallon
    Colorado – Greg Sherman
    Edmonton – Steve Tambellini
    Florida – Randy Sexton (A.G.M)
    NYI – Garth Snow
    Philadelphia – Paul Holmgren
    Phoenix – Don Maloney
    Pittsburgh – Ray Shero
    St. Louis – Larry Pleau?
    Tampa Bay – Brian Lawton

    That's ten guys. It should aslo be noted that with the exception of Tallon, Sherman, Tambellini, and Snow, none of these guys were looking for a starter (Tallon is included because of persistent rumours the team wanted to retain Khabibulin – don't include him if you prefer).

    So, of that list of four, we have:

    Dale Tallon – fired shortly after free agency
    Greg Sherman – a new hire, first summer on the job
    Steve Tambellini – a new hire, first summer on the job
    Garth Snow – signed Roloson and Biron

    That's a real who's who of talented GM's. You know what, I've completely reconsidered my opinion of Biron – if Dale Tallon, Greg Sherman (who signed the incredibly cheap Craig Anderson on day one) and Steve Tambellini didn't snatch up Martin Biron, he must not be starting material.

  49. dawgbone says:

    Kris, unlike a forward who gets a bad contract, it's really hard to extract extra value from a goaltender.

    You can always find a role for a player to contribute… it might not be ideal and it might not be great value, but you can usually find a spot for an overpaid player to at least contribute some value to winning.

    If you have a goaltender who can't live up to his contract, it's really hard to hide him and have him contribute to winning a game. You can't stick him on the soft parade playing major PP time. You can't find out if he can kill penalties… you are stuck with him in that role as a goaltender.

    As much as a bad contract can hurt you, it's even worse if that player is a goaltender.

  50. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Spot The Loon said…

    I think it is a bold move. Would I have preferred a shorter term? Sure. But if a shorter term would have meant the player signing elsewhere, I may have provided that fourth year. Negotiations are give and take and it isn't like the Bulin wall didn't have other options at that time.

    Based on what Khabibulin said after signing, the choice was between 1 year (all he had been offered) and 4 years.

    Do you think there may have been some reasonable middle ground for an astute GM available?

  51. Ender says:

    @Willis

    I'm gonna assume sarcasm there. You think Biron is better than Khabibulin. Ok. Then explain to me in a way that involves some sort of non-circumstantial evidence why he didn't get taken over Roli, Bulin, and if you want to add him Anderson.

    No "this person is an idiot," I'm talking about actual evidence.

    (If it wasn't sarcasm, disregard this)

  52. oilerdago says:

    JW: Interesting question comparing Roli & 'Bulin.

    While Roli deserved to be rewarded after the cup run, I probably fell in w/the great majority of fans concerned w/the term. That he performed like he did – especially last season – just goes to show you why I'm a fan, not a scout or GM.

    So maybe I'm wrong about Biron too and have read to many comments on different blogs and heard to many on hockey shows. That's the great thing about why they play the games.

    But even I wouldn't call him Satan. Nobody in hockey can be THAT bad! :-)

  53. Lowetide says:

    speeds:

    1. I do think Tambellini felt Khabibulin was the top available option. It's reflected in his pc when he said something like "we weren't even sure we were going to get him." Once they realized Roloson wasn't coming back, imo the lest formed at Khabibulin.

    2. It also dovetails nicely for damage control. Tambellini probably has more than one coach's lifetime and Quinn probably asked for a veteran G. Come 2011 if the team is tanking and Nik is floundering it would not be unusual for him to flush Quinn, install Renney and bring in another goaltender with one fell swoop. Quinn is probably tied to the goalie, Tambellini not so much imo.

    3. What I meant by the Alou reference is this: back when I was a kid, a bunch of guys with solid batting averages (but no punch and very few walks) would play everyday. I use Jesus Alou as an example because he played a time for Houston when they had so many OBP superstars dying in the minors it was to laugh. One season Alou had 450 at-bats and 13 walks which is pretty much impossible.

    Anyway, Alou and guys like him stayed in the lineup because they had solid batting averages and few managers were the wiser.

    I don't know for certain how NHL general managers decide on which goalie to take but it's very unlikely the Edmonton Oilers and Steve Tambellini are at the outer marker in terms of using statistical information to reach a conclusion. In fact, you could make a case that "gut feel" still has a major hold on goalie evaluation (witness JDD) in this organization.

    So, it's a perfect storm and a tell at the same time. I don't blame Tambellini or the Oilers because it:

    1. isn't obvious to me that the majority of NHL teams make these desicions differently and

    2. I'm not completely convinced of Tyler's information.

    Does that clear anything up or make it more muddy? :-) No more posting in the middle of the night!

  54. Jonathan Willis says:

    Then explain to me in a way that involves some sort of non-circumstantial evidence why he didn't get taken over Roli, Bulin, and if you want to add him Anderson.

    Because on day one, Biron was looking for a payday. Rumours out of Philly were that he was looking for a deal in the 3-5 MM range.

    Roli and Anderson were cheaper.

    As for Khabibulin, I think LT's quite right when he says that Khabibulin was on the top of the Oilers' goaltending list.

    And did you seriously just ask me (a person who believes Biron to have been the best avaiable goaltender) to explain why NHL G.M.'s focused on other goaltenders without arguing that I'm right and they were wrong?

  55. kris says:

    JW:

    I agree entirely with the point about expertise.

    Nonetheless I think you're being unfair.

    1. Tallon was an okay GM.

    2. Guys like Sherman have a staff and a set of pro-scouts. There's a lot of expertise involved there. It's not just how many years the GM has been in charge.

    Dawgbone,

    I think it meshes with my P3 that most GM's make mistakes on goalies.

    LT,

    Judicious as always. I wish more here followed your lead, not necessarily in substance, but in manner.

  56. Ender says:

    Sorry Willis, but you quoted my "assuming people can do their jobs" and effectively said that it's fine to assume that people can't do their jobs.

    And then you gave me the "proof" which I had already written in my previous post:

    Biron should have been signed immediately by one team or another if he were as good as some of you think that he is unless he was a) asking for the moon and wouldn't budge, or b) People weren't asking because they didn't want him (for whatever reason).

    So either I have no idea why the two of us are arguing, or I have no idea how this doesn't fit in with what I was already saying.

  57. Coach pb9617 says:

    Anyone who thinks the NHL resembles a free market and that players behave as commodities clearly does not know how markets work...

    Careful, that strawman is scratchy.

  58. Oilman says:

    Plus we have 3 players coming back who we have shown to be willing to dump

    If any Oilers read the blogs they now there are alot more than 3 players who the fans are willing to dump…..seriously – these guys are professional athletes and if you're insulted with being included in a trade for a top goal scorer then you may as well change your name to Jimmy Carson and get Detroit management on the phone.

  59. Jonathan Willis says:

    Ender:

    You're playing debating games. Let's look at what you requested of me:

    Then explain to me in a way that involves some sort of non-circumstantial evidence why he didn't get taken over Roli, Bulin, and if you want to add him Anderson.

    No "this person is an idiot," I'm talking about actual evidence.

    To boil that down, you asked me to:

    1) Assume that the G.M.'s were right
    2) Assuming that, to show why Biron is inferior to Roloson and Khabibulin all while knowing that:
    3) I believe Biron to be the best of the three

    That's logically impossible. My belief is that number one is a poor assumption; I don't accept your premise, I simply acknowledge that financial considerations are the only ones that match your flawed premise.

  60. quain says:

    2. I'm not completely convinced of Tyler's information.

    He said two teams were looking for starters, Edmonton and Colorado. The only team that signed a player who you'd reasonably expect to be a starter now is the Islanders. He may not have predicted that a few of the guys would sign as backups immediately, but I don't see how he didn't call this almost exactly bang on.

    Just remember, if the Oilers don't sign Khabibulin right off the bat there are two starters sitting on the market five hours ago. You only need one guy without a job to squeeze him, if Tyler was GMing the Oilers, there'd be two.

  61. Coach pb9617 says:

    What you can't do is compare the dollars Biron got to the dollars that Bulin got. Two different markets. Apples and Oranges.

    Man – you say things to create arguments and misunderstandings. I'm convinced of that.

    Without looking, who in this thread has said that the Oilers could have signed Biron for 1 year $1.4 million?

  62. Oilman says:

    I think it's a pretty common misconception Coach that player x could have been had for y dollars because he signed with a different team for said y dollars. It doesn't fly. Check some of the Havlat comments.

  63. SK Oiler Fan says:

    "If people want to advocate that we should have waited 3 weeks and shop in the bargain bin for our goaltending solution, then just imagine a perfectly plausible scenario where on july 1 habby resigns with chi, biron signs with avs, roloson to isles, clemmsonson to florida, and anderson to where ever (van? BJs?), while Tambo is sitting there apparently doing nothing."

    Oil Dude, you nailed it right there. A gold star for you.

    and yes, LT Biron's agent should be fired. There is nothing wrong with Biron, he is quality. Him and Khabby were the best available and Biron signed the worst deal I can remember for a goalie of his calibre.

  64. Ender says:

    To boil that down, you asked me to:

    1) Assume that the G.M.'s were right
    2) Assuming that, to show why Biron is inferior to Roloson and Khabibulin all while knowing that:
    3) I believe Biron to be the best of the three

    That's logically impossible. My belief is that number one is a poor assumption; I don't accept your premise, I simply acknowledge that financial considerations are the only ones that match your flawed premise.

    Sorry, I should have rephrased that. You're right. The reason I worded it that way is that you cannot prove #1 one way or the other. If you believe the opposite, then I call that premise just as flawed.

    I don't think #2 and #3 follow though. I wasn't saying to show that he was inferior against your opinions. What I was saying was that if he *is* better, then why would someone wait?

    You can't prove that people are stupid or super-intelligent because you don't know why they made their decisions. So, you can assume they know what they're doing and figure there must be some character issue with Biron OR, you can assume they're idiots.

    Thing is, you only have evidence that people *wanted* Bulin and none that people *wanted* Biron, so no matter what your opinion is, you can't assert it as true with any certainty.

  65. Ender says:

    Without looking, who in this thread has said that the Oilers could have signed Biron for 1 year $1.4 million?

    Nobody. However, people are saying this deal makes the Bulin deal look even worse, and it really shouldn't change the optics at all.

    At this point I'm not even saying Bulin is better. Just that all of the furor after the Biron deal holds _no_ water.

  66. Tyler says:

    just imagine a perfectly plausible scenario where on july 1 habby resigns with chi, biron signs with avs, roloson to isles, clemmsonson to florida, and anderson to where ever (van? BJs?), while Tambo is sitting there apparently doing nothing."

    So just imagine a perfectly plausible scenario in which one capped out team (CHI) spends a bunch of money they don't have to spend on a starting goalie when they've got a pile tied up in Huet and Anderson signs with either a team where the backup plays ten games or a team where there's a clear number one already. Yeah, that seems perfectly plausible.

  67. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    SK Oiler Fan said…

    Oil Dude, you nailed it right there. A gold star for you.

    and yes, LT Biron's agent should be fired. There is nothing wrong with Biron, he is quality. Him and Khabby were the best available and Biron signed the worst deal I can remember for a goalie of his calibre.

    Oh nonsense. There have been 21 days pass since July 1st and today.

    The Oilers could have been dealing with both Biron and Khabibulin and wrested the best long term deal from one of them.

    They panicked, as usual.

  68. Jonathan Willis says:

    Ender: Basically, my assumption is that NHL managers are fallible, and as a whole, not very educated about economics.

    I think that recent history makes both of those assumptions look accurate.

    Goaltenders in particular are a quagmire for NHL teams.

    Let's look at Paul Holmgren, as one example. He's signed Ray Emery over Martin Biron – signalling that he thinks Biron isn't good enough to get the Flyers over the hump. Yet, he both traded for and signed Biron; in other words, either he was wrong then or he is wrong now. Either way, his judgement on goaltenders is fair to question, as is the judgement of the Flyers organization.

    Let's look at Dale Tallon. The Blackhawks (mistakenly) signed Nik Khabibulin to a contract four years ago. His play was so poor that last summer Huet was brought in to start and Khabibulin was waived to make room. By the end of the season, Khabibulin was the team's designated starter. Thus, it's fair to question Tallon, and the Blackhawks organization.

    Let's look at Greg Sherman. Sherman doesn't have much of a track record, but his boss (Pierre Lacroix) does. Since Patrick Roy's retirement, Lacroix has tried Jose Theodore, Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft as starters. Each of these choices was obviously flawed and criticized on the blogs. Thus we should question the goaltending selection process of the Colorado Avalanche organization.

    Garth Snow, as mentioned before, signed both Biron and Roloson.

    That leaves Steve Tambellini. And it isn't at all unfair to question the Edmonton Oilers' decision making over the past few seasons.

    Now that I've explained why I believe none of the organizations looking for starters are reliable judges of goaltending talent, would you care to present a counter-argument?

  69. kris says:

    Quain:

    Not sure, but I don't think LT was questioning the 'buyers market' premise. Rather he was raising doubts about the best way to evaluate goalies and/or the Holland idea that you get a Luongo or whoever's minimally qualified and dirt cheap.

    I think so anyway.
    C

  70. Coach pb9617 says:

    I think it's a pretty common misconception Coach that player x could have been had for y dollars because he signed with a different team for said y dollars. It doesn't fly. Check some of the Havlat comments.

    It might be a common misconception but who in this thread has said that?

  71. Jonathan Willis says:

    If we assume that the people who are getting paid the big bucks are at all competent at their jobs.

    Well we're at it, that isn't just a faulty assumption in this specific case, but it's a fallacy in general (appeal to authority).

    Look at the financial situation in the United States. The people at the heads of the vast majority of the big companies that have collapsed or been hit hard were paid big bucks, and for the most part everyone assumed that they were competent. There's plenty of examples, but assuming that someone is an expert just because they're paid for their judgement is never a good idea in a general sense.

  72. Ender says:

    Now that I've explained why I believe none of the organizations looking for starters are reliable judges of goaltending talent, would you care to present a counter-argument?

    No, I don't really have one. I do have an argument for why I don't think our opinions matter though.

    I just don't see that it amounts to more than circumstantial evidence in any specific case. Nobody is infallible. Not even you. Maybe your numbers are right. Maybe their intel is right. We can't say for certain until it's hindsight. Basically, I don't think you, or I, or Vic, or Tyler have enough numbers to say anything of any certainty, and as such I personally can't assume that I'm smarter than someone who is paid millions to do their job. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not, but I'm sure I'd make just as many mistakes, though likely different ones.

    But at the end of the day, there's as much firm evidence that Biron is a greedy jackass who sleeps with teammates wives as there is that Tambo doesn't know how to scout goalies. None.

  73. Coach pb9617 says:

    Nobody. However, people are saying this deal makes the Bulin deal look even worse, and it really shouldn't change the optics at all.

    You're wrong. There's no other way to say it. You understand how demand moves prices. You've read all the arguments here and still hold this viewpoint. You're just wrong.

    At this point I'm not even saying Bulin is better. Just that all of the furor after the Biron deal holds _no_ water.

    Look. Furor. At the time of the signing.

    Biron's deal just allows the furious, who have been furious for 21 days, to say "I told you so". Because they were furious well before the Biron signing.

  74. SK Oiler Fan says:

    "I don't know for certain how NHL general managers decide on which goalie to take but it's very unlikely the Edmonton Oilers and Steve Tambellini are at the outer marker in terms of using statistical information to reach a conclusion. In fact, you could make a case that "gut feel" still has a major hold on goalie evaluation (witness JDD) in this organization."

    Very interesting statement LT. It appears to me that most NHL GMs go with their gut feel for alot of player aquisitions. Obviously they're looking at the counting numbers, but do you ever hear a GM or coach for that matter quote an advanced stat like PPPts/60 or zone start %?

    Using D Sutter as an example is likely a bad example, but I believe it was after the 07/08 season when a reporter asked Sutter about Kipper's declining save%. His mumbled response was: he had 39 wins, he's a pretty good goalie. He failed to mention he started 76 games to aquire those wins. Hardly a world beating winning %.

  75. Ender says:

    Oh, and re: appeal to authority, you're absolutely right. However, I'm willing to trust in someone who's getting paid a lot to do something when I have no other evidence to work from.

  76. Ender says:

    Biron's deal just allows the furious, who have been furious for 21 days, to say "I told you so". Because they were furious well before the Biron signing.

    Right, but what are they saying "i told you so" to? That someone signed him? I'm pretty sure it's related to the optics.

  77. Coach pb9617 says:

    Right, but what are they saying "i told you so" to? That someone signed him? I'm pretty sure it's related to the optics.

    So you are really being a contrarian just to be a contrarian. It only took 280 comments to establish that. Like mc before me, I'm over and out.

  78. Ender says:

    So you are really being a contrarian just to be a contrarian. It only took 280 comments to establish that. Like mc before me, I'm over and out.

    o…k…

    I personally don't think the Bulin deal is a bad one. But since few seem to be giving it a chance based on the fact that we might theoretically have gotten Biron who might theoretically be better for less, I figured I'd phrase it differently in that you can't compare Biron's deal to Bulin's. I threw in that we have no idea why Biron wasn't signed, so whether or not he was better/faster/cheaper, we'll never know.

    Those are arguments against the comparison that you cannot argue against. Once you can't argue against those, anything that you say about one being better than the other becomes effectively meaningless and we're left with Bulin got signed, and he got signed for a reason none of us know. Hence, Bulin was likely the best guy for this particular job for reasons we'll never know.

    That's being contrary for the sake of being contrary?

    And on that, I'm out for the night.

  79. Jonathan Willis says:

    I just don't see that it amounts to more than circumstantial evidence in any specific case.

    Looking at the evidence just presented, you see no reason to doubt the assumption that these four men know what they're doing? Despite considerable track records that show they don't, in fact, know what they're doing? As you've been saying lately YMMV.

    Nobody is infallible. Not even you.

    No kidding. But I don't see any reason to trust an NHL GM's fallible judgement over my fallible judgement when virtually every statistic over the past four years lines up in my favour.

    There's a pretty obvious case to be made that, on the whole, Martin Biron has been a better goaltender over the past four years than Nikolai Khabibulin. Given their ages, there's no reason to expect that to change.

    Your choice to ignore that in favour of faith in a group of men who have shown a remarkable lack of ability in this department among their own peer group is your choice to make. That said, it's an argument that basically (as I understand it, correct me if I'm wrong) boils down to this:

    "Fan analysis of hockey moves is essentially pointless since the men making the decisions have more information than the fans do, and they're being paid to make that decision."

    Again, correct me if I'm wrong on that – but if that is in fact the case, than there really isn't much point to debating any move, ever, with you since your opinion on any move is a fixed value rather than variable: you will always agree with the collective action of NHL GM's.

    Am I misrepresenting you here?

  80. SK Oiler Fan says:

    Fake MacT,
    I don't want to seem like a Tambo apologist, but whose to say Tambo didn't ask Biron what he thought of Edmonton and his response was: meh.

    So Tambo moved on to another quality starter in Khabby. Biron has played his entire career in the Eastern Conference afterall. It seems alot of Eastern Conference players are not to keen on the travel in the Western Conf.

    Biron's agent F'ed up big time. Nobody could have predicted 1.4M for one of the better UFA tenders avaialble.

  81. Jonathan Willis says:

    I threw in that we have no idea why Biron wasn't signed, so whether or not he was better/faster/cheaper, we'll never know.

    Actually, we'll have a good idea of whether Biron was better at the end of next season. We'll certainly know four years from now.

    Much like how we now know the Oilers were wrong not to add bottom-six checkers last summer to replace the guys they sent away.

  82. Coach pb9617 says:

    By the way – Lord Bob might not be able to blog regularly, but his outstanding twitter entries more than make up for it.

  83. dawgbone says:

    SK Oiler fan… even if that's true, who says he has that same tune when no one else calls?

    And I assume Khabibulin felt similarily until the Oilers threw him a contract 4 times the length and for significantly more money than the next closest team.

    Khabibulin didn't even try and press the Oilers… his agent knew there wasn't going to ever be a better deal than that.

  84. SK Oiler Fan says:

    I actually admire Garth Snow on this one. He recognized a steal of a deal even though he wasn't in the market for a goalie.

    It's like when you're at an auction sale and an item that you have no use for is going for peanuts. You buy it, give it some TLC and sell it for a profit.

    I'm betting Biron gets moved at the deadline for a decent return. Snow may have just bought a late first rounder for around 1M.

    As for Biron, he takes a pay cut, but gets moved to a contender at the deadline where he can play his ass off in the playoffs and get a nice raise next year.

  85. SK Oiler Fan says:

    dawg,
    We're both making some assumptions here that may be totally wrong.

    We really have no idea how these negotiations play out.

    Some players will take pay cuts to go to their desired geographic area. This is more than a pay cut though this is a demotion from CEO to janitor

  86. Ender says:

    Am I misrepresenting you here?

    Yes. Damn that one last refresh. I promise I'll actually leave for tonight after this.

    I'm saying that you have right to doubt, just as I have the right to doubt your stats (for example, Bulin's ESV% vs Biron's ESV%).

    I don't mindlessly believe the management. I have my own opinions. That said, it seems suspicious to me that Biron would wait so long to sign if he were the best bet. It happens, but it's suspicious. Maybe he didn't pull his value down fast enough. Maybe people just didn't care. Maybe he really is a better goalie going forwards than Bulin.

    However, you have to at least allow for the possibility that management knows something that you don't.

    Look, I stopped arguing in favour of Khabibulin because people kept trotting out SV% and "disagreeing" with ESV%. That discussion's going nowhere. But it's pretty easy to argue that Biron either was not the best person for this team and/or every other team who could've potentially signed him knew something that we did not.

    When people start talking about how we *really* got ripped off after Bulin got signed, I felt the need to point out that that number translation meant nothing outside of "look! somebody signed him!"

    In short, I can't prove Bulin is the better goalie. I can say that he's had better ESV%, but you disagree with that measure. I can't say Biron is better because I don't think SV% is a decent indicator.

    So what's left? Bulin got signed at what seems to have been market value for an experienced #1 (which had 2 people sign) for good or ill. Biron got signed as a #2 (or 3) at #2 dollars.

    Debating whether it shouldn't have gone down this way is meaningless.

    I mean, if I don't agree with your stats, and you don't agree with my stats, we really have to assume that either we know more than Professional X or we don't. Me? I generally go with the professional opinion. It could be wrong. It could be right. But since the conversation is dead and we've resorted to drum beating anyway, aren't we better off knowing which hills we're dying on?

    (oh and I meant we'll never know until hindsight kicks in, JSYK).

  87. Oilman says:

    Bud Light Lime sucks when compared to Big Rock lime. Not even close, really.

    Had Bud Light Lime in California back last September and loved it. Bought a case a few weeks ago here in Edmonton and have 9 left in the fridge…it tastes horribly different.

  88. Jonathan Willis says:

    Ender: I actually like even-strength save percentage, for the record.

  89. bookie says:

    YOu guys are still talking about this. It was a nice day outside – go get some sun!

  90. oil dude says:

    Oh nonsense. There have been 21 days pass since July 1st and today.

    The Oilers could have been dealing with both Biron and Khabibulin and wrested the best long term deal from one of them.

    Easy to say this after it's July 22nd…

    Oh and if someone can tell me that they knew this scenario would NOT play out before july 1st then I need next weeks winning lottery numbers too.

  91. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Easy to say this after it's July 22nd…

    Oh and if someone can tell me that they knew this scenario would NOT play out before july 1st then I need next weeks winning lottery numbers too.

    You remind me of the guy who buys the first car he sees on the lot because the salesman tells him it's the only red one they have.

    Don't go shopping without a legal guardian.

  92. speeds says:

    Ender wrote:

    Then all the holes were filled. Comparing Biron in that market doesn't make sense because once those two deals were made that particular market closed.

    It's true that the once the Oilers signed Khabi there was no other team actively looking for a starter. The argument is that the Oilers should have known that, taken their time talking to both Biron and Khabibulin at that point, playing them against each other to see who they can sign at the most favorable teams since EDM and both players would know that EDM is the only remaining NHL team looking for a starter.

  93. mc79hockey says:

    Can we agree that the metric you're using is not a universally acknowledged tool? By that I mean your information (on your site) is probably ahead of the curve and will take some time to become trusted information.

    Yeah, I'm fine with that LT. At the same time, I'd be willing to bet that I've beat the curve when it comes to goalie signings over the past four years. If I were to go back and go through my site – and I'm intrigued enough by Ender's reliance on professionals that I might do that and drag in some shit about the expert problem – I'd find a ton of instances where I've done pretty well at picking out the bad signings, when they've happened. I've shown a pretty good ability to read when the market is going to spit some poor bastard out on a cheap contract. I'm not saying this to brag – I don't think it's that hard to do.

    It is not, I don't think, unreasonable of me to expect that the team I cheer for, which devotes financial resources and expertise to this, to be better at it than I am. Whether they are is, to a certain extent, unknowable – even if one of us ends up with the better outcome, it's the process that matters.

    I seem to be getting a reputation around here for bashing the team for everything it does, which I don't think is fair – there are goalie moves I've praised, like Garon. I find it amazing that people are arguing a) the Oilers don't know shit about goaltending and, in the next breath, b) they should therefore do whatever they think is safest. Should the Costanza rule not apply here? Maybe they should just do the opposite of what their instincts tell them.

    Having said that, I don't think Steve Tambellini's measurement of success for goaltending is similar to the one you are using. It's OBP in a world of boxcars.

    Yeah, I agree with that. Like I've said previously, I agree that they are better at telling the subtle differences between players. They've got all the experience. It is a mammoth leap, no matter how you cut it, from that to assuming that they know how to value these things properly, read the market and negotiate.

    Leaving aside the valuation, I (and hundreds of thousands of other people) negotiate every day with people who are at least as sophisticated as the people Tambo negotiates with. I have to read the pressures that those people are under and what the market is for what I'm buying, which is usually a release from a piece of litigation. It's a different kind of market. I don't know why there's any assumed expertise on Tambo's part at reading markets and negotiating at all. We know that he has no education in the area to speak of. All we have to go on are his results. So far, he's handed out the massive outlier of a contract.

  94. mc79hockey says:

    It's a different kind of market but the principles are exactly the same. Exactly.

  95. PunjabiOil says:

    So what's this Heatley Business I'm hearing? Apparently from HF, updates from Soli:

    "Dany would certainly consider playing for the Edmonton Oilers"

    "Dany wants to play for a contender"

    - Paul Kelly

    Tencer says…

    "The Edmonton offer is still an option."

    "Internal thought to get Pouliot back to his natural position"

    Stauffer says..

    "Oilers mind as well stay in it to the end, [Heatley] is a unique talent"

    "We are to believe Ottawa leaked the names"

    "Tom Kostopolous was a player we were interested in"

    "Smid NEEDS TO SIMPLIFY HIS GAME"

    "Wyatt Smith and Eric Boguniecki (sp) as possible AHL signings"

    Both said Coglaino does not want to leave. 100% scared of leaving. Smid would like to get the opportunity to play Top 4 minutes and would like the Heatley trade to go through.

    "ROBBIE SCHREMP REQUESTED A TRADE"

    They tried to trade him at the draft for a 2nd, targetted NYI, we know how that went.

  96. gogliano says:

    I think the most interesting item there, though the evidence was mounting, is that they are trying to get Pouliot to his natural position to see what they have. I don't think it is a bad idea, but hope that does not preclude bringing in another center and moving Cogliano to the wing.

  97. Lowetide says:

    MC: Most of the people in the world who see things others don't are viewed as freaks and heretics. Get used to it. :-)

    Here are the things that come to mind as being "leaps of faith" that are somewhat difficult to overcome.

    1. Recently, you said "Goalies don’t do keep playing very far beyond the age of 36, which was Khabibulin’s age by hockey-reference.com’s calculation. 28 goalies in NHL history have played at least 35 games at the age of 36. 18 goalies in NHL history have played at least 35 games at the age of 37. 10 goalies in NHL history have played at least 35 games at the age of 38. 8 goalies in NHL history have played at least 35 games at the age of 39. 4 goalies in NHL history have played at least 35 games at the age of 40. There is a tremendous rate of attrition just in terms of games played and that’s before you even get anywhere close to asking questions about the level of play which, for Khabibulin, has been exceedingly high once in the past six years."

    -How is this trending? Have these seasons you speak have been more or less prevelant recently? Would this be an argument for or against trusting the Khabibulin signing? Is he in good condition? Do goes who are in good physical condition last longer? Does an underused goalie like Dwayne Roloson or Tim Thomas have a better chance of being effective than a Khabibulin? What about size? Is this a factor?

    2. You also said "Outside of 42 games in 2008-09, Khabibulin has not been a great goalie since 2001-02. Since then, he’s finished 18th, 27th, 43rd, 30th, 25th and 6th in save percentage."

    -Do goaltenders often falter at predictable levels as they age? Would Daniel Bouchard (as an example) be a player who would comp well to Khabibulin until age 35? Would this mean that Bouchard's career ending at that time is a tell for Khabibulin, or would it suggest that conditioning, travel, etc in the more modern era might mean the player has a better chance to stay at the same level? How often do goalies improve their SP after age 33? 35? Are these trends changing in recent seasons? Have conditioning, equipment and improvements in technique allowed goalies to adapt and stay around longer?

    Finally, I'd love to see the post you're talking about above, it's my belief it could sway opinion. Having said that, I do believe it's going to be a disappointing few simmers for you because the Oilers imo don't think in these terms and are unlikely to mirror the top choices your system produces.

    The Oilers are, in this case, pakleds. Maybe if you let them steal it from you. :-)

  98. PunjabiOil says:

    This makes me happy:

    http://www.630ched.com/Channels/Reg/LocalSports/Story.aspx?ID=1118007

    Despite those sentiments, Paul Kelly says Dany Heatley isn't ruling anything out. "I know that Dany doesn't harbour any ill will towards Edmonton and, in fact, would seriously consider playing for the Edmonton Oilers," relayed Kelly.

  99. Ender says:

    @MC:

    I think I've said this a few times, but I don't exclusively side with management. If you had asked me before Bulin got signed, I would have agreed that Biron was the better bet.

    I just don't think that Bulin is a bad bet.

    And once the paperwork has gone through, and Bulin gets signed on day 1 while Biron gets signed this late in the game, I think it's fair to ask if there was a reason outside of the GM being stupid. And I don't think that it's fair to assume you could get Biron at the price the isles got him at. It's 100% retrospective, and you can't really say anything about it.

    I'm not saying Biron is bad. I'm not even saying that he might not have been the better bet. I'm saying that Bulin isn't a bad bet, and given the fact that Biron signed so late that a)it's reasonable to wonder why and b)is there any point to pounding this particular drum for weeks before the season even starts?

    I guess all I've really been saying is that I don't think Bulin is a bad bet, and I can't for the life of me figure out why you can't pound this particular drum after we've seen them actually play for their new teams.

    Besides, given the 2-3 team market for a #1, I'm not sure that you can call Bulin's contract an outlier unless you're arguing that he's not a #1, in which case we have a different argument altogether.

  100. Lord Bob says:

    This Heatley story refuses to die, like a play when Ales Hemsky has the puck.

  101. DanMan says:

    LT: What's the record for most posts on a thread?

    I remember one on July 1 (I say one because there were probably around 5 a day that week, LT you prolific MFer) that ran around 500.

  102. Lord Bob says:

    I think the LT comment thread on Ryan Smyth Trade Day makes up 43% of today's Internet, it was so huge.

  103. bookie says:

    LT: What's the record for most posts on a thread?

    I remember one on July 1 (I say one because there were probably around 5 a day that week, LT you prolific MFer) that ran around 500.

    There are quite a few GDTs that go well over 600, but this is high for a summer one. It used to be that al you had to do was mention Shremp and you could hit 400, but that is starting to fade.

  104. DanMan says:

    Robbie Schremp had the best p/60 min on the team last year…discuss

  105. DanMan says:

    I'm sure LT will have a dynamic post tomorrow, so if we're gonna get to 400, you guys gotta take this bait now.

  106. hunter1909 says:

    "While Roli deserved to be rewarded after the cup run"

    This in ten words describes the Edmonton Oilers "we want to suck forever" mentality.

    A great team ruthlessly dumps players almost before they start to decline. Oilers hand out "thank you" contracts to Moreau, Staios, etc etc and St. Pisani.

    Gee Batman, why are the Oilers in cap trouble?

  107. NBOilerFan says:

    Damnit LT, I sure wish you had posted this thread next week when I am on vacation and have to time read all this good discussions, instead of teh week before my vacation where I am just to damn busy trying to get my desk cleared off.

    I plan on getting back to this thread, but it will be buried on page 2 by then without a second thought or visit by anyone.

    Ahh well… this is why we all love this site so much. Some very good banter and discussion.

    Everyone is wrong but me of course.
    :D

  108. Big Dan says:

    Jonathan, you are high on Biron and I respect your opinion.

    Forget the stats. This guy couldn't get it done in Philly or in Buffalo.

    In Philly, he barely outplayed Niitymaki his first year and fortunately got hot right at the end of the season.

    He made them sweat all year long this year too. He just flat out isn't that good.

    He's another Stephane Fiset. Ok but that's it. Like Fiset, he's played a lot of games before teams figured out he wasn't good enough.

    Now he's way better than some of the weird names mentioned on this entertaining thread (Halak and Harding are unproven, Labarbera is a total sieve- ask any LA fan how he blew his chance there).

    Khabibulin is a better goalie and his salary compared to other goalies signed before (Turco, Kiprusoff, Ward, Giguere) is reasonable.

    I understand Tambo's logic. Khabibulin was by far the best goalie available. He wanted to make him an offer he couldn't refuse.

    You didn't agree with my "winner" comment. But I saw during the Chicago playoff run that he gave that team a sense of calm.

    They knew they could go for it offensively because he is cool and steady on the back end.

    Biron does not give a team that sense of confidence, despite his many years of experience.

    Just my opinion.

  109. Doogie2K says:

    Biron may actually be the better goalie and we could have had him for ridiculously less money.

    To this and every other "woulda coulda statement…": Objection, assumes facts not in evidence. There's no fucking way to know if anyone would've signed here for comparable dollars (or even "reasonable dollars") on July 1 or at any other time. Certainly, recent experience suggests the answer is no.

    But I guess you need to say something once the "well maybe he wants too much money/he won't sign in Edmonton" arguments are revealed to be farcical.

    Show me where that was proven, because I have seen nothing to support such a statement in this thread, even 150 posts after you said this, nor on C&B, nor on Mirtle's or Puck Daddy, nor in the MSM. It is not implausible in the slightest that he was asking for too much, no one signed him in the initial flurry, then all the slots were filled and he missed his payday and had to settle for bread crumbs. This is not something that has never happened before. It is also not implausible in the slightest that he was not interested in the Oilers at or near market value (and maybe even at all) due to post-'06 record/management/the weather/the travel/whatever. This is also not something that has never happened before, or are we forgetting Michael Nylander already?

    I think the reason goalies are having longer careers are obvious, so that when we say things like it's extremely rare for a goalie to be effective after 35 we might be witnessing a point in time when that number is going to increase.

    I agree, and this is something that should be emphasized more. Conditioning and rehab are much better in the last ten years than they've been at any point in NHL history. If Bobby Orr had started in 1986 instead of 1966, he'd have played until he was 40.

    If Khabi plays his best as part of a strong tandem then it's not hard to see trouble brewing. Maybe we should have signed Biron to be a strong #2. :)

    He didn't have strong backups in Winnipeg-Phoenix or Tampa. Look at his career stats. Other than 1999-2001, when he played two NHL games (I admit, I'm curious why), he's only played two years with fewer than 50 games: his first and his most recent. He's been The Guy his entire career. Hell, a cursory glance at some of his past squads strongly suggests that Huet is the best backup he's ever had, and even at that, I wonder if he'd have played as many games as he did if he didn't have a contract as big as Khabi's taking up space on the bench.

    They don't hand out the Stanley Cup to the goaltender with the best save percentage, they hand it out to the goaltender with the most wins.

    Steve has a good (and obvious) counterargument to this right below it, but at the same time, I personally think that comparing one goalie's SV% to another's without contextualizing them is just as worthless as comparing any other set of stats without context. (Remember Coach's post on Corsi with the Tom Clancy reference from the other day?) Just because no one's firmly established what an acceptable contextualization would be (I would think, or they'd have said something by now), doesn't mean that there can't or needn't be any. Apparently I'm alone in this thought.

    Without looking, who in this thread has said that the Oilers could have signed Biron for 1 year $1.4 million?

    It may not have been explicitly stated, but it was strongly implied a few times (check out the first thing I quoted here). Besides, Ender's not saying that people were claiming this, but that people were comparing the deals with the benefit of hindsight and while ignoring the fact that the signings came in two different contexts, which…yup, I see a bunch of that.

  110. R O says:

    Jonathan, you are high on Biron and I respect your opinion.

    Forget the stats. This guy couldn't get it done in Philly or in Buffalo.

    In Philly, he barely outplayed Niitymaki his first year and fortunately got hot right at the end of the season.

    He made them sweat all year long this year too. He just flat out isn't that good.

    He's another Stephane Fiset. Ok but that's it. Like Fiset, he's played a lot of games before teams figured out he wasn't good enough.

    Now he's way better than some of the weird names mentioned on this entertaining thread (Halak and Harding are unproven, Labarbera is a total sieve- ask any LA fan how he blew his chance there).

    Khabibulin is a better goalie and his salary compared to other goalies signed before (Turco, Kiprusoff, Ward, Giguere) is reasonable.

    I understand Tambo's logic. Khabibulin was by far the best goalie available. He wanted to make him an offer he couldn't refuse.

    You didn't agree with my "winner" comment. But I saw during the Chicago playoff run that he gave that team a sense of calm.

    They knew they could go for it offensively because he is cool and steady on the back end.

    Biron does not give a team that sense of confidence, despite his many years of experience.

    Just my opinion.

    Those pesky statistics strongly suggest that Biron stops a higher percentage of pucks than Khabibulin. But forget that, it's all about giving your team confidence.

    I admire your extra-sensory perception. You are able to tell that Khabibulin inspired confidence in the Hawks, while Biron did not in the Flyers. The rest of us earthly plebs are handicapped by the inability to read people's minds, and will have to stick with lesser tools like SV%.

  111. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    TRUST

    … was visibly lacking last year.

    Lowe gave us another unbalanced line-up with a hole so crucial it topped the previous 'goaltending' and 'puck-moving-D' shortfalls, imho. Not replacing the two guys MacTavish threw to the wolves (buying the wunderkinds their space) with at least one predictable/veteran centre, was a tell that the main focus of the year was to teach the kids… and… it was to be MacT's last, even if he made the playoffs.

    MacTavish didn't trust his Stoll and Reasoner replacements; the team's captain didn't trust his young linemates; and after seven (minus one) years – ymmv – of 'not enough horses to take the leap out of mediocrity', and the most recent year of bat**** crazy, intense, teaching (one learns more from mistakes than successes) the team didn't trust its coach.

    Many of you seem to find humour in ridiculing a good coach who had a rough year… or perhaps you've held onto your preconceived opinions that MacT has always been a hack; his firing was a justice long overdue; and you'll beat your 'I was right all along' drum for the rest of your days. meh… Whatever floats your boat. You'll be wrong about other things, too.

    MacTavish is a good man with a few flaws and regrets. We all have flaws and regrets. But, the one time he was given the tools he needed, he was a brilliant difference maker who out-coached some exceptional coaches, and damm near got his team to overcome losing their #1 goalie/Conn Smythe contender. I, for one, will miss him and wish him well. And… if he ever lands on his feet with a well balanced team, I will cheer for him against all but the Oilers.

    TRUST

    … is something Tambellini believes he bought in Nikolai Khabibulin. Whether we think it matters or not, men steeped in NHL experience will always trust players they believe capable of elevating their games under pressure (playoffs/WCs/Olympics) more than those who haven't yet proven their 'forged in fire' abilities.

    Lain is 100% right about NK being the only target. What good are big guns, Quinn and Renney, if their ammunition is the wrong caliber? Of all the available goaltenders, Khabibulin was their first choice. So… in keeping with a longtime franchise tradition/flaw (just ask Dennis)… they overpaid in dollars and term for the goalie they wanted.

    Will it prove to be a good move? Like most of you, I have my doubts. That said, who knows for certain? Goalies are voodoo!

    Alice: Well there's Khabibulin, and there's his contract. Those are really Two topics, and complaining that Lowe and Tambo probably WERE negotiating against each other, which is the main complaint here, isn't a knock on the man.

    Lowe: I just got off the phone with Khabi's agent,
    Steve: Yeah, me too.
    Lowe: He had some pup on the other line offering 10/3,
    Steve: Well, actually…
    Lowe: I just blew that fucker out of the water – what was that?
    Steve: Umm, Right-o, skipper!!

    This is pure gold, Alice.

    L8r
    Louise

  112. Big Dan says:

    R O…

    Too funny.

    I don't agree with relying on stats. That's where I'm a little different from Lowetide.

    I watch the games. I have for 30 years and I usually have a pretty good read, especially on goalies (who are always my favorites).

    There were trade rumors at the deadline that the Flyers were considering an acquisition of a #1 goalie because of Biron's crappy season.

    But they hung in there because the price was too high and/or Biron picked it up late last season and they hoped he would do it again.

    Biron is in that ugly range of goalies where he's too good to be a backup but not good enough to be a #1 guy if you plan on actually winning something.

    Personally, Bulin's age and injury history scare me. But for this year, I feel much more comfortable with him. RIGHT NOW, he's a much better goalie.

    He was Winnipeg's franchise early in his career. And he was awesome in that Tampa run.

    Biron was NO track record. Never was he the guy a hockey team built itself around.

    He backed up Hasek and then was dumped by Buffalo two years after Hasek left b/c he frankly isn't that good.

    He didn't last long in Philly for the same reason. I think Garon and Roloson are both better than Biron.

  113. Big Dan says:

    Oh BTW, R O… you don't have to possess telepathic powers to sense a team's confidence in their goalie.

    Think back to 2004. Oilers get hot in January after Salo gets hurt.

    But he comes back and they win a few games in spite of him. They play tentative. There's five guys diving to block shots. I'll never forget this one Phoenix game… they're clinging to a 4-3 lead and he is just laying there for 30 seconds while the whole team is scrambling.

    He gets dealt and the Oilers totally seem like a different team. They're more loose, more confident. Under Conklin & Markkanen, they play their style and lose like once in 20 or so games.

    (It's too bad Conklin got fat during the lockout and spent a year totally sucking while he struggled through through pulled groins and then lost us the Cup.)

    Just think how different Edmonton played when a Ranford was in goal versus a Joacquin Gage (ugh).

  114. Lowetide says:

    Louise: You are wise. :-)

  115. Ender says:

    Oh BTW, R O… you don't have to possess telepathic powers to sense a team's confidence in their goalie.

    Game 2 SCF 2006.

    If the team trusts Markannen, we at least make a good showing, if not win that game.

  116. IceDragoon says:

    Lain…

    If you pay attention along the journey, wisdom is one of life's rewards for reaching old age.

    So is forgetfulness. I think a younger me would have remembered to place a few smilie type thingies… up there… somewhere… or something…

    Please excuse me while I go yell and shake my cane at the kids on my lawn; have my daily prune juice; and then hunt down my missing glasses. Thank goodness for mirrors.
    ;-)

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