As we wait for Craig MacTavish to find a goaltender (and he will), this is a period where the Oilers may be well served in giving Jason LaBarbera a long look as the starter. I think it’s a good idea for two reasons:
- Giving LaBarbera several starts in a row will give the veteran a chance to prove he can handle a bigger workload. He worked in 15 of 48 games a year ago, which is 31% (or 25 games in a full season). I’d give him the start in Washington and Pittsburgh.
- Giving Dubnyk time to right the ship. I’m not smart enough to know what the problem is with DD, but this isn’t the same guy. New equipment, new baby, you might laugh but NHL history is full of stories about goaltenders and the things that drive them to distraction (Jacques Plante: air conditioning).
If I’m MacT this is a time to say the right things about Dubnyk, find out how far you can stretch LaBarbera, and work the phones in an effort to acquire a third goaltender (that’s right, a third goaltender) who may end up being the Oilers goalie for the playoff runs 2014-2025. I’d also call up Richard Bachman after tonight’s Barons game and have him in Washington tomorrow night. Give Dubnyk some nights in the gondola to re-set.
POSSIBLE GOALIE ACQUISITIONS
- Ryan Miller, Buffalo. He’s going to cost you a pile of assets. A guess would be things start with a healthy Sam Gagner and one assumes the Oilers first rounder might be in play. He’s UFA right away, this cannot be an attractive option for MacTavish.
- Ilya Bryzgalov, UFA. Attractive that he’s a free agent and would cost only money, but there’s a pile of baggage attached and it isn’t clear he’s a better option than a head-on-straight Dubnyk. I’d keep that one in my back pocket for now.
- Ferderik Andersen, Norfolk. I have no idea if Anaheim would move him, but if the Oilers want to take a chance on a young goalie with a solid to excellent resume, this would be a nice option.
WHY HAVE YOU TURNED ON DUBNYK?
I’m a Dubnyk fan, have been since his junior days when he played on a horrible WHL team (DD has never been on a good hockey club since he was drafted–since 2001, he has played in 10 playoff games. Incredible). The Edmonton Oilers need Devan Dubnyk to be better. Starting now. And they cannot afford to give him any more major league at-bats to find his way. Whatever the solution, be it the AHL or practice, or a week at home with his family or sleeping in his equipment, Devan Dubnyk needs to find his comfort zone, to find whatever has left him.
I’m hopeful he regains his game and has a long run as the Oilers starter, but right now he’s putting out fire with gasoline. And he needs to find his game outside the NHL crease.
The Oilers can’t afford this anymore.