The Edmonton Oilers had a very active day in the trade market on Tuesday, sending Ilya Bryzgalov off to the Minnesota Wild for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft and then acquiring Viktor Fasth from the Anaheim Ducks for a third-round pick in 2014 and a fifth-round pick in 2015. And while there was clearly some good thought process behind these moves, when one steps back to take a look it’s hard not to shake your head.
On the goaltending front these two moves could at best be described as a wash, as neither Bryzgalov nor Fasth are franchise changers. Bryzgalov was only brought into town as a stopgap option in late November, and after posting a 5-8-5 record with a 3.01 GAA, the Oilers are actually a bit lucky to get what they did for him. But washing that out by giving two picks that are more valuable on paper for a guy who has never before consistently started at the NHL level and has been hurt for most of the current season makes absolutely no sense, especially when he is guaranteed $3.4 million next year.
And what really makes effectively swapping these two goalies foolish is that the Oilers have just signed Ben Scrivens to a two-year extension, in turn making him the long-term starter. This looked to be a smart move when one considers that the 27-year-old has a 2.15 GAA in seven games with Edmonton since being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings midway through January. When you also consider that the team has averaged 3.3 goals per game against this year it is even more encouraging, and Scrivens’ mix of size and shot stopping ability made him a great option to be the No. 1 moving forward.
Besides the fact that the Oilers already had an entrenched No. 1 before acquiring Fasth, the biggest thing holding the franchise back is their lack of defensemen. Outside of Nick Schultz, the team does not have a single defender signed past the current season, and the 31-year-old has been widely rumored to be heading out the door prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. Furthermore, the only players out of the rest of the unit with a real long-term future in Edmonton are Justin Schultz and Martin Marincin, ensuring that the team essentially has to build a defense on the fly this summer in order to contend in 2015
For a team that ranks 22nd in goals for and 29th in goals against per game, it simply doesn’t make much sense to trade for a goaltender who wants to be a number one but will be blocked from this opportunity in Edmonton. This looks likely to end up as yet another disappointing move for a franchise that has had the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Draft three out of the last four seasons yet still are last in the Western Conference with a 20-34-8 record.