Monday, July 12, 2010

Creating Your Own Problem & The Return Of The Three Headed Monster?

It sounds like the Oilers have come to terms on a two year deal with goaltender Devan Dubnyk, on a one way deal with a cap hit around $800,000 per season. IF the Oilers have decided Dubnyk is their guy, a two year deal is not unreasonable since it can potentially help the Oilers avoid a Group VI free agency with Dubnyk in the event he doesn't play enough games this season (like Schneider in VAN). That said, there are two problems with the deal in my opinion: the yearly amount, and the timing of this deal.

The main problem here is you've created a favorable comparable in arbitration for Deslauriers. If I'm JDD's agent, I don't think I need to work very hard to show that (a) Edmonton thinks Deslauriers is better, since they gave him the majority of starts last year after Khabibulin went down and (b) Deslauriers had a better performance last season than Dubnyk, by whatever measure you want to use (Wins, starts, SV%, SO) in the best environment possible for a direct comparison - the same team. His agent has another decent comparable in the aforementioned Schneider, a goalie with 10 career starts that was given a one way deal at $900,000 for the 2010/11 season.

The other problem I have with this deal is that $0.8 million is more than the Oilers probably should have needed to spend to get Dubnyk under contract for two seasons. Dubnyk and his agent have surely seen the market - there are a lot of goalies available for nothing. Yes, it's possible he could be claimed on waivers this fall if EDM were to send him down, but it's not a certainty. You'd think management would have been able to leverage that uncertainty to get Dubnyk to take a lower wage than $800,000 for the certainty of a one way deal, but perhaps his wage suggests that both parties feel his value around the league is higher than I imagine it to be?

As noted at the fantastic CopperNBlue, it's not impossible that the arbitrator listens to one of the strangers hearings imaginable, in that the Oilers might be arguing for a higher award so they'll be able to walk away, while Deslauriers seeks an award just below the amount required for Edmonton to have walk-away rights. CopperNBlue suggests that somewhere around $1.3 million is the line above which the Oilers could theoretically walk away from Deslauriers, and I, more or less, agree. If anything, I think the magic number might be more like $1.4 million. That would be right around the salary of another potential comparable, Jonas Gustavsson. So, if Deslauriers is awarded a salary above the walk away point, the Oilers might be able to get out of this problem unscathed, but it would seem to be an unintentional "victory" - if the Oilers were worried about this possibility, you'd think they'd have either (a) not qualified Deslauriers, and tried to sign him as a UFA afterwards if they wanted him back, on their own terms or (b) waited to sign Dubnyk until they find out exactly what happens with Deslauriers.

One reason that many suggested as a possible rational for the decision to not qualify Potulny was the unwillingness to get stuck with an arbitration award that was perceived to be worth more than Potulny could negotiate on the open market. I have no idea if that's why the Oilers decided against qualifying Potulny (and perhaps Pouliot), but if that was part of their reasoning, I don't see why they wouldn't have extended that reasoning to include Deslauriers, and chosen not to qualify him either. Presumably the Oilers knew two weeks ago that Dubnyk was in their future plans, there is/was no reason to get stuck with a ~ $1.1 million contract for a goalie you don't really want when you can just sign a comparable replacement on the UFA market for $0.6 million if you develop a need for another goaltender.

So, it wouldn't be terribly shocking, if after Deslauriers' arbitration hearing in a couple of weeks, the Oilers have the following three goalies on one way contracts:

Khabibulin - 3.75 mil
Dubnyk - 0.8 mil
Deslauriers - 1.1 mil

1 comment:

Buddha Pest said...

I think you've hit on a few questions that I've had regarding the goalie situation this summer.

If I was running the team, I would done anything to avoid having both DD and JDD back if both wanted one-way contracts.

Given a choice I would have went with DD as well, so I'm glad he's signed. I would guess that a two way contract was also offered to DD, but he probably wasn't interested. I'm also guessing that he may have thought his actual FMV was above $800,000, so he takes 2 years at the same amount instead. Perhaps if the Oilers were only willing to give him the qualifying amount, he also would have elected arbitration, if he was entitled to it.

Regarding JDD, I too question why they qualified him unless they thought that he was definitely going to sign and not go to arbitration. So, if there's no escape for the Oilers after arbitration, then he'll be pretty expensive and un-tradeable.

I hope that the Oilers can find a trade partner for him and I'm guessing that they've been trying to trade him all summer with no takers.

Now that DD is signed and if Khabby isn't anywhere near ready for the start of the season, then I hope they either sign a veteran goalie to platoon with DD or bring in one or two un-signed vets on try-outs. Who knows, maybe there's another "Michael Leighton" out there.