Friday, July 06, 2012

Oilers show faith in Dubnyk and Petry, Gagner headed for arbitration

With the Edmonton Oilers deciding to sign goaltender Devan Dubnyk and Jeff Petry to two year contract extensions, General Manager Steve Tambellini ensures he'll have far less on his plate to deal with following the 2012-2013 season. Locking up the restricted free agents to multi year pacts, will ensure the organization can put all their attention towards sigining Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall to what will most certainly be lengthy and rather costly deals, come this time next year.

In Dubnyk, the Oilers hope they have found their starting netminder for the forseeable future. The twenty-six year old goaltender is coming off his best NHL campaign to date and has earned the job as Edmonton's starter come 2012-2013. Devan was given the same opportunity this past season but struggled to find his game to start the year. Couple that with the unconscious performance from veteran Nikolai Khabibulin to start the season and Dubnyk found himself on the end of the bench, far more often than most had expected.

To his credit, he stuck with it and was arguably the Oilers MVP over the final half of the season. He finished the year off with a 20-20-3 mark in forty-seven appearances and a 2.67 GAA and a .916 SV%. It was no real surprise that Edmonton decided to sign the former first round pick to an extension but the dollar value was a little surprising.

Considering the Regina native has yet to show that he is capable of running with the ball as a starter from start to finish, despite being given the opportunity, the $3.5 million salary was a little shocking. That being said, the organization clearly believes in Dubnyk and it is not as though they signed him to a lengthy extension. What it does, is ensure the Oilers will have at least one goalie under contract come 2013-2014, as Khabibulin's four year contract expires after the coming season. Dubnyk has been handed the keys to the it's up to him to prove he is right man for the job.

As for Petry, his deal will see him earn $1.75 million for each of the next two seasons and fell in line where most felt he would. The former second round selection took a major step in his development last year, showing the promise that many within the organization felt he had. After struggling to start the season and finding himself between Edmonton and Oklahoma City for much of the year, he took a major step forward after an injury to defenceman Tom Gilbert forced him into a more prominent role.

Along with fellow blueliner Ladislav Smid, the pair inherited the role as the Oilers top pairing and both flourished with their extra ice time. He played in all situations and seemed to become more confident with each passing situation. Petry finished the year with twenty-five points in seventy-three games and led all Edmonton defenceman in scoring. While it is an accomplishment Jeff should be proud of, the fact the Oilers top scoring blueliner registered just twenty-five points, with the firepower this club has upfront, is rather staggering. The addition of Justin Schultz into the fold and what will hopefully be a healthy Ryan Whitney, should change that and allow Petry to further develop his overall game. In my mind, he will never be an offensive juggernaut from the backend but he does have the potential to chip in, as he did last season.

Which brings us to Gagner. It is no shock that Sam decided to file for arbitration and my guess would be, that he is looking for a contract in the $4 million neighbourhood. At twenty-two years old, he still has a ton of upside but I have long said he is no longer a good fit in Edmonton. His skill set and size has become nothing more than redundant within the Oilers lineup and at a salary north of $4 million a season, it makes no sense in keeping him around. If  Gagner were a second line centre who could put up forty points, had size and played a solid two way game, this would be a discussion worth having. The organization will never admit it but as soon as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was drafted by the Oilers, Sam's days in Edmonton were numbered...and that number appears about ready to come up.


  1. Hi Rob, I agree with you on Gagner not being in the Oilers future and have hoped for awhile that a trade including him would be best for all. What I would like to see is a trade for Bobby Ryan. Maybe Hemsky and Gagner for the big centre.

  2. I really like Sam and much of what he brings to the table but they definitely need some size. Unfortunately, if they don't add size, not much will change in the W column. Ryan is a great player and adding him to their current group of wingers would clearly work on the ice but likely would cause major issue $ wise in the very near future.