Sunday, November 30, 2014
One cannot help but wonder if there are days that Craig MacTavish sits around and ponders what might have been, had he only been willing to give up his first round selection at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. While the Edmonton Oilers used the seventh overall pick to snag themselves a blue-chip prospect in defenceman Darnell Nurse, it was that decision that ultimately kept this organization from acquiring former Vancouver Canucks netminder Cory Schneider.
In all honesty, had MacT given into the temptation and parted ways with the rumoured asking price of the No. 7 pick, defenceman Martin Marincin and an additional second rounder, chances are this team would be well on its way towards finding out who and what they are. At the time, it felt like a fairly steep price to pay but considering the Canucks would have been trading him within their own division, it was far from an outrageous ask but the rookie GM did not take the bait.
The fact the Oilers even entered into discussions about possibly acquiring Schneider, told us all we needed to know about what MacTavish thought of Devan Dubnyk. With that said, he was still unwilling to cough up the necessary pieces in order to get the trade done and Mike Gillis promptly sent the than twenty-seven year old tender off to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the ninth overall pick, which turned out to be London Knights star forward Bo Horvat.
With New Jersey playing in the Eastern Conference, they were not being asked to pay the same sort of premium as Edmonton but Lou Lamoriello stepped up to the plate and did what he had to do in order to get his man. Fast forward roughly seventeen months to the present day and the Oilers are still spinning their wheels and in dire need of a starting goaltender, while Schneider inked a seven year extension for $42 million to be the Devils No. 1 goalie for the foreseeable future.
In his defence, MacTavish wasted little time in recognizing the Oilers weakness in goal after taking over from Steve Tambellini but for some reason, he has taken no real action towards addressing it since saying thanks but no thanks to the Vancouver Canucks. Perhaps he took a look at the potential unrestricted free agent market in years’ time and felt he could get his hands on one of Jaroslav Halak or Jonas Hiller and came to the conclusion that there was no real need to pay such a high price for a starting goaltender.
While that was not exactly a bad idea, the Oilers GM inexcusably decided to go in a different direction midway through last season and settled on the duo of Viktor Fasth and Ben Scrivens to carry this group in 2014-15. After watching Dubnyk fall flat on his face, one would have thought MacTavish would have been in no real hurry to go down that road again but instead he did exactly that and not surprisingly the results have been rather predictable.
Unfortunately, there is no Cory Schneider for him to go out and get this time around and with next summer’s potential free agent class featuring names like Antti Niemi, Josh Harding, Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth there is no “sure-thing” for the Oilers to target and simply throw money at. If the organization felt giving up on a kid like Nurse seemed costly, and it was, god knows what they might be forced into parting with for a goaltender in the trade market this summer.
To make matters worse, the chances of the Edmonton Oilers being able to go out and acquire a netminder that is as good as the guy currently carrying the mail for the New Jersey Devils, are frankly non-existent. Hindsight is wonderful thing but something tells me if Craig MacTavish could do it all over again, he would not think twice about making the deal he mistakenly passed on back on June 30, 2013.