Fans frustrated with the state of the Oilers and calling for change, especially when it comes to the team's goaltenders, got their wish on Friday night as the Oilers made a trade, an NHL signing and an AHL signing and added a total of three new goaltenders to the system.
The obvious headliner here is Ilya Bryzgalov. It remains to be seen if the Smid deal was simply a case of moving out a player to get a goaltending prospect and create cap space to sign Bryz (which they already had) or if it is pre-cursor to something more. Right now though, the Edmonton Oilers have themselves a new goaltender, and that is the "big get" on this chaotic night for Oiler fans.
It's obvious that management has never had the confidence in Devan Dubnyk that they wanted as they pursued Ben Bishop, Jonathan Bernier and Cory Schneider over the summer before handing Dubnyk back the crease and seeing him get off to the worst start of his career. The Oilers now have someone that will either replace Dubnyk, or, depending on performance, potentially split time with him.
It should be noted that Bryzgalov's career Sv% is .913 as compared to Dubnyk's .911, so if the Oilers believe they are getting a goaltender a level above Dubnyk, they're in for an unpleasant awakening.
While I don't welcome the circus that is likely to follow Bryzgalov to Edmonton, the fact is, there are worse moves that could have been made. The Oilers could have traded core assets to make an immediate fix in goal, and with the news that Bryzgalov is only signed through the remainder of the season (salary info is not yet available), they have limited their commitment to a questionable commodity and made a change without giving up anything beyond money.
The team also added Laurent Brossoit (acquired in the Smid trade) and former NHL 1st rounder Chet Pickard who washed out of the league, but played well in Europe last season. Pickard is signed on an AHL only deal so he does not count towards Edmonton's 50 contract total.
I'm sure people will have strong opinions about the Bryzgalov signing, and if it cost them Smid to get it done, it's a bad move, but as a solution to what the team obviously felt was unacceptable situation at the goaltending position, I am pleased to hear they did not part with assets or commit to a questionable player on a longer-term contract.
Overall, I don't think they are a better team for having signed Bryzgalov, but at least they didn't screw themselves over for their real opportunity to solve the goaltending position long-term, which arrives next summer. Let's just hope that the Bryzgalov circus doesn't cause any further damage to this badly broken organization in the meantime.