The simple truth is that the Oilers are not a good hockey team. If they're going to be a playoff team next season they need to add good players up front, on the blue line, and in net. I have my doubt that they can fill all the holes between now and next year, there is just too much to do. Oilers GM Craig MacTavish is going to give it a shot though and started today by moving a soon to be unrestricted free agent, Devan Dubnyk,, to Nashville for Matt Hendricks, a move that as far as I can tell addresses none of the Oilers needs. Unless I missed the team's need for over the hill, bottom six (on his best day) forwards on deals that can only be described as questionable.
I'm in the pro Dubnyk camp. There is no denying that. I would have quite been happy had the Oilers rolled the dice this off season, re-signing him to a cheap contract that could very well have turned out to be a steal. But it is clear that management sees things differently and it was obvious that Dubnyk's days in Edmonton were numbered. So the decision to move Dubnyk is hardly surprising. What is surprising is that if this was the best deal that was available, that the Oilers simply didn't just walk away from Dubnyk in July.
Something is not always better than nothing. This is one of those times.
Hendricks signed a four-year deal with the Predators as a free agent in July of last year; a deal that comes with an annual cap hit of $1.85M. Oh and he's 32. In 44 games this season he's scored two goals and added two assists. His 0.09 points/game this season is well of the areer best of 0.32 that he posted in 2010/11, but if you look at the years in between is probably the type of production that should be expected during his time with the Oilers. The fancy stats don't put him in a much better light either. His Corsi% this season is 42.3%, lowest among Predators forwards. He has had tough zone starts though, second toughest on the team, but even when you account for that the results are not very good. All signs point to a players who belongs, more often than not, on the fourth line.
On the plus side the cap hit itself isn't terrible, and with the cap sitting where it is this is a deal that won't cripple the Oilers. But it's not a good deal either. It's been said many times before but it's worth saying again, because of the salary cap NHL GMs are locked in an efficiency contest. Matt Hendricks might be a character guy, the kind of guy who's "good in the room" but he's not much of a player and his contract isn't very good. If this was the best the Oilers could do, they should have done nothing.