Of all the teams that I listed in an experimental post about Marty Turco’s possible suitors, the Edmonton Oilers were one of the most logical squads for the puck moving goalie. Part of the reasoning was because Nikolai Khabibulin struggled so much on and off the ice during the 2009-10 season, but another reason was that the team hadn’t signed a backup yet.
The team minimized those chances, as TSN reports that the team is on the verge of signing backup goalie Devan Dubnyk to a two-year, one-way contract worth $800K per season.
Dubnyk hasn’t really delivered much on either the pro (4-10-2 record with a 3.57 GAA and 88.9 save percentage in 19 games played) or minor levels. The team invested a lot in him, though, making him the 14th pick of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
(Gary Joyce wrote a great piece for ESPN The Magazine [subscription required] detailing the fact that – despite never seeing any real results – Dubnyk was part of a trend that saw NHL teams drafting goalies strictly for size. At 6’5″, the large goalie can take up a lot of the net … even though he seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time more than his smaller, more agile counterparts.)
Dubynk is a classic case of a team feeling the need to justify a high draft pick with a risky signing. Still, I think he can justify his existence if some headline writer uses his last name to write a pun-based “Dubynk gets the dubya” type headline.
Overall it’s a minor but weak signing by the Oilers, especially at a considerable price when you take his lackluster results into account. Then again, I guess this is one of those “potential versus production” debates, being that the team could argue that he still has time to improve at 24.
Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.
Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.
The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.
“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.
The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.
Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.
There’s another Raffl in the NHL.
On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.
Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.
“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.
With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.
For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.