The Oilers’ youth movement and reliance on first-round picks to carry them forward is one that’s taking its time getting going. One of the biggest issues they’ve had in being a more consistent team is stopping opponents from scoring.
Nikolai Khabibulin hasn’t exactly been the stopper the team thought he’d be when they signed him as a free agent, they feel they’ve got a bright future with 2004 first-round pick Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk has split time with Khabibulin the past two seasons and has put up relatively average numbers.
Two seasons ago, Dubnyk had a .916 save percentage and a 2.71 goals against average on the worst team in the NHL. Last season he saw his save percentage drop by .002 but his goals against average improved just slightly while playing in 12 more games. With numbers like that, the Oilers hope he’s just off to a slow start.
While his rookie season was bad, he’s gotten slightly better since then, enough for the Oilers to give him a stunning two-year extension worth $7 million. Hey, at least his numbers are better than that of Columbus goalie Steve Mason.
Still, who would you rather have for $3.5 million per season: Dubnyk, Tuukka Rask, or Kari Lehtonen? The Oilers hope their 26 year-old is about to hit his stride.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.