A look at three of the biggest stories from the NHL weekend and how they’ll play into the coming days.
Why You Hefta Be Bad?
God bless the Edmonton Oilers.
A team that has already spent the season giving the league so much — automatic wins, crazy trade rumors, doughnut-based media scandals — topped itself this weekend when it brought Ilya Bryzgalov back to the NHL.
The Oilers agreed to terms with the free-agent goaltender Friday, signing him to a one-year deal worth $2 million. He’ll spend some time in the AHL on a conditioning assignment, then join the Oilers to compete with Devan Dubnyk for the starting job.
While Bryzgalov’s high-priced stint in Philadelphia was a disaster, he’s still one of the league’s most entertaining characters. He also has some history in Edmonton. His infamous “Why you hefta be mad?” monologue was directed at Oiler fans booing Chris Pronger, and he also referred to Edmonton as the North Pole. He clarified that latter remark over the weekend.
Dubnyk has taken much of the blame from Edmonton fans outraged at yet another lost season (the Oilers are already 14 points out of a playoff spot), and he certainly deserves his share based on an ugly stat line. His 3.92 goals-against average and .876 save percentage both rank toward the bottom of the league. And while it’s true that all goalies go through bad stretches, at some point the Oilers were going to have to make a change. If anything, bringing in a capable veteran free agent was probably a smarter strategy than trading away young players in a panic move.
That’s not to say the Bryzgalov signing didn’t cost the Oilers anything, because it did. In order to free up the money to make the deal, Edmonton was forced to move veteran defenseman Ladislav Smid to the Flames for a pair of middling prospects. (There have also been persistent rumors of a pending deal to send Ales Hemsky to the Flyers, but it has yet to happen.)
The Smid deal becomes part of a trivia question, marking only the second time in history that the Battle of Alberta rivals have made a trade with each other. More importantly: Smid was acquired seven years ago as the key prospect in the Pronger trade, which serves as a painful reminder for Oiler fans of just how long this perpetual rebuild is taking.
As for the action on the ice, it was more of the same for the Oilers. They lost to the Flyers on Saturday and the Blackhawks on Sunday, and now sit in the 29th spot in the league.