NHL News Catchup: Dubnyk, Scrivens, Del Zotto on the move…

Image courtesy of ilovegoalies.blogspot.com.

A whole bunch of trade news this week, as action starts to heat up (a) in the run up to the Olympic roster freeze (February 7th-23rd) and (b) in the time remaining before the subsequent NHL trade deadline (March 5th).

EDM trades G Devan Dubnyk to NSH for F Matt Hendricks

In a surprising-but-not-surprising move, the Edmonton Oilers traded divisive goalie Devan Dubnyk to the Nashville Predators in exchange for veteran “energy” forward Matt Hendricks.

  • Surprising: Dubnyk, prior to this season, had good numbers on a bad team.  His even strength save percentage went from .921 (31st in NHL with min. 15 GP, 2010-11), to 0.927 (17th in NHL with min. 15 GP, 2011-12), to 0.922 (22nd in NHL with min. 15 GP, 2012-13).  Sure, those aren’t outstanding numbers, or even above average, but considering he was on an awful team in each of those seasons, they’re remarkably solid.  His total save percentage went .916, .914, and .920.  In other words, hovering around average.
  • Not surprising: Dubnyk has been a scapegoat for Oiler fans for the last couple of season, taking flak for “not being starter material”.  Despite his numbers on an historically awful team, he was highly criticized for letting in soft goals.  This is a genuine flaw in his game, but one that may have been exacerbated and magnified due to the city he played in and the state of their team.
  • Surprising: the Edmonton Oilers defensive corps has long been acknowledged as one of, if not the primary issues with the team.  When the best player on that corps is Jeff “I Just Reached 200 NHL Games” Petry, there’s a problem with your squad (and I like Petry).  For the first move made to fix the problem to be “getting rid of the goalie hung out to dry each night”, that’s a bit of a head-scratcher.
  • Not surprising: new General Manager Craig MacTavish made it abundantly clear last summer that Dubnyk was not secure in his role as number 1 goalie on the team, indicating a lack of faith in the man.  Dubnyk responded by… posting a .894 SV% and 3.36 GAA in 32 games.  That’s no way to impress the new boss, even if your team isn’t helping you out even a little.
  • Surprising: they moved Dubnyk, a flawed but still highly capable goalie with a history of solid performances on an awful team (yes, I know I keep repeating that line), for a generic, over-rated, overpaid, aging 4th liner with too much term on his contract and too little hockey skill in his toolbox.  Lowetide says it better than I can, but basically Hendricks is not a good NHL player, particularly not at his price-point ($1.85m for the next three seasons).
  • Not surprising: another goalie, long rumoured to be of interest to the Oilers, evidently came available, in their eyes making Dubnyk expendable even despite his (Dubnyk’s) low-value.

EDM trades 2014 3rd Rd Pick to LAK for G Ben Scrivens

Their second move within the space of an hour, Craig MacTavish immediately replaces outgoing netminder Dubnyk with local-area product Ben Scrivens from the LA Kings.  Scrivens is well thought of, having an excellent career for Cornell of the NCAA, and proving his worth as a professional goalie for Toronto of the AHL under now-Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins.

In 53 NHL games, he has a 2.56 GAA and .916 SV%, very similar numbers to Dubnyk though in far less games.  19 of those games were also played this season with a very strong, and very defensive minded Kings squad, helping him to a .931 SV% and 1.97 GAA.  Safe to say that he isn’t a sure-thing to grab the starting role, though just as equally it’s not impossible.  We just don’t really know what Scrivens is yet in this league.

What we do know is that Scrivens is an unrestricted free agent after this season, making the Dubnyk-Hendricks-Scrivens moves even more baffling.  The Oilers sent out a more experienced goalie with a bigger track-record of NHL success, who was coming up to UFA status, and brought in an unexperienced goalie with little NHL track-record to replace him, who is also coming up to UFA status.

The Oilers must want to sign him with an eye to seeing him battle for next seasons’ starting job (or else they have no goalie for next year – Bryzgalov won’t be staying), but what incentive does Scrivens have to stay?  The Oilers are awful, and besides likely being handed decent money and a shot at a starting role, Scrivens’ personal numbers will likely take a massive hit playing for such an awful squad.  This will likely impact his future earnings in a negative manner, perhaps ruining any chance he has at an NHL career.  Tuukka Rask couldn’t drag the Oilers’ sorry carcass into the playoffs, let alone Ben Scrivens.

EDM trades C Ryan Martindale, F Derek Nesbitt to FLA for F Steve Pinizzotto and F Jack Combs.

A minor league trade if there ever was one.  Edmonton trades highly skilled but highly frustrating center Ryan Martindale to Florida along with AHL veteran Derek Nesbitt, for two pro hockey vets.

Ryan Martindale

Part of the highly touted group of players selected by Edmonton in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, he is also part of the highly disappointing group of players selected by Edmonton in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.  Big (6’3″, 200lbs+), and highly skilled (207 points in 243 OHL games for Ottawa), his only major flaw appeared to be his intensity:

The Good: Martindale has above-average puck skills and gets regular praise from scouts as a talented puck-handler and playmaker. He’s good with the puck in open ice, and can be a very effective puck distributor. On one of the better lines in the CHL, he was regularly the player who was the designated puck carrier and the player who started a fair amount of offense. His skating has improved to the point where it can look pro-average and he moves around at a decent level. Martindale’s defensive game also took a step forward and he showed decent prowess on the penalty kill.

The Bad: Martindale is a big player who put on some muscle this past year, yet scouts regularly point to the fact that he plays a fringe physical game, isn’t assertive at all, and can be intimidated when opposing defenders go after him.

Projection: He might end up as a below-average second line center, or he may not even play 100 games in the league, although if his defensive game continues to improve, a lower-line projection could get into the mix.

Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus, July 2011

Martindale turned pro for 2011-12, and turned in just 2 assists in 16 AHL games for Oklahoma City, and 15 points in 34 ECHL games for Stockton.  He fared slightly better in 2012-13, posting 14 points in 41 AHL games, and 2 goals in 5 ECHL games, and is doing even better this year with 10 points in 22 AHL games.

He seems to be adjusting to the pro game, but unless he takes a massive step forward next season his potential is an NHLer is going to keep falling rapidly.  The flashes of brilliance are reportedly there, as is his well-rounded game, but the consistency is struggling to get through to the surface.

Derek Nesbitt

31-year old Nesbitt is a veteran of 6 AHL seasons, plus 3 more in the ECHL, all of which followed a highly successful NCAA career for Ferris State between 2001 and 2005.  He has 222 points in 358 career AHL games and 240 points in 211 career ECHL games, so he’s a very good, established minor league forward who can no doubt help lead a team of young prospects, but he’s very unlikely to be any more than that to an NHL club.

Steve Pinizzotto

A 29 year old right winger with 257 AHL games and 12 NHL games to his name, Pinizzotto appears to be a very middling minor leaguer, but his intangibles clearly get him noticed.  Hockey’s Future:

Pinizzotto’s game combines great offensive ability and some grit. He can set-up and finish plays. Where Pinizzotto is particularly dangerous is around the net. He can often be found making things happen around the net. He is also quite strong along the boards and in the corners. Pinizzotto is a tough competitor and won’t shy away from the physical aspects of the game. He moves the puck extremely well and possesses nice passing skills. Pinizzotto has a strong shot with a quick release. He is strong on skates and has some good speed but needs to have a quicker first step. Like all young players, adding size and strength to his 6’1 frame will be crucial to Pinizzotto’s future success.

He can score in the minors no doubt, but I’m not sure “great offensive ability” is an apt description at this stage of his career – he’s scored 44 goals and 117 points in 257 AHL games, and 0 points in 12 NHL games.  A depth acquisition that will help OKC.

Jack Combs

A 25-year old forward who had a decent OHL career (235 points in 298 games), Combs has developed into a solid AHL contributor having tallied 68 points in 117 games for various teams, and has proven to be an excellent ECHL player (135 points in 118 games).

Beyond that, there isn’t much info on the guy.  Matt Henderson of Hockey Buzz and The Farm Club put it well:

Jack Combs’ NHL player page is so empty that it barely confirms that he is in fact alive.

NSH trades D Kevin Klein to NYR for D Michael Del Zotto

Nashville, like Edmonton, remains busy in the trade-department, acquiring talented-but-flawed defender Del Zotto out of New York for steady two-way guy Klein.

Michael Del Zotto

Drafted in the first round in 2008 by the Rangers, Del Zotto has had a turbulent career so far in the NHL.  Putting up strong numbers in his rookie season (37 points in 80 games), he faltered the following season, his offense dropping and exposing his lackluster defensive abilities.  He picked things up again in 2011-12, notching an impressive 41 points in 77 games and displaying a more astute defensive game, but that didn’t appear to develop further last season, with his name continually mentioned in trade rumours.  He has 11 points in 42 games so far this season.

Hockey’s Future had this to say about him:

Excellent offensive instincts, as well as exceptional skating and passing skills, Del Zotto plays with an edge to his game. A character player, with some defensive issues, there were questions about Del Zotto’s conditioning in the past. However, he has changed his conditioning regimen this season and is developing better gap control in his own zone.

Extraskater.com has his FF% at 49.8% so far this season, which is his second best career-mark in that category and indicating he is almost breaking even in shot-differential.  The Rangers are a 52.2% team, so he’s a little below average by their standards, but he is still young at 23, and defenders often take a long time to fully develop.  Nashville has a long history of churning out useful defenders, so perhaps they can refine MDZ’s game to the point where he can be considered a useful NHL blueliner.

Kevin Klein

The Rangers acquire 29 year old Kevin Klein, a veteran of 403 NHL games.  A defense-first player, Klein is nonetheless useful at both ends of the ice.  Hockey’s Future:

Kevin Klein is a smooth skater, a two-way puck-moving defenseman and is a very accurate passer when coming out of his own zone. Has good speed and acceleration. Has great vision and can consistently find the open man. He likes to lead the rush. A great shot-blocker, he will sacrifice his body fearlessly to block shots. He’s strong defensively in front of his net and along the boards. Although not overly physical, has a tendency to go for the big hip check when an opponent’s head is down. Good shot from the point on the power play, tries for accuracy to get the puck on the net. Good offensive instincts.

Klein is great at both ends of the ice. Offensively he can lead the rush and pass to a forward or can take it all the way to the opponent’s net. He is very aware defensively and clears the net effectively at the OHL level. He doesn’t take undisciplined penalties.

One of the main concerns about Klein’sgame is a lack of physical play. Heading into last season, scouts wanted to see a more physical side to his game. Klein did play more physically, but still needs to step up his physical play along the boards. Another thing he will have to work on is carrying the puck across his blue line. For the most part he’s a good puck-carrying defenseman, however he sometimes carries the puck a little too carelessly and gets pick-pocketed because of it.

With 110 career points, he can move the puck, but is primarily regarded for his defensive abilities.  ExtraSkater.com has his FF% as hovering between 44.1% and 46.4% since 2011, not very good numbers but then the Preds haven’t been a very good possession team in that span and Rob Vollman’s Player Usage Charts tell us he has played with some less-than-helpful zonestarts at times.

This is likely a trade that works for both teams – the Rangers get some experience and steadiness, while the Predators acquire some potential and offensive skill.

TOR acquires F Brandon Kozun from LAK for F Andrew Crescenzi

The Maple Leafs pick up a tiny former junior scoring star in exchange for a massive utility forward.

Brandon Kozun

Standing at just 5’8, the odds were always stacked against Kozun, but he enjoyed a highly successful WHL career with the Calgary Hitmen, tallying 270 points in 217 games including a pair of 100+ point seasons.  Selected in the 6th round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by LA, Kozun was an exciting if long-shot selection.  Hockey’s Future:

Small and elusive with great skating skills. Kozun’s competitiveness and offensive skills keep him on the ice despite large and more physical competition. Despite his size detractors Kozun has been a consistent near 50-point player in the AHL for the past three seasons.

Size will always be a question hanging over him, but he seems to have the speed and skill to make it to the NHL, at least in a depth capacity.  He is a good, but not great, AHL forward, and could probably make a useful bottom six scorer in the NHL who can step up into a scoring role when needed.

Andrew Crescenzi

The opposite of Kozun, Crescenzi stands at a monstrous 6’5, but didn’t really do much to distinguish himself in junior beyond a solid final season in 2011-12 (47 points in 52 games for Kitchener).  At 21, and with 5 career points in 49 AHL games, he has a long way to go before he is even a solid AHLer, let alone ready for an NHL call-up, but his size will always make him interesting.  Hockey’s Future:

A hulking center standing 6’5, Crescenzi possesses ideal size for a bottom-six player. Offensively, he can chip in on occasion, but his success is likely to stem from defensive assignments. He moves well for a big man, and initiates contact consistently. Continued focus on his skating, specifically explosiveness, will help him become a regular in the AHL.

Sounds like the kind of guy that LA will mold into a useful 4th line defensive center, no?

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