Roy Gone, Ilya Around, Minor League Impact Abounds

Photo by Rob Ferguson

Friday nights are supposed to be fun. Kicking of the weekend in style. Hanging with your crew. Relaxing with the ones you love. But if you’re an Edmonton Oilers fan, Friday nights can be like a trip to the discount oral surgeon. Friday night, November 8th was just that.

It began with Ladi Smid being moved and ended with Ilya Bryzgalov being assigned to Oklahoma City. To get from there to here you have to follow the trail of transactions, trades, and tirades of the Edmonton Oilers organization, a group who isn’t completely against making bizarre, seemingly unhelpful moves. Could this be one of those moments?

Ladislav Smid, Olivier Roy to Calgary Flames for Roman Horak, Laurent Brossoit

The head scratching began when Smid was traded virtually for nothing. Horak is an offensive centerman/winger, but his ceiling is probably AHL with some NHL hopefulness, not exactly what the Oilers need. The Barons, on the other hand, have no players (other than Lander) on their roster down the center who have scoring goals in mind (Martindale qualifies, when healthy). Depth center indeed has been a problem, and this helps OKC. Here are Horak’s numbers.

His AHL totals are hovering around Chris VandeVelde levels, but this is a guy with way fewer defensive skills. That might spell trouble for OKC and Edmonton if they feel they’ve locked in a solid prospect. His presence will be heavy in OKC, and I still think he will be valuable there.

To “sweeten” the deal the Flames add prospect tender, Laurent Brossoit. Sure the guy was an ECHL tender of the week, but he’s likely a year behind Olivier Roy. Yet he’s probably a better goaltender, but not by much. With Bachman ailing, and still in Edmonton, Brossoit might just get time in Oklahoma City, but things might get tight (get to that in a bit). For now, Roy for Brossoit feels pretty even stevens. Yet fans in OKC have grown fond of Roy. He’s a very nice kid, smart, and endearing. He will definitely be missed. He is rumored to be headed to Alaska to join the Aces of the ECHL. I’m anxious to see how he overcomes a move of this nature so early in his career.

The smart Oilers fan was enraged by the move of Smid for what amounts to not very much. Yet that same fan immediately understands that clearing our salary means that something else was being cooked up, and indeed it was, and perhaps more is still to come.

Oilers Sign Ilya Bryzgalov

So the big get of the evening turned out to be Ilya Bryzgalov. With heavy NHL experience, and KHL time a year ago, the 33 year old goaltender went unsigned this offseason. The Oilers seem to feel that he’s an upgrade to Devan Dubnyk and Jason Labarera. The farm angle on this signing is interesting.

Bryz, as he’s known, is a lightning rod for really good quotes, and often ridicule. He’ll bring that winning charm to a couple of games with the Oklahoma City Barons via a conditioning stint. Dubnyk and Labarbera will continue on in their one and two roles, and then when Ilya is ready for the NHL, things get hairy.

Labarbera will be placed in OKC most likely, with Richard Bachman soon thereafter (when healthy). Those two will be your one two punch in OKC. Drop Tyler Bunz down to the ECHL with Chet Pickard (signed to an AHL/ECHL contract yesterday) alongside him. The Bakersfield Condors already are riding with two tenders all their own, who will likely have to end up elsewhere. Then you also have Ty Rimmer, currently in Quad City of the CHL, and Fran’s Tuohima who’s in the SM-liiga. Take a deep breathe, and realize that’s a huge number of players at the same position. The likelihood that the Barons take on three, even if for a short time, is very high. Not ideal, but entirely possible.

The Bryz won’t play Saturday night in San Antonio, but he certainly could start as soon as Tuesday. Which means his return will take place in front of thousands of OKC school kids. Classic.

Joel Broda released from PTO

Joel Broda, playing center, has been released from his AHL tryout contract. He was a solid player, but clearly gets squeezed out with Lander and Horak both in OKC. We’ll see him again.

In conclusion, it was a wild evening. One that felt unfinished, and maybe that’s the biggest discouraging thought rolling around in Oilers fans brains today – Smid for nothing? Bryz better than Dubnyk? Welcome to the Edmonton squad circa 2013. Wild things happen.