Having recently signed free agent goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, the Edmonton Oilers cut bait on veteran backup Jason LaBarbera, who was put on waivers earlier today.
Yannick Weber (VAN) and Jason LaBarbera (EDM) on waivers today.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) November 18, 2013
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LaBarbera was off to a pretty rotten start with the Oilers this season (not exactly a team known for tight defensive play), and is on a 1-year, $1 million contract which takes him to unrestricted free agency this summer. Teams have until noon Eastern tomorrow to put in claims if interested, and now that we're past November 1st, the priority sequence of waiver claims goes in the reverse order of the league standings, so it's possible a team lower down could snag LaBarbera even if the Preds put in a claim.
UPDATE: It turns out that no teams claimed LaBarbera, so the Oilers are free to send him to their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.
The question this raises here in Nashville is whether the Predators should claim LaBarbera off the waiver wire, and add a dose of experienced goaltending to shore up their depth chart while Pekka Rinne continues recovering from his hip infection. While his career numbers don't knock your socks off, he's a known quantity as at least a reasonable NHL-caliber goaltender, while all Nashville has at the present time are unproven rookies.
In the nine games since Rinne went on Injured Reserve, the Preds have given up 36 goals, with a portion of those underwhelming numbers attributable to subpar goaltending. Marek Mazanec's performance Saturday against Chicago has many fans hoping that he can step up and carry the team for a few weeks until Rinne returns, while Carter Hutton hasn't yet earned such support.
With 23 players already on the Active Roster, the Preds would need to clear room in order add LaBarbera at this point. Unless someone else goes on Injured Reserve (recall that Filip Forsberg & Eric Nystrom didn't play Saturday, but we don't have reason to believe either was seriously hurt), the following could be sent to Milwaukee without having to clear waivers: Victor Bartley, Mattias Ekholm, Filip Forsberg or Marek Mazanec. It looks like Ryan Ellis has enough career NHL games under his belt to require waivers now.
So what do you think? Should the Predators claim LaBarbera and give him a shot, or ride out the next few weeks with Hutton & Mazanec?
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