Garon or Roloson?

Jonathan Willis
November 06 2008 10:15AM

It has now been fairly widely reported that New Jersey Devils professional scout Bob Hoffmeyer was in attendance at the Oilers-Blue Jackets game last night. It’s also been reported that he’s expected to attend tonight’s match against the Penguins.

Sportsnet’s Mark Spector has the definitive column on the subject, which isn’t something I’m used to saying about Sportsnet writers.

Discussing the tandem of Garon and Roloson, Spector said the following:

Sportsnet.ca has learned that internal discussions are focused on which goalie would go... do the Oilers send Garon, who is younger at age 30 and makes just US $1 million this season, to New Jersey? Or does this opportunity mark a peak in value for the 39-year-old Roloson, who will make US$3 million this season?

Now, if this information is accurate (and Dwayne Roloson starting the last four games lends credence to it), Lowe, Tambellini and the rest of the Oilers front office are seriously considering going with a Roloson/Deslauriers tandem for the remainder of the year. It’s a bad idea.

Here are the three goalies, statistically, through this season and last:

Dwayne Roloson

2008–09: 2-2-1, 2.78 GAA, .915 SV % 2007–08: 15-17-5, 3.05 GAA, .901 SV %

Mathieu Garon

2008–09: 3-3-0, 3.18 GAA, .895 SV % 2007–08: 26-18-1, 2.66 GAA, .913 SV %

Jeff Deslauriers

2008–09: 1-0-0, 3.02 GAA, .897 SV % 2007–08: 26-23-5, 2.90 GAA, .912 SV % (AHL)

Now, the obviously tempting thought is what kind of return the Oilers would get for trading Mathieu Garon. If they’re considering trading him, I’d imagine a roster player or very appealing prospect would be coming back the other way, given that Garon was excellent last season and that his salary is extremely reasonable.

However, if Garon is traded, can Roloson and Deslauriers hold the fort? I’m doubtful. Roloson has impressed this season, especially in a 1-0 overtime loss to Boston that sparked his latest stint in the starting role. Here’s what Lowe told Spector about Roloson:

“It's pretty hard for us to trade Roli right now, when he's our best goalie." "I don't think he had a bad a year as everyone said he did—his save percentage was above .900. It's just that Garon played that much better.”

The one thing that seems absolutely clear is that Jeff Deslauriers is being pegged as the backup goaltender. Possibly it’s because the Oilers wouldn’t get any kind of return for him, or perhaps they genuinely believe in the player, but he’s been slotted as the backup since Day One of training camp and it’s now only a matter of time until he gets that spot.

I actually really like Deslauriers. He’s come out of a brutal Oilers development system, one where he played for five different farm teams, only one of which was an Oilers’ AHL-affiliate. The thing is he isn’t the kind of backup who should be employed by a team less than confident in its starter. Roloson and Garon both have pretty big question marks around them, and when one of them is traded away, if the one the Oilers keep falters, Deslauriers is going to be thrown into an ugly situation.

Garon has struggled early. He showed last season, however, that he can provide decent goaltending as a starting goalie. At age 30, he’s in his prime. Roloson, on the other hand, is at the tail end of his career, and had his worst season since 2001–02; the kind of season where he was outplayed, not only by Garon, but also by players like Peter Budaj and Nikolai Khabibulin, both of whom lost their jobs last season. Through five games, Roloson looks to have turned it around. Then again, in 2003–04, Brian Boucher posted five consecutive shutouts, so a five game sample really isn’t enough to go on.

Whatever decision is finally made, these doubts about Garon, combined with Roloson’s age, make it more than likely that the Oilers will have another new goalie next season.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Dennis
November 06 2008, 02:29PM
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Sweet sassy mo-lassy.

There had better be another deal coming for another goalie if we're about to deal Garon to the Devils.

Otherwise, let's just look ahead to 2010 season in terms of playoff participation.

I know Spec's been around long enough to be plugged in - old buddy Stauffer now being privy to the inner workings won't hurt his CI list either. So I'll trust him enough to believe that moving Garon is a possibility.

Wow.

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#2 Rev
November 06 2008, 02:35PM
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Everyone agrees that something has to give. There is no way Garon is going to get hot unless he gets consistent games. Roli has been getting the starts more for advertising purposes than for the #1 slot.

Garon was listed as the #1 and has only played 6 games. Based on what we see him do last year - has he even had a chance to lose the #1? Couple that with the team playing better in front of Garon, and his age; not sure why we would dump him.

Either way - we are going to lose a goalie I have respect for.

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#3 Mother Pucker Hockey
November 06 2008, 02:37PM
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Send rollie, and don't think twice about it.

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#4 milli
November 06 2008, 02:47PM
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Ya, my god, how is this even a discussion, I love roli and am glad he seems to have found his form, DEAL HIM WHILE HE'S HOT. The guy is 39, making 3 mil this year, if we can get anything, ANYTHING, this deal needs to be done.

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#5 Jonathan Willis
November 06 2008, 03:01PM
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Here's the link to Spector's column for anyone who's interested - I must have formatted it incorrectly in the article.

I'm very surprised this topic is being discussed; the only reason I can think of is that the return for Garon must be significantly better than that for Roloson OR, as Dennis mentioned, that there is a second trade in the works right behind the first.

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#6 jdrevenge
November 06 2008, 03:13PM
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MacT has far too much patience to be trading Garon 12 games in. It would be complete idiocy to trade this guy away and keep Roli (who has really only had one good game) and JDD.

Roli gone for a second rounder and we roll the dice on the french connection. (is what i would like to have happen :)_)

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#7 charlie
November 06 2008, 07:44PM
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JDD is sweet. He's the future. I say go with The Future.

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#8 RobinB
November 06 2008, 09:08PM
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Jonathan: Don't read too much into Hoffmeyer being in Columbus. That's to be expected because the midwest is his turf.

One of the first things I used to do on the beat was look at the seating chart posted in the press box on game nights. When sniffing for interest by other teams, you had to eliminate the scouts who were always at a given rink because that rink was part of their turf and look at who didn't belong under normal circumstances.

The fail-safe method, of course, was to grab a coffee with the scout and ask if there was any action. If they knew you, you'd get the inside track -- no quotes -- but the info.

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#9 David S
November 06 2008, 10:07PM
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The general consensus is that MacT and company are building a team for the near future. Kids are getting thrown in the deep end and bizarre experiments are afoot everywhere you look.

Obviously this three goalie thing is coming to a head. I think Rev is on the right track when he says Garon needs a few games together to get warmed up and its pretty obvious that the team plays its guts out for JDD.

If its true that we're setting the team up, then its Roli at 39 who is the guy to go. There doesn't seem to be any other rational option.

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#10 Jonathan
November 06 2008, 10:32PM
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Robin: Thanks for that. One of the best things about having you on this site is being able to ask an actual beat reporter how things are done, and why they're done that way.

I know you take a lot of grief (and some of it from me), but the insight is really appreciated because it's unique.

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#11 Antony Ta
November 06 2008, 11:42PM
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I don't think go with the future is the reason to play JDD. I think the performance of Garon and Roloson has at least shown that JDD should be given a chance to earn it.

Of course, you can also attribute part of their performance to our 60 minute penalty kill style defense and hands-off approach of the Forwards' D-zone assignments: don't give them any room and as a result force turnovers. Stand around, and watch guys tee it up all day and score on rebounds.

Which might mean JDD will get lit up next time he plays - due to no fault of his own.

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