Mathieu Garon: (almost) worth his weight in draft position

Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008 11:10AM

Here’s Mathieu Garon’s stats line from the last couple of seasons:

2004-05 – AHL -– 32-14-4, 2.12 GAA, .927 SV%

2005-06 – NHL –- 31-26-3, 3.22 GAA, .894 SV%

2006-07 – NHL –- 13-10-6, 2.66 GAA, .907 SV%

2007-08 – NHL –- 26-18-1, 2.66 GAA, .913 SV%

2008-09 – NHL –- 5-8-0, 3.36 GAA, .885 SV%

Here is the stats line of a very comparable player:

2004-05 – AHL –- 31-16-2, 1.84 GAA, .934 SV%

2005-06 – NHL –- 11-9-2, 2.89 GAA, .900 SV%

2006-07 – AHL –- 39-20-1, 2.20 GAA, .933 SV%

2007-08 – NHL –- 17-23-2, 3.00 GAA, .910 SV%

2008-09 – NHL –- 5-8-4, 2.83 GAA, .893 SV%

The latter goaltender is bigger, younger and cheaper. His name is Jason Labarbera, and last night the Vancouver Canucks acquired him from Los Angeles in exchange for a seventh round draft pick.

In other words, if there was any confusion as to why Mathieu Garon has not been traded by the Oilers, there shouldn’t be. It’s because there simply isn’t a market for inconsistent goaltenders that have never held down a starting job in the NHL for two seasons in a row, particularly when said goaltender is in the midst of a poor season.

With Jeff Deslauriers on a two-week conditioning stint, it’s hard not to feel that a change is coming. Deslauriers will have an opportunity to play some games, get the rust off, and show what he can do (he’s done well so far this season, but in a grand total of six games -– that’s not enough of a sample to inspire confidence) over the next two weeks. Once he returns, the Oilers have a decision to make, and unless that decision involves moving one of Deslauriers or Roloson, the obvious solution is to move Mathieu Garon.

Quite probably in exchange for nothing.

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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 skidplate
December 31 2008, 11:16AM
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I agree. Garon may have been mismanaged this year, however, he had to come up big when he got his chance to play. He has not done this. As long as Deslauriers shows solid play in the AHL, Garon will be the one that is moved.

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#2 Sean
December 31 2008, 11:36AM
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Ya I was surprised how little Labarbera was worth. I guess Garon is worth more to the Oilers than a 7th rounder, in the event of JDD not being able to carry the mail or Roli getting hurt.

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#3 BUCK75
December 31 2008, 11:48AM
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Sean wrote:

Ya I was surprised how little Labarbera was worth. I guess Garon is worth more to the Oilers than a 7th rounder, in the event of JDD not being able to carry the mail or Roli getting hurt.

While I would like to still hold out hope that we will make a play-off run, I think it would be better if we parted with Garon. One of these days we will get a diamond in the rough with a 7th round pick.

While other teams in the west are hitting their stride, it seems our team is having a tough time finding the consistency to play night to night. I would rather part with Garon & see if JDD has the goods to play in the league with Roli there JIC.

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#4 Antony Ta
December 31 2008, 11:53AM
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Good post, J-willis.

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#5 Hockey Gods
December 31 2008, 12:12PM
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Good comparision Willis. I guess the only other thing we can expect is for Garon to be a throw in, in a multi player swap.

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#6 RobinB
December 31 2008, 12:17PM
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John: I don't know about nothing. If the Oilers play their cards right and get a willing trade partner, they could end up with maybe a fifth-rounder -- like Tom Gilbert.

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#7 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 12:24PM
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RobinB: At this point, I think that would have to be considered a victory. Of course, even a 7th rounder isn't nothing (sometimes it's Kyle Brodziak, or the price for Jan Hejda); but it isn't close to what most fans probably expect in exchange for a guy who was the starter last season.

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#8 Ender the Dragon
December 31 2008, 12:32PM
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I remember Pete Peeters being asked his opinion of Garon at the start of this season. While most of us were expecting a ringing edorsement, Pete instead said that he doesn't make judgements on any goalie until he's seen two solid seasons worth of numbers. Most of us (me included) poo-poo'd and thought Pete was just being non-commital.

Hmmm . . . maybe Pete saw something - even way back then - that the rest of us just hadn't had the opportunity to see. Unfortunately for the Oilers GM, by now the whole league has seen what Pete saw.

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#9 RobinB
December 31 2008, 12:33PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: A draft pick who turned into Gilbert or anything close to him would be a steal at this point.

Despite my insistence Garon needed to play more than 50 game earlier this season -- back when MacTavish had annointed him the No. 1 guy before mishandling him into oblivion -- he is the guy that needs to go, for whatever the Oilers can get.

Roloson has played better and is a better choice as a mentor for Deslauriers.

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#10 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 12:38PM
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@ RobinB:

Agreed, and agreed. The only problem with 5th round draft picks is that you're much more likely to acquire David Rohlfs than Tom Gilbert.

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#11 Cam
December 31 2008, 12:44PM
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On Sportsnet last night they reported it as a second rounder.

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#12 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 12:49PM
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@ Cam: http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=261400&lid=sublink04&lpos=headlines_nhl

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#13 Hockey Gods
December 31 2008, 01:26PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: And

@ RobinB: I agree with you guys about Garon having to go. I am not a Roli fan but he has been by far the better goalie to this point. But all of this does beg one question... What about next year?

Roli on a One year deal, or go the route of trade or free agency, or hope JDD and Dubnyk can carry the load?

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#14 Cam
December 31 2008, 01:32PM
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I think Dubnyk needs another year in the minors. JDD needs a mentor and I think Roli can be that guy. He is a total professional, and I love the cheap shots he gives to guys who are screening him.

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#15 David Rohlf Fan Club President
December 31 2008, 01:42PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The only problem with 5th round draft picks is that you’re much more likely to acquire David Rohlfs than Tom Gilbert.

HEY! WTF??

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#16 Bruthah
December 31 2008, 02:12PM
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David Rohlf Fan Club President wrote:

Jonathan Willis wrote: The only problem with 5th round draft picks is that you’re much more likely to acquire David Rohlfs than Tom Gilbert. HEY! WTF??

lol, nice work {applause}

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#17 mjsh
December 31 2008, 02:13PM
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From hero to Zero in short order. somewhat similar to what Rolly went through last year or Chris Osgood is going through again in Detroit or jose theodore has gone through a couple times or both the guys in Chicago and on and on.

At the beginning of this year, Kipper was awful and I was hopeful that Calgary had wasted a ton of dough on him. I do not think JDD is going to be the long term answer. I think Rolly stays another year and some other mid range guy is brought in next year.

I am willing to bet that Garon gets moved for not much and shows up decently for a while with his new team, just like Theodore did in Denver.

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#18 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 02:21PM
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@ Hockey Gods:

Free-agent or trade. I like Roli, but at some point age is going to get him, and Dubnyk's getting destroyed through over-work in the A, so it seems the only sensible solution.

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#19 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 02:21PM
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@ mjsh: That seems completely plausible to me.

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#20 rindog
December 31 2008, 02:32PM
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@ RobinB:

Mentor him on how to achieve 148 wins in 418 career decesions????

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#21 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 02:59PM
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rindog wrote:

@ RobinB: Mentor him on how to achieve 148 wins in 418 career decesions????

Because clearly, Roloson's low career winning percentage is due to his personal deficincies and is not caused by spending the vast majority of his career playing for an expansion team/the late-90's Calgary Flames.

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#22 rindog
December 31 2008, 03:00PM
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@ RobinB:

I am actually just being a smart@ss, but I think you get my drift.

I agree that Roli is playing well now - but hardly the guy that we want signed for next year (espcially if JDD is not ready).

At what point do we see if Garon is capable? Does our MVP from last season not warrant a serious shot at showing us he can be the guy?

Just curious, of his 7 losses (not counting the loss he got tagged for when he came in relief for Roli vs Detroit), how many of them did the team play great and Garon let them down?

Colorado Vancouver Nashville Pittsburgh Florida Chicago Ottawa

GAA and save percentage or one thing, but when you have fundamental "team" defensive breakdowns like the first goal against Ottawa last night (and all season long) - you can hardly blame the goalie....

Neither of our 3 goalies have been the problem this year...have they?

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#23 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 03:02PM
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@ rindog:

It's nice that you got out your caveat before I pointed to Roberto Luongo's 208 wins in 509 career games.

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#24 rindog
December 31 2008, 03:04PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Garon has played for just as many crappy teams as Roli has.

Garon has 27 less wins in 220 fewer starts. Their percentages are very similar and Garon is almost 10 years younger.

When the two played with the same team in front of them last year - Garon out played Roli by far.

Being the math/stats guy that you are - doesn't that count for something?

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#25 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 03:10PM
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Mathieu Garon this season:

Game 1 - Colorado: Made 31 saves, won 3-2. Game 2 - Anaheim: Made 33 saves, won 3-2. Game 3 - Calgary: Made 31 saves, won 3-2. Game 4 - Colorado: Made 21 saves, lost 4-1. Game 5 - Vancouver: Made 24 saves, lost 6-3. Game 6 - Nashville: Made 22 saves, lost 3-1. Game 7 - Pittsburgh: Made 15 saves, 5-0 when replaced. Game 8 - Detroit: Made 24 saves, allowed 1 goal in 4-3 loss (replaced Roli). Game 9 - Dallas: Made 23 saves, won 5-2. Game 10 - Los Angeles: Made 34 saves, won 5-4. Game 11 - Florida: Made 14 saves, allowing 1 goal in 2-0 loss. Game 12 - Chicago: Made 16 saves, allowed 5 goals in 9-2 loss.

By my count, that's 6 strong games out of 12 total, with two trainwrecks and some weak-to-mediocre performances in the other four.

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#26 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 03:11PM
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@ rindog:

There's six players on the ice. The goaltender is one of them.

In other words, when it comes to evaluating goaltenders, I don't put much trust in total wins.

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#27 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 03:14PM
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rindog wrote:

When the two played with the same team in front of them last year - Garon out played Roli by far.

And this season it's reversed.

Garon's going to be fine at some point down the road, but if I were a GM, there's absolutely no way I would entrust my hockey team to him as a starter. Garon-Roloson is fine because there are two guys who can do the job, but Garon-JDD is not.

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#28 rindog
December 31 2008, 03:16PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

That seems like a long way of avoiding my question? Which of the 7 games that he lost was he directly responsible for losing (I have my answer - but I am waiting)?

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#29 rindog
December 31 2008, 03:20PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Roli got 30+ games to try and prove he was as good as Garon last year. When it was evident that he wasn't - he got relegated to being the back-up.

Garon (our MVP from last year) got 7 games (3 of them stellar wins that the team didn't deserve) before he got benched for a month????

Are they really the same treatments? Have we really given Garon the opportunity he earned?

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#30 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 03:23PM
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@ rindog:

Games Garon was responsible for winning:3 Games Garon was responsible for losing:4 Games Garon played like crap, along with everyone else:1

That's my count. What's yours?

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#31 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 03:24PM
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@ rindog:

Garon didn't get treated correctly, IMO. That said, he's playing like crap now, and Roli's playing great.

In other words, I wasn't a fan of the coaching approach, but it would be extremely irresponsible to pick Garon over Roloson now.

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#32 topshelf
December 31 2008, 03:28PM
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Players, especially goalies, need to play in order to develop some sort of rhythmn and feel for the game. Playing 2 games then sitting 3 is not how this is achieved.

And as far as hasn't lost us a whole bunch of games, that isn't really the point. In the summer we signed JDD to a one-way. So at that point we were comitted to HIM and KNEW that we only need 2 goalies. This whole mess falls on the lap of management and their inability to pick a direction and follow it. (ie our so called rebuilding while signing 30 year olds for lengthy million dollar contracts)

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#33 rindog
December 31 2008, 03:31PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

I am talking about his losses.

Colorado - 1 weak goal, 1 fluke goal (we scored 1 goal)

Vancouver - (4ppg against, 2 bad goals)

Nashville - (3 goals he had chacne on - we scored 1)

Pittsburgh -(team as awful, can't blame him)

Florida - 1 PP goal against

Chicago - 1 bad goal(5th), can't blame him on the other 4 - team was horrible.

Ottawa - can't blame him for any of them

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#34 rindog
December 31 2008, 03:35PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

So if he didn't get treated properly - why are we wanting to trade him and keep Roli?

We have seen Roli's game (inconsistent at best) and we have a much younger goalie (with far more pedigree than Roli) that we are not really sure on.

Check this quote out from Roli himself:

"If you ask any player or any goalie, the more you play, a lot easier and a lot more comfortable you feel in that situation,"

So do we just give up on Garon now???

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#35 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 03:41PM
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topshelf wrote:

Players, especially goalies, need to play in order to develop some sort of rhythmn and feel for the game. Playing 2 games then sitting 3 is not how this is achieved.

Most do. Steve Valiquette and Manny Legace showed that not all of them do, though.

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#36 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 03:45PM
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rindog wrote:

So if he didn’t get treated properly - why are we wanting to trade him and keep Roli? We have seen Roli’s game (inconsistent at best) and we have a much younger goalie (with far more pedigree than Roli) that we are not really sure on. Check this quote out from Roli himself: “If you ask any player or any goalie, the more you play, a lot easier and a lot more comfortable you feel in that situation,” So do we just give up on Garon now???

Yes. Garon's never strung together two good seasons at the NHL level, and he's playing poorly right now. For the rest of this season, the better option is Dwayne Roloson, who has been very good (and far more consistent, not just this season but over his career, than Garon).

Next season, I don't want to see either of Garon or Roloson as the starter. Bring in a UFA (Backstrom, Fernandez, whoever) or trade for a decent starter. Either way, don't play dice with the most important position on the team.

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#37 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 03:48PM
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rindog wrote:

I am talking about his losses. Colorado - 1 weak goal, 1 fluke goal (we scored 1 goal) Vancouver - (4ppg against, 2 bad goals) Nashville - (3 goals he had chacne on - we scored 1) Pittsburgh -(team as awful, can’t blame him) Florida - 1 PP goal against Chicago - 1 bad goal(5th), can’t blame him on the other 4 - team was horrible. Ottawa - can’t blame him for any of them

You aren't going to win very often if your goalie allows three goals. He's got to shoulder a good chunk of blame in Colorado, Vancouver, and Nashville (especially Vancouver).

In Pittsburgh, the team was bad, but not five-goals-against-bad. If Garon hadn't been so poor in net, the four-goal third period outburst wouldn't have been for naught.

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#38 rindog
December 31 2008, 04:01PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Why Nashville? There were 2 clean face-off win, one-timers (one of them was tipped? You can't fault him on those).

The Colorado goals hurt (considering the timing) but we only scored one goal? Pretty tough to win scoring 1 goal?

How many wins do any of our other goalies have when we only score 1 goal?

Vancouver was indeed a BAD game by Garon (but no worse than Philly or Columbus for Roli).

As far as the Pittsburgh game goes - which one of the goals should he have stopped? That game is no different than the Detroit game when Roli got pulled?

I am really not trying to be difficult. I just want to try and understand from your perspective???

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#39 rindog
December 31 2008, 04:04PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Do you think these starters are just going to line-up to sign here?

Are the other teams just goingto let them go?

You might see some names on the UFA goalie list - but I doubt many of them will be moving.

We may not even have a choice in keeping Garon. MacT might have screwed him over enough that he won't consider resigning him if we want to.

We might be stuck with Roli or maybe Ty Conklin will come back???

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#40 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 04:10PM
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rindog wrote:

I am really not trying to be difficult. I just want to try and understand from your perspective???

My perspective is that Roloson has outplayed Garon this season, and is thus the better option. Period.

Think back to the San Jose game - Roli stopped at least five different shots that couldn't have been blamed on him if they went in. Every goalie makes those stops, except that this year, Roloson's made a lot more of them than Garon. So we can point to each goal and say, "well, that was too good a chance, we can't blame Garon," but to do so is to ignore that he's supposed to stop more of the good chances than he has.

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#41 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 04:18PM
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rindog wrote:

Do you think these starters are just going to line-up to sign here? Are the other teams just goingto let them go?

Anaheim has Jonas Hiller and J-S Giguere. Would Hiller be available for the right price? Probably.

Atlanta has Ondrej Pavelec demanding a trade or NHL time, and Kari Lehtonen. Is one available for the right price? Probably.

Boston has Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez both entering unrestricted free agency. Will one be available? Almost certainly.

Chicago has Cristobal Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin. Is one available right now? Yes.

Florida has Craig Andersson and Tomas Vokoun. Is one available for the right price? Probably.

Minnesota has Backstrom entering UFA, and Harding as a backup. If they resign Backstrom long-term, is Harding available? Probably. If they decide to go with Harding, is Backstrom available? Probably.

Montreal has Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak. Is Halak available for the right price? Probably.

St. Louis has Manny Legace and Chris Mason. Is one available for the right price? Probably.

Still, the kicker is that Jason Labarbera, with better career numbers than Garon year after year (including this season), went for a 7th-round pick last night. If that's the asking price for an upgrade on Garon, is there any reason whatsoever that the Oilers should settle for him next season? I think the answer is no.

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#42 RobinB
December 31 2008, 04:21PM
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@ rindog: I didn't take you seriously.

I'm not flip-flopping and saying Roloson should start opening goaltender schools anytime soon or that he's the second coming of Terry Sawchuk, but he is better suited to mentoring than Garon.

Roloson is dogged. He's focused. He competes. He knows how to prepare. He's a student of the game. As important, Roloson is supportive and a very good teammate in the dressing room on on the practice ice.

I believe Garon is the superior athlete and has better technical skills than Roloson, but if I'm making the call on who shows Deslauriers the ropes, it's Roloson.

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#43 rindog
December 31 2008, 04:32PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

I am not questioning Roli. I am questioning on giving up on a goalie that has hand a handful of bad games after being the team's MVP for the entire season last year.

We have seen alot of what Garon can do. Do we really know what Halak, Harding, Hiller, Rinne can do as a starter?

Do we really want ot go with a Legace or Vokoun? Or Huet at his price? The other guys just aren't an option. Unless Khabibulin will take a huge paycut (unlikely).

What is wrong with showing a little confidence in the guy that carried us last year.

It is staggering to me at the inconcistency of the management/coaches/fans when it comes to certain players.

All I heard last year is how we need to be loyal to Roli and respect what he did for us during the cup run. Why not the same for Garon???

Horcoff can cost us a goal (like he did last night) and he is still a god, but Hemmer coughs it up trying to making a great play and he is a dog.

It's wierd...

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#44 topshelf
December 31 2008, 04:35PM
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RobinB wrote:

Roloson is dogged. He’s focused. He competes. He knows how to prepare. He’s a student of the game. As important, Roloson is supportive and a very good teammate in the dressing room on on the practice ice.

The oilers knew all this in the summer so why wasn't something done then?

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#45 topshelf
December 31 2008, 04:36PM
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...about Garon I mean. oops

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#46 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 04:38PM
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rindog wrote:

All I heard last year is how we need to be loyal to Roli and respect what he did for us during the cup run. Why not the same for Garon???

I have plenty of respect for what Garon did last year. But starting Roli ahead of him was the right decision this year, just as starting Garon over Roli was the right decision last year.

Horcoff can cost us a goal (like he did last night) and he is still a god, but Hemmer coughs it up trying to making a great play and he is a dog.

Not sure where you're living. I don't think there's a single fan of the Oilers who doesn't appreciate what Hemsky brings to the table. And I note you don't mention the two goals Horcoff generated last night.

In any case, in the final evaluation, the GM should go out and get the guy that gives his team the best chance of winning. Does Manny Fernandez (as an example) do that better next season than either of Garon or Roloson? In my opinion, yes.

I'm always opposed to loyalty contracts (cough*Moreau*cough).

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#47 rindog
December 31 2008, 04:40PM
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@ RobinB:

I can respect that but is it the job of the starting goalie to win hockey games or coach players?

I hardly think Roli can teach JJD to become as dogged, focused, and competitive. Players usually have those skills or they don't for the most part(of course they can be taught, but to what degree?).

I am assuming that you don't think Garon possesses those skills and I will have to take your word for it.

But doesn't Garon's technical ability hold some weight when mentoring a young goalie? Isn't technigue something you can teach another person?

At 30 years old, I think Garon has alot left in him. He has just not been given a shot this year to build on what he started last year.

If JDD is ready to start next year, then fine. If he isn't we are going to be stuck with a 40+ goalie that has been inconsistent at best in his career.

Im scared....so very scared!!!

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#48 rindog
December 31 2008, 04:44PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Until this year - the majority of media and fans have put a caveate on Hemsky's play.

"Man, he turns the puckover alot!"

"When is he going to take that next step?"

He is 25 years old and has continued to improve his game every year. He has had to take a lot harder path than alot of the "coach's" type of players.

That is what I was referring to.

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#49 rindog
December 31 2008, 04:51PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

I didn't have to mention the 2 assists by Horcoff because I already said he was our best player last night.

The media was bagging on Hemsky at the start of the season becasue he wasn't playing great.

No one was playing great but atleast Hemsky was still producing offense (4 points after 3 games, 6 points after 6 games, etc). It wasn't until he carried us on the massive road trip that the Hemsky criticisms stopped. Newsflash - he still turns the puckover and still looks disinterested a lot of the time. The fact of the matter is, for the last 3+ years he has been our only consistent offensive player (no matter who he has played with) and is just finally getting a little respect.

I understand that when youare the team's best player you have to take some heat - but let's try and be consistent...

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