Crowded crease

Jonathan Willis
September 22 2008 11:48AM

The Oilers goaltending situation just got a little fuzzier. The Sarnia Observer is reporting that the Oilers have signed tryout goaltender Andrew Perugini to a contract. Dave MacQueen, Sarnia’s head coach, had some kind words for the departing goaltender: "It's great for Andrew. He's a quality kid who got overlooked in a couple of NHL drafts. We've always been of the opinion that he was a top-end goalie in this league and never could figure out why he wasn't drafted." The terms of the contract aren’t completely clear, but based on the training camp roster, it looks like an AHL/ECHL contract. The Oilers goaltending depth now looks something like this:

  • Mathieu Garon
  • Dwayne Roloson
  • Jeff Deslauriers
  • Devan Dubnyk
  • Bryan Pitton
  • Andrew Perugini
  • Glenn Fisher

Garon and Roloson are assured jobs at the NHL level this season, and while pre-training camp reports had Jeff Deslauriers likely to start the season in Edmonton, that’s anything but a sure thing. Reports from the Joey Moss Cup are mixed, but based on Deslauriers’ track record the last three seasons, I don’t think there’s any real reason to believe that he is ready for a regular NHL job. Given too that there other teams with legitimate goaltenders going to the minors (Nolan Schaefer in Minnesota springs to mind), I don’t think that there is much of a waiver risk involved in sending Deslauriers to the minors. Even if Deslauriers stays up, I doubt that Glenn Fisher sees a ton of game action. Devan Dubnyk is expected to be the starter in Springfield, and both Bryan Pitton and Andrew Perugini are legitimate prospects who need development time. Fisher, on the other hand, is a 25-year old goaltender coming off a middling ECHL season, and I don’t think the organization can afford to give him many starts. Kevin Prendergast indicated earlier that the Oilers may chose to rotate the backup position in Springfield between Fisher, Pitton and Perugini. If I had to guess, I would imagine that the Oilers make Pitton the priority, given that he’s the only one of the three goaltenders on an NHL Entry Level deal. I’d also say that if the junior numbers are anything to go by, Perugini emerges as the best of the three goaltenders by the mid-season mark. Regardless of the situation, this is the best set of minor league goaltenders that the Oilers have had during Lowe’s tenure—there are four guys in the system with a legitimate shot at eventual NHL duty. —Jonathan Willis knows whatchoo talkin’ bout. He blogs about it at Copper and Blue, as well as here at OilersNation.

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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 Bob Arctor
September 22 2008, 12:42PM
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Lets hope Perugini plays at least a period of preseason action before being sent down. It would be nice to see what he can do against stronger opposition.

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#2 Tony Romo
September 22 2008, 12:55PM
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Man I am sick and tired of the "goaltending prospects" in the Oilers System. Here is a newsflash for everyone - they are all brutal. Thank goodness Lowe swindled LA for Garon or it would be Bulgarian Hockey in the nets for the Oilers.

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#3 Jonathan
September 22 2008, 12:58PM
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Man I am sick and tired of the “goaltending prospects” in the Oilers System. Here is a newsflash for everyone - they are all brutal.

Seriously? I don't think so. I'd say that Deslauriers is probably going to end up having a career as a backup goaltender someplace, while Dubnyk's probably a 1A/1B type goaltender down the line. Perugini is a really legit prospect, while Bryan Pitton is going to get a chance to show what he can do as a pro - he was a pretty decent junior goaltender.

Fisher, of course, isn't a prospect at this point.

I'd say it's a good bet that three out of those four get some NHL action, and that maybe two of them have good careers, and in the NHL that's great prospect depth at that position.

What they lack is a bonafide future-starter, but that's a pretty common hole in NHL systems.

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#4 bebop
September 22 2008, 01:03PM
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Has Dubnyk done anything impressive since he placed for the Blazers? Anything at all? Seriously, every time I read a write up on this guy, or read a post-game report, he's got his ass deep in his net and watches pucks fly past him. If anyone would care to correct me I'd feel a lot better.

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#5 Jonathan
September 22 2008, 01:26PM
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Has Dubnyk done anything impressive since he placed for the Blazers? Anything at all?

Well, he had a nice run with Stockton in his first pro season, and e had a rough year last year in a relatively limited showing with Springfield. He's still a question mark, but there's a ton invested in him, so I think everyone wants to see what he'll do with plenty of ice-time at the AHL level.

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#6 Jonathan
September 22 2008, 02:07PM
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As for Perugini, Guy Flaming just commented over at HFBoards that the Oilers have no official announcement to make, but he speculates that it'll probably take a few days to be made official.

Looking at the link to the training camp roster, (I wasn't clear above) Perugini has ** next to his name, the designation for "In camp on a tryout with a Springfield/Stockton (AHL-ECHL) contract", thus my guess that it's an AHL/ECHL contract.

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#7 RobinB
September 22 2008, 04:11PM
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Jonathan: You are persistent in your push of Perugini, if nothing else, but I'm not sure why you've been singing his praises for so long.

While he might be a longshot who pays off, there's nothing in his numbers or history that leads me to believe he's got the pedigree of Dubnyk or Deslauriers, and it's far from a sure thing either one of them will ever be a No. 1 guy in the NHL.

Outside of 2006-07 when he played 57 hames, Perugini has no history of being the go-to guy even at the junior level. He averaged 30 games a season over his junior career with 14-57-27-25 apperances. And MacQueen wonders why he wasn't drafted? Likewise, his save-percentages of .892, 917, .917 and 918 are OK, but nothing remarkable.

Deslauriers averaged 50 appearances a season over three QMJHL years with 51-49-50 in terms of games and percentages of .900, .888 and .916.

Not couting a three-game look-see as a 16-year-old, Dubnyk averaged 47 games a season with the Blazers, with a high of 65 games and had percantages of .907, .917, .912 and .912.

I'm not sold on either of them and even less so on the possiblity that Perugini will ever see the NHL as even a back-up in Oilers silks.

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#8 Jonathan
September 22 2008, 04:24PM
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Well, I like everything I've read about and seen of Perugini, but mostly it's the math that sells me on him - and your math is a little out. He's actually only played 3 OHL seasons, with 14-57-52 appearances, and ignoring the .892 he put up as a rookie in 14 games, his save percentage has consistently been at the same level or higher than Dubnyk/Deslauriers managed in their best seasons. Ditto Pitton.

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#9 Jonathan
September 22 2008, 04:30PM
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By the numbers, Perugini compares favourably with guys like Carey Price and Jonathan Bernier, and he's ahead of a lot of drafted goaltenders.

Granted, I don't think we're anywhere close to being able to judge goalies strictly by what we have (W-L record, sv%, etc.), but by the metrics we have, Perugini looks really good. I've heard positive things from people who've watched some of the rookie camp games, and I think he's a guy worth watching.

Of course, we'll see how he manages as a pro, but he really does compare favourably to other goalies in his age range, particularly when you consider the quality of team he's had in front of him.

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#10 Jonathan
September 22 2008, 04:36PM
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I also realize I'm getting long-winded here, but a bit of a correction on myself: Perugini had a very good Barrie team in front of him until last season; in 2007-08 Barrie, who he spent half the season with, was bad, while Sarnia was only OK. Given that he finished with similar numbers to the year before backstopping much worse squads would indicate improvement to me.

Also, to clarify my comment before, I think both Deslauriers and Dubnyk have the size/draft pedigree/performance to get at least a cup of coffee, and possibly have a career, but at this juncture I have my doubts about whether either of them will ever be starters at the NHL level.

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#11 doritogrande
September 22 2008, 05:04PM
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Bjorn Burling?

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#12 Jonathan
September 22 2008, 05:11PM
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Bjorn Burling?

I'm not sure that the Oilers even own his rights anymore - I've heard different sories, but I think that after two years, the draft pick rights expire, and he was drafted in 2006. He's playing this season in Sweden.

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#13 Dennis
September 22 2008, 06:05PM
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Nice to see RB talking stats;)

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#14 Cerebral
September 23 2008, 04:58PM
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None of these goaltenders are even decent AHL starters.

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#15 Jonathan
September 24 2008, 07:18AM
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None of these goaltenders are even decent AHL starters.

Jeff Deslauriers was fine as an aHL starter last season, and Dubnyk's .904 SV% wasn't awful either.

Fisher isn't, and I think Pitton/Perugini may need one year, but we'll see.

Needless to say, that seems like an unneccessary amount of pessimism.

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#16 Cerebral
September 24 2008, 10:45AM
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There can never be enough pessimism.

Fact is, both Deslauriers and Dubnyk are grouped in the bottom 10 or so of all AHL goaltenders in several categories.

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#17 Jonathan
September 24 2008, 11:07AM
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Fact is, both Deslauriers and Dubnyk are grouped in the bottom 10 or so of all AHL goaltenders in several categories.

How do you figure? Looking at this list, Deslauriers ranks 17th in SV% overall, and among starters (40+ games) he ranks 6th.

Even Dubnyk, who had a rocky season, is ahead of guys like Erik Ersberg (LA's #2 this season), Marek Schwarz, Yann Danis and Thomas Greiss.

These guys aren't turning into NHL-calibre players as quickly as expected, but that doesn't make them garbage, either. I doubt the ceilingo n Deslauriers and Dubnyk is as high as expected when they were drafted, but I'd be very surprised if both don't see game action at some point in the NHL.

And by the numbers, Perugini is a legit prospect.

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