June 18 2009 01:09PM
Jim Matheosn’s catch-all column today raises interesting points and provides Oilers junkies with some fresh news.
The first thing that jumped out at me was these two paragraphs:
Oilers veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson may get a one-year offer with a raise over last year's $3.66-million salary cap hit, but the odds of Edmonton offering more than one season are slim because of his age. Roloson turns 40 in October.
The Oilers aren't interested in Philadelphia Flyers goalie Martin Biron, who will be unrestricted on July 1. He's looking for $4.5 million a year, too rich for the Oilers' blood.
Maybe I’m the only one who finds that combination a little funny. Still, it fits with something Robin Brownlee said in the comments section yesterday:
There’s no chance, none, the Oilers spend a nickel over $4.5 million on both goaltenders combined because it’ll tie their hands when it comes to addressing holes at forward and mute any pie-in-the-sky talk about chasing a big name FA or getting into the Heatley bidding.
Taking all of this together, it seems clear that the plan for next season is going to look a heck of a lot like how this team functioned once Mathieu Garon was moved: ride the old guy (Roloson) and hope that the young guy (Deslauriers) can step in (we can assume with a fair degree of certainty that JDD will be back because of his small salary; particularly if Roloson is slated for a raise).
Needless to say, I don’t especially like it. Let’s assume that Roloson’s raise is a marginal one, and that he signs a 1yr/3.75MM contract. That means that the difference in price between him and Biron is 750K. Is the difference between the two goaltenders worth less than 750K? I’m not sure I like that gamble.
Biron’s eight years younger, and in his prime; Roloson, in contrast, is right near the end of his career. Biron has also posted better numbers in each of the last two seasons.
None of this is the point, though. The point is that the Oilers seem like they’re trying to be cheap and extravagant at the same time; cheap, in that they won’t grab the established starter without the question marks (age being the chief concern) and extravagant in the sense that they’re talking about giving Roloson a raise.
Running with Roloson/Deslauriers to start the season is just too risky. If Roloson plays well, everything’s fine and dandy, but if he shows his age, or simply plays like he did in 2007-08, the team is relying on Jeff Deslauriers, a young goaltender with a mediocre AHL track record and minimal NHL experience.
Everytime I bring this up someone says, ‘but he’s young, why not give him a chance?’ The answer to that is his AHL record. Deslauriers has played 137 AHL games; his career high in save percentage is .912. The year before, on a very good Wilkes-Barre team, he only posted a .908 SV%. None of that suggests he’s going to be a good NHL goaltender, and frankly it suggests the opposite. If he were going to be the confirmed backup it wouldn’t be a big deal, but if there’s a decent chance (and with Roloson as the starter there is) that the Oilers will end up relying on him, it’s simply too great a risk.
If the Oilers are determined to go cheap on goaltenders – and between Matheson and Brownlee we can be sure they do – let me suggest an alternative tandem. First, here’s what Roloson and JDD would look like cap-wise, assuming a 3.75MM/yr salary for Roloson:
Roloson: 3.75 MM Deslauriers 0.625 MM Combined: 4.375MM
Now, with 4.4 million dollars, can the Oilers get a better, more reliable duo? I believe they can. Even assuming that Ty Conklin and Mathieu Garon aren’t options, the Oilers could still lock up two of Craig Anderson, Josh Harding, Scott Clemmensen, Anterro Niittymaki, Martin Gerber or Jason Labarbera with that price tag. Personally, I’d be much happier with a Anderson/Harding tandem, because I wouldn’t be too concerned going with either goaltender. It just seems like less of a risk to me.