More on Goalies

Jonathan Willis
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.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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 Chris.
June 18 2009, 01:23PM
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It's tough to watch a car wreck happening from a distant vantage point... and lack the ability to intervene. I hope Tambellini doesn't hand the keys to JDD...

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#2 RossCreek
June 18 2009, 01:24PM
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Been a few days, lots of new articles. Good stuff! Agree with your thoughts in goal. Given your names, I'd also take the same tandem. Kari Lehtonen would be another option, although he's in the 3+ range.

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#3 ScubaSteve
June 18 2009, 01:25PM
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Amen Brother, time to let the Roli ship sail. He's not worth the money, and he's not getting younger. I don't buy all this, "didn't play so lower miles on the body" a 40 year old is a 40 year old PERIOD. He doesn't have the reaction time or the left-right movement of most of the names you mentioned.

I'm not sure why the Oil seem stuck on Roli, out of the last 2 seasons, would you want to pin your playoff hopes on a guy with those stats?

He had 1 good year, lets be happy with that, and move onto someone who can 3-4 more good years, not try to ride out a horse that's ready for pasture.

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#4 Bar Qu
June 18 2009, 01:28PM
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I agree that the comments on Roloson re-upping at an increased rate are a concern. It suggests the Oil are not that aware of the goalie market and how much can be had at a very low price.

I mean, it is fine to want to bring Roli back if they think he is the best option, but I don't think this team owes him anything to want to meet his demand for more money than last year (based on a deal negotiated over 3 years ago).

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#5 BURKEtheTURD
June 18 2009, 01:30PM
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100% agree. I think trying to be cheap COULD cost the season. Goalie is such a vitale position, oils missed the playoffs by six points? If they had a better set up last year they easily could have made that up instead of trying out all the different senarios in the middle of the season before trade deadline.

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#6 Victoria
June 18 2009, 01:33PM
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Where did Matheson get that figure from anyways? Is it an actual fact or just his idea? That contract wouldn't make sense for either parties. It'd be better for the Oilers to sign Roloson on a two year deal for cheaper then to give him one year at a higher price.

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#7 scorecoff hemmercules
June 18 2009, 01:41PM
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If Roloson gets anything more than a 1yr deal at the same money the oilers are wasting their time IMO. I would love to see Roli hit the UFA market and see a team pay him more than $3MM, I would be shocked with that list of cheap goalies available. Go with Anderson/Harding Tambo, pretty please.

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#8 BigE57
June 18 2009, 01:45PM
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ScubaSteve wrote:

He doesn’t have the reaction time or the left-right movement of most of the names you mentioned

People were saying the same thing about Andy Moog at the end of his career yet he still played some good years by relying less on his reflexes and more on positioning. Not sure how old he was when he hung up the pads though.

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#9 Ducey
June 18 2009, 01:46PM
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Great Willis, just sign up Harding and Anderson. This isn't a hockey pool.

Does Anderson want to come here? Can they get Harding from Minny and who do they have to give up? Has either of those guys ever been a #1 in a major hockey market? How will they react? How much are you paying them in 2 or three years from now?

I don't want Biron. He isn't going to come here on a one year deal and we are stuck with his up and down play for multiple years.

The thing you are missing in all of this is flexibility. With Roli/JDD the Oil don't have any big committment in net. With the cap going down next year, and a continued glut of goalies, they will be even cheaper next year.

The Roli/ JDD tandem worked fine last year. Giving JDD 25 - 30 games ought to be enough to see whether he can cut it.

Roli was great last year. The ONLY knock against him is that he is old. A one year deal mitigates this effectively.

The problem with this team is not in net. I would be happy if the Oilers came back with the same combo this year and made some changes up front. Hopefully, next off season they will only have to address the goaltending situation. They will have the flexibility to do it.

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#10 KSC10032
June 18 2009, 01:49PM
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I agree with Victoria that perhaps we are all reading too much into Matheson's musings.

Just because Biron is asking for $4.5 mill does not mean he's going to get it -- from the Oilers or anyone else.

Same with Roli. He can ask for whatever he wants, but the Oilers would be a lot more stupid than even the biggest naysayers here think if they offered him even 75% of what he got last season.

40 years old is 40 years old. I can't see there being much of a line-up for Roli's services at any cost, but at over $3.0 million? Not a chance. There are simply better value for the dollar propositions out there, for all NHL teams looking for goalie help.

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#11 Tambi's advisor
June 18 2009, 02:02PM
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I agree that there are simply far too many (cheap) options for goal tending to even consider signing Roli. If the Roli/JDD show didn't work well last year, how do people expect that it will be better this year? JDD's young give him a chance? No thanks--I agree.

As for giving Roli a raise? Let him see if he can even find a starting position let alone at a discount with another team???

Goal tending is a concern for this up coming season. Tambi will show his colors in his decision making process for this position. In my mind, it will be somewhat of a litmus test for his tenure as GM.

Thanks for the good article.

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#12 Souby
June 18 2009, 02:02PM
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I can live with giving Roli a two year deal, as long as it is for $2 mil or less/season. I just don't see JDD as the goalie of the future, lack of NHL experience or not. He has weak AHL numbers, and hasn't shown the improvement to warrant even the back-up role. You would think that a young guy, hungry for a bigger role, would try to out work the old guy.

If they can tandem Roli at $2 mil/year and say Anderson at roughly the same, then I would be okay with it. It's not the greatest situation, but it could work short term.

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#13 scorecoff hemmercules
June 18 2009, 02:06PM
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@ Ducey:

I think Anderson/Harding was just an example out of the goalies listed above it, not necessarily those two for sure. I believe harding is the only RFA of the group so he may be harder to get than the others because a trade would have to happen. That said, I honestly don't see how we can't get two of those guys on that list locked up for the same or less money than Roli/JDD and have them fight for starting position.

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#14 Chris.
June 18 2009, 02:07PM
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@ Willis:

This all comes back to drafting (again). The Oilers burned premium picks on both JDD and Dubs; yet neither SEEM destined for starting roles in the NHL. I believe they were drafted simply because they look so huge in net (such is the trend); the fact that both lack major league athleticism was conveniently ignored... Guys like Scnheider, and Enroth were picked later than either Dubnyuk or Deslauriers, have posted better numbers, and are more likely to be starters in the NHL. (There are probably a handfulof other examples)

Prendergast's legacy continues to haunt this team... I hope the current management team doesn't waste too much of the season trying to mine some value out of another series of poor picks.

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#15 scorecoff hemmercules
June 18 2009, 02:10PM
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Souby wrote:

You would think that a young guy, hungry for a bigger role, would try to out work the old guy.

Mact is the only reason JDD didn't get more games in last season, he rode Roli like a rented mule.

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#16 Equinox
June 18 2009, 02:11PM
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I'm shocked that people think there is a goalie out there on the market that is going to fetch $3.5- $4 million. There are plenty of options and none of them outside of maybe Khabibulin will garner that kind of payday.

The Oilers should act as though it's a one year deal or nothing, then give him two years at $2.2 - $2.5 a season tops. Roli can play two more years and that cap hit is fine. Use another $2 million later in the season or make a trade with a team for a goalie like Giguere if tending becomes a real issue down the road which it probably won't. By then, they'll know if they can get a Top 3 forward anyways.

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#17 Chris.
June 18 2009, 02:21PM
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JDD looks clumsy in net. He overplays the shooters, drifts from his angles, and looks slow going into the butterfly. If he was even CLOSE to Roli, they would have played him more than six games.

All goalies who have gotten as far as JDD can look good or get lucky for short stretches. (Remember Morrison?) I don't like that Roli is seeking "elite" money any more than I like the notion of JDD playing more than twenty games a season.

A good backup needs to be able to start in the event of an injury to your number one guy... it's not enough for him to just be able to sneak out a win against weaker opposition on the second night of a back to back set...

In 2006 "Conkinen"nearly cost the Oil a playoff berth; those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

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#18 Souby
June 18 2009, 02:31PM
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@ scorecoff hemmercules: I agree Mac T was the reason JDD didn't play, but I don't think JDD made his decision very hard.

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#19 Reggie
June 18 2009, 02:41PM
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Souby wrote:

@ scorecoff hemmercules: I agree Mac T was the reason JDD didn’t play, but I don’t think JDD made his decision very hard.

I disagree, the reason JDD got stapled to the bench was MacT knew he had to make the playoffs. From a player development stand point it makes no sense to send JDD to the minors on a conditioning stint and then let him ride the pine ... WTF ? All he could get after that was a sniff in relief until the playoff hopes were done.

That had zero to do with JDD, that was coaching ... and I would throw in Pete Peters in with MacT about those kinds of goalie decisions. I am glad both are gone.

If saner heads would have prevailed last winter, we wouldn't be asking if JDD could play ... we would be saying ... who's his replacement or who is his back up ?

Instead, we have the exact same question marks in net we have had since Salo's game hit the toilet. Lots of questions and not many answers. Simple as that.

Oilers management needs to take a long term view on their goaltending and decide if their two blue-chip prospects (due to being such high pics) JDD and Dubnyk,are pretenders or contenders.

I know wins and a the playoffs make fans happy, but not testing your developing goalie for another year is very short sighted.

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#20 maverick
June 18 2009, 02:58PM
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Why the love for Roli? Yes he was good last year but if they sign him for one year than next year we are in the same boat! If this is really 'a overhaul' with a new regime why not solve the long term goaltending issues. Is it as simple as, the management really doesn't have a good read on JDD? Do they even know if he can be an elite or even a number one? The best choices as posted on here several times and also by Willis and Lowetide is Halak from Montreal or Harding from Minny. Not sure about you guys but I could live with Halak being our number one. Could you?

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#21 Victoria
June 18 2009, 02:59PM
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Souby wrote:

@ scorecoff hemmercules: I agree Mac T was the reason JDD didn’t play, but I don’t think JDD made his decision very hard.

I'd say it was the team's play that didn't make the decision hard. JDD has to develop, like all new NHL goalie do. For him to only get about six games and be criticized because he wasn't good enough, isn't really fair. This craptastic team was in a 'must-win' situation since before Garon was traded and, though I disagree with MacT's decision to not give JDD a chance, I can understand why he felt Roli was our best chance.

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#22 Chris.
June 18 2009, 03:09PM
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Reggie wrote:

Oilers management needs to take a long term view on their goaltending and decide if their two blue-chip prospects (due to being such high pics) JDD and Dubnyk,are pretenders or contenders.

The AHL numbers just aren't good enough. I know that having a poor team in front hurts the GAA... but the SV%'s are another matter... and neither "blue chip" prospect posted SV% numbers IMO that merit NHL development time.

Victoria wrote:

JDD has to develop, like all new NHL goalie do.

You bite the bullet and "develop" the Fleury's and the Price's of this world. Why cost yourself NHL games developing future waiver wire fodder?

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#23 Souby
June 18 2009, 03:11PM
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@ Reggie: I do not deny that the Oil need to come up with an actual strategy for developing their young goalies, I just don't think JDD is worth developing. He was sub-par in the AHL which is supposed to be the proving grounds, and the only reason he was on the Oil, and not the farm was because his one-way contract kicked in and he would have had to clear waivers to go down.

I am sorry, but while the amount he played was out of his hands, he did not deserve to be there in the first place. Agree with me or not, I don't care, but it is time to bring in some new blood to develop between the pipes.

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#24 Souby
June 18 2009, 03:14PM
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Chris. wrote: You bite the bullet and “develop” the Fleury’s and the Price’s of this world. Why cost yourself NHL games developing future waiver wire fodder?

Exactly!

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#25 Victoria
June 18 2009, 03:27PM
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Chris. wrote:

Victoria wrote: JDD has to develop, like all new NHL goalie do. You bite the bullet and “develop” the Fleury’s and the Price’s of this world. Why cost yourself NHL games developing future waiver wire fodder?

Because you're not always going to get a Fleury or Price and while you're drooling over them from afar, you might miss a gem. Obviously there's no guarantee that JDD is going to be good, but you can't just assume he's going to fail based off of nothing. Besides, the guy was drafted 31st overall, it's not like he has no potential. Look at Price these last couple of years, look at Fleury in his first few years, have those two been smooth sailing? No. Yet, you call JDD waiver wire fodder because the Oilers screwed him.

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#26 Chris.
June 18 2009, 03:31PM
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@ Souby:

Hence my comment on drafting. Prendergast used the 31st overall pick, and then the 14th overall pick (the following year) to nab two really big, somewhat slow goalies. Predergast then boldly declaired that Edmonton's future in net was "secure".... Problem is, years and years later NEITHER guy has shown enough to merit a good long look at the NHL level. When Roli was signed after the 06 run, the hope was that one of these two would be ready to start once that contract expired. Ouch! I'd understand if a 97th overall pick didn't pan out... or if ONE of either JDD or Dubs wasn't worth the look... but to have NO OPTIONS in net; to be forced into the tricky and expensive free agent market to look for a castoff starter... This is not a situation the Oilers should be in after paying the kind of price they paid at the draft table.

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#27 Reggie
June 18 2009, 03:44PM
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@ Souby: I understand what you are saying, but the point is the Oilers are no closer to making a decision on JDD than they were in Septemeber last year. They decided he was worth keeping and finding out ... i.e. they didn't put him on waivers and send him to the AHL, but given the playing time he recieved I don't understand how they can make that decision yet. So, the verdict is still out on him.

Unless the Oilers do an about face and do not bring JDD back at all ... we have another year of wondering about his future.

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#28 Victoria
June 18 2009, 03:54PM
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@ Chris.:

Do you think it's a mere coincidence that JDD's development has been slower then, say, a guy like Ward's (who played for only one AHL team)? It's difficult for a developed goalie to get used to playing behind different teams it's not exactly going to be a walk in the park for a guy who's trying to develop. JDD has never played behind one team for more then a season - that's an absolute joke.

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#29 Chris.
June 18 2009, 03:57PM
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Victoria wrote:

Because you’re not always going to get a Fleury or Price and while you’re drooling over them from afar, you might miss a gem. Obviously there’s no guarantee that JDD is going to be good, but you can’t just assume he’s going to fail based off of nothing. Besides, the guy was drafted 31st overall, it’s not like he has no potential. Look at Price these last couple of years, look at Fleury in his first few years, have those two been smooth sailing? No. Yet, you call JDD waiver wire fodder because the Oilers screwed him.

You can't just give JDD NHL starts and hope it will be okay. Based on his AHL performance, and current overall resume: JDD is entitled to nothing. He has to EARN those starts. I can assume he is going to fail because there has been almost no evidence to the contrary.

Carey Price is entitled to a rough patch in the NHL because he posted a .961 save percentage on his way to a gold medal at the World Jr's.... Carey Price earned a good long look in the NHL because he posted a .936 save percentage and led his AHL Bulldogs to the Calder Cup Finals. Carey Price's .936 translated down to a .920 in the NHL; good enough to get 40 starts his first season.

Deslauriers, on the other hand, since being drafted has been bounced around; was demoted for a time to the ECHL; and posted a .912 save percentage before being given a one way contract. Why? A .912 in the AHL usually translates below .900 in the NHL: which qualifies Jeff to be a tier two backup at best...

I want real players in Oilers silks this fall... not potential, maybe if only they had more oppertunity players.

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#30 Jason Gregor
June 18 2009, 03:59PM
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Brownlee just broke on air that Daum will be hired as head coach in Springfield. Expect announcement possibly later today or tomorrow.

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#31 Jonathan Willis
June 18 2009, 04:08PM
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@ Jason Gregor:

Awesome.

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#32 Milli
June 18 2009, 04:12PM
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I can't believe that Roli might get a raise. I want him back for 1 more year, but come on, he dosn't have any leverage so why on earth would you give him more money????

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#33 Captain Konami
June 18 2009, 04:12PM
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I couldn't agree more with this thinking and I wish we would apply it to our entire roster. I know there are other factors than just money (like a big name to sell tickets and show other notable players that Edmonton is a good place to play), but we need to be responsible with who we hand money to. In fact I'd be in favor of bottoming out for a few years instead of the race for eigth every year.

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#34 Boris
June 18 2009, 04:13PM
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Maybe there is a chance the Montreal would like a Francophone goaltender and would consider moving Price. After last year he is not a fan favorite....just throwing that out there.

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#35 toprightcorner
June 18 2009, 04:17PM
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Roli is worth $3.75 mill, just needs to be over 2 years, not one. If that is what Roli wants, let him go and when nobody signs him, his competitiveness will bring him back and sign him for $2 mill or less, nothing more.

I would rather sign someone else at 1.5 or 2 mill, if they have a good season, they can end up being a solid starter for many years. Even if Roli has a good year, yo are in the same position next year and have accomplished nothing, unless of course you hope to sign Lucky Lou. Maybe Tambo has a great realationship with Lou and has a chance at landing him. He is the ONLY goaltender at this point that I would spend big bucks on.

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#36 Chris
June 18 2009, 04:29PM
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@ Boris:

There was a rumor out there that Tambellini was shopping Cogliano for Carey Price. Unfortunately I think it was an Ekland... (So about as valid and connected as the scribbles on a bathroom wall)

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#37 The Menace
June 18 2009, 04:34PM
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At the beginning of last season, the odds that Roli would have the year that he did would have been tiny. The odds of him having that year, and then foillowing it up the year after with an even better one? Astronomical.

I love Roli, but I don't think there's any way the Oilers should be talking raise at all. No one is expecting him to outperform last year, so why should they pay more?

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#38 The Menace
June 18 2009, 04:35PM
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toprightcorner wrote:

Roli is worth $3.75 mill, just needs to be over 2 years, not one.

I couldn't agree more.

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#39 Chris
June 18 2009, 05:17PM
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Victoria wrote:

JDD has never played behind one team for more then a season - that’s an absolute joke.

The Oilers haven't done JDD any favors development wise... but that doesn't mean they missed out on a "gem". Great young players with exceptional talent often create their own opportunities.

Danny Sabourin is a guy who nicely compares to JDD. He's 6'4", a little slow laterally, and posted .940 SV%'s in the ECHL, .910 SV%'s in the AHL, and sub .900 SV%'s in the NHL. Now I know JDD is younger, was drafted higher (mistake) and hasn't had many NHL starts...

But let's look at that. JDD is 25; Sabourin only 28. Sabourin EARNED a look at the NHL level by winning 30 games in 49 starts with Wilkes-Barrie... Or did he? Despite winning the AHL Most Outstanding Goalie honors for that effort: Sabourin has only been given 38 career NHL starts. (10 average per serason) During that time, Sabourin posted an .898 SV%. and is now likely washed up at the NHL level.

Last season JDD was given a one way contract thanks more to his draft pedigree than his on-ice performance. Despite this tremendous break JDD didn't show enough either in practice, or relief to justify this huge opportunity.

On paper, JDD practically IS Sabourin; their career paths, style, and numbers are virtually identical. Three years from now, I'd be surprised if JDD is still in the NHL. I don't know why people think this is so unfair... Neither player has shown that he is good enough to play at the NHL level.

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#40 Worldo
June 18 2009, 06:03PM
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@ Ducey:

What happens if Roli starts to show his age, and plays like he did in 07-08, and JDD can't pick up the slack?

Then what do the Oilers do?

IMHO a 2 year contract with Rolison is out of the question. Why not try to sign 1 or 2 of the FA's, or try to make a deal for a more proven starter first?

@ Gregor:

Thanks for the info

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