Building A Tandem

Jonathan Willis
July 23 2009 01:10PM

snow

Garth Snow’s rather surprising signing of Martin Biron drew a wide variety of opinion yesterday, with the consensus opinion being that Rick DiPietro is still a long way from being ready to play again.

Islanders fans have for the most part agreed with that conclusion, except for the small segment who hilariously (gullibly?) still believe DiPietro will be ready for training camp.

It seems pretty clear to me that Garth Snow entered July knowing that he needed a number one goaltender for at least the first half of the season, and he moved quickly but without wasting money, signing Dwayne Roloson to a two-year, five million dollar contract.

It seems safe to say that he was open to various options at the backup position, but with Martin Biron desperately looking for an NHL job, signing him was an obvious move. Not only does Biron provide the Islanders with likely the best backup goaltender in the league (or Roloson, if things go that way)) but if DiPietro recovers in time to play midseason, Snow will have the option of trading him to whichever team watches their starter get hurt or implode performance-wise.

Snow, in short, built a completely new tandem for a cap hit of 3.9 million dollars. If either goaltender falters, he has an experienced and successful number one to replace him with.

This is a different approach than the Oilers have chosen to take. Despite the total lack of value of even a decent backup goaltender (Alex Auld, who started and did well in Ottawa last season, was traded earlier this summer for a 6th round pick – despite a reasonable salary), they’ve elected to hold on to untested 25-year old Jeff Deslauriers. They also elected to grab the man who was, in their opinion, the best goaltender on the market in Nikolai Khabibulin – signing the 36-year old to a four year, 15 million dollar contract.

My question is a simple one – which approach is better? Which tandem would you, as an NHL G.M., rather run with next season:

  • Biron/Roloson: 3.9 million dollars
  • Khabibulin/Deslauriers: 4.375 million dollars

I think that the Islanders have more effective tandem; if either goaltender slumps they have a legitimate starter to step into his role. Edmonton, in contrast, will be relying on a goaltender that has yet to prove he can be a reliable NHL backup if Khabibulin suffers more injuries like the ones that have nagged him since the lockout. I think (and I realize this isn’t something everyone will agree with me on) the Islanders got the best goaltender on the market in Biron – a younger player than Khabibulin who has posted better numbers in three of four seasons post-lockout.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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.
Avatar
#101 Lofty
July 24 2009, 07:23AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Jason Gregor wrote:

In Edmonton, they pay 39% tax…in New York with state tax and such, a player told me it is between 48-51% tax. That is a big difference when you are making a million+.

Gregor,

Cost of living might as well add about 10% more to that 50%. Most of the Rangers live in Rye NY which is one of the most expensive area codes in the US.

I also would love to get paid in American $$$ and spend Canadian $$$

Avatar
#102 Payback
July 24 2009, 07:43AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

your question is an unfair one. Biron was not available when we needed to shore up our tending situation at 1.4. You can bet that contract was only signed because his agent saw their was nothing else out there and that they felt he might just be a starter if Roli falters. And you have to give JDD a chance, as you have said, if he falters there will be ample options for a reasonable back up like Auld.

Avatar
#103 scorecoff hemmercules
July 24 2009, 08:11AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Payback:

If JDD faulters, they will run Khabi into the ground just like Roli. I don't see us picking up another goalie unless Khabi goes down for an extended period. Besides, if we needed a goalie at some point Lowebellini would probably go out and get a dman or a plugger instead. They failed to fill the needs of our team during the season last year, I'm yet to see those holes filled. Either our management is happy with the team we have right now or they are against the wall and cant get a trade done with our craptastic trade bait.

Avatar
#104 Alon
July 24 2009, 09:05AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Victoria:

You should probably look at this, and then you might want to rethink what you said.

http://hockeynumbers.blogspot.com/2009/06/some-goalie-statistics.html

In short? Bulin owned Roli since the lockout. If these numbers are correct we made a significant upgrade. About a 19 goal difference. Not bad if you consider the fact that for the most part, the post lockout Hawks have been worse than the post lockout Oilers.

Avatar
#105 Alon
July 24 2009, 09:09AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ scorecoff hemmercules:

I don't know. I agree with Lowetide on this one. If (read when) JDD faulters, you can expect DD to get some big league time.

If you don't see DD, then maybe a trade for Harding?

Avatar
#106 Alon
July 24 2009, 09:20AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Jonathan Willis:

That phenomenon has always made me curious. Is it possible that some of his NW division numbers come from the fact he (for the most part) played on some pretty bad teams, that didn't match well against Pheonix, Tampa, or Chicago?

Avatar
#107 Shannon
July 24 2009, 10:22AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ 99thoilerfan:

I could have been the first poster a few times, but the pressure to be clever, witty and insightful is just too much pressure for me :')

Avatar
#108 Garett
July 24 2009, 10:53AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Burt the Dog is dead (E5)

Avatar
#109 Jonathan Willis
July 24 2009, 11:06AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Alon wrote:

That phenomenon has always made me curious. Is it possible that some of his NW division numbers come from the fact he (for the most part) played on some pretty bad teams, that didn’t match well against Pheonix, Tampa, or Chicago?

But they matched up well against Calgary?

Avatar
#110 Jonathan Willis
July 24 2009, 11:07AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Alon wrote:

Bulin owned Roli since the lockout. If these numbers are correct we made a significant upgrade. About a 19 goal difference.

19 goals over four years; one win a season. I think the fact that Roloson has a) been healthier and b) is much chaper and signed for less time makes up for it though

Avatar
#111 Travis Dakin
July 24 2009, 11:18AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Jonathan Willis wrote:

19 goals over four years; one win a season

And we all know how important that one win can be at the end of the season.

Avatar
#112 Jonathan Willis
July 24 2009, 05:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Payback wrote:

Biron was not available when we needed to shore up our tending situation at 1.4.

~You're right, of course. It made a huge difference, adding a goalie on July 2nd rather than a few weeks later.~

The Oilers have played 0 games and added 0 players. There's no reason they had to fix the goaltending hole right away.

Avatar
#113 Jonathan Willis
July 24 2009, 05:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Travis Dakin wrote:

And we all know how important that one win can be at the end of the season.

Except of course that the one win we gain is wiped out by the five fewer games Khabibulin plays while he recovers from his various injuries.

Avatar
#114 Chris
July 24 2009, 07:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Jonathan Willis:

You're getting quite worked up about this... But IMO: 1) You don't gamble with goaltending. Wait too long and maybe you miss out altogether. It was nice to see the Oilers address a pressing need quickly and decisively for once. 2) Khabibulin (even with that contract) is very tradeable. There are twenty-nine other GM's... and it only takes one. If Sather can move Gomez: anything is possible. Besides, a team heading into the playoffs with an injury/question-mark in goal might even give something of value up... 3) Roli was not a good mentor; and Biron has never performed at an elite level. My eyes are wide open, and my expectations moderate. If Khabibulin can play sixty games, stop an average amount of shots, and get hot from time to time: we will all chalk this debate up to summer time boredome.

The team with the most legit NHL players usually wins. It looks like whether it's coaching, sniping, or goaltending; Tamballini's M.O. is to go with experience, and a proven track record. It's almost like he wants to manage a "real" NHL franchise... I find it a refreshing change.

Avatar
#115 Jonathan Willis
July 24 2009, 08:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Chris wrote:

You don’t gamble with goaltending.

Which is one of the reasons why grabbing one of the five most injury-prone goalies in the NHL may have been a bad idea.

Avatar
#116 Chris
July 25 2009, 01:52AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Jonathan Willis wrote:

Which is one of the reasons why grabbing one of the five most injury-prone goalies in the NHL may have been a bad idea.

I share your concern: but I think the real issue is JDD... An injured Khabibulin doesn't count against the cap.

Avatar
#117 Anthony
July 26 2009, 02:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

The islanders are going to have the same issue as the oilers had when Rollie and Garon were a tandem. We all know how well that went. I guess the backup plan then was if Rollie falters then Garon picks up his game play. Its a similar situation I'm not comparing Garon and Biron I would think Biron is a better goaltender BUT with that said both Rollie and Biron as any professional athlete would be are competitors both would want playing time and to be No1. And who knows what goes behind closed doors in the offices during Free Agency if Tambs lost out on a No1 goalie just for waiting it out longer fans wouldn't be too happy.

Comments are closed for this article.