Time Enough at Last

Lowetide
August 12 2011 06:34PM

The Edmonton Oilers had a hole in goal, addressed recently by the acquisition of David LeNeveu (in photo). We've discussed it at length, and in fact it remains one of the very important items for the Oilers this fall. The elephant in the room is this: what if NK fails and DD can't hold back the water? 

The Edmonton Oilers have made many improvements over the summer. They've added Ryan Smyth to mentor the forwards and brought in some defensive help too. The major issue remains the goaltending. What if? What if the NHL duo can't get it done?

The club has veteran Nikolai Khabibulin under contract but he's hanging by a thread as an NHL option. Last season, Khabibulin's SP was 45th out of 47 "regulars" (he beat bruiser Rick DiPietro and Ty "2006 G1" Conklin) and was 71st among 87 goalies overall. His final number (.890) improved after a devastating start (15gp, 4.07 .879) buried the young Oilers despite young Dubnyk being 4gp, 2.99 .923 at the time of Khabiblin's November 2010 injury.

Devan Dubnyk has a real chance to be a solid NHL goaltender but is not a certain option. Dubnyk performed very well as a rookie. Of the 7 NHL rookie goalies who played enough to qualify as regulars, DD's .916 SP ranks 4th. Considering the team he backstopped (DD was just behind Corey Crawford of Chicago and ahead of Washington goaler Neuvirth, Los Angeles' Jonathan Bernier and the latest Flyer entry Bobrovsky) I think he could be considered as one of the best rookies in the class.

Yann Danis is the top AHL option and extremely likely to be the first NHL callup to the Oilers. He's coming off a solid KHL season and before that an impressive showing in a backup role with the New Jersey Devils. Danis is replacing Martin Gerber as OKC starter and those are tough shoes to fill. In his last two NHL seasons, Danis' play implied he might have the ability to play consistently in the NHL. I expect he gets an NHL chance sometime this season with the Oilers.

LeNeveu (photo at the top of this post) is a former Cornell goaltender (just like Ken Dryden) who was highly rated in 2002 (46th overall, selected 15 picks after Jeff Deslauriers). He's had some ups and downs at the AHL level and a couple of shots in the NHL. I don't think he's likely to see much NHL time this season, but should be considered a solid AHL option.

The best news of all is that Olivier Roy begins his career in Stockton of the ECHL. This is a quality goalie prospect, someone who has already shown well in the AHL. His improvement year over year in junior suggests this is a prospect worth paying attention to this year. If he pushes the AHL vets at any time, it should be considered a major progression.  

Time Enough at Last

Is this enough? No. Nikolai Khabibulin and his salary make it difficult for the Oilers to bury the contract at the beginning of the season. However, if these young horses up front are running well and the defense is cobbled together well enough I think we'll see a deal. Dubnyk will get a chance to start if and when NK falters and I believe the next option will be to recall Danis as backup if NK can't handle the secondary role.

It makes sense. Why would the Oilers force their best young men to endure another season of subpar starting goaltending. This fall is the last chance Texaco for Nikolai Khabibulin.

Time Enough at Last to find a replacement. Don't break your glasses, Steve Tambellini.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#51 ed in mada
August 14 2011, 06:23AM
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Saytalk wrote:

With 2 years left on Khabibulin's contract and with his past resume, management has to at least give him a chance and see what he has left. If he plays well, then he's trade bait at the deadline and we can unload the last year of his contract. But no one will trade for him right now before knowing what's he got left. If he still sucks, well then he'll be bought out next summer and the cap penalty won't be as bad as if we bought him out now. In any event, it's in everyone's best interest to give him 15-20 games to prove himself, even if it's in a backup role to DD (we can only hope).

I think Dubnyk has been brought along nicely with respect to his ECHL, AHL and NHL workload the past 5 years, especially considering the awful teams playing in front of him and the risks of blowing his confidence. He has shown steady improvement each year and it's now time for him to step up as an NHL starter. It's just too bad ST hasn't put a better defence in front of him.

As for Olivier Roy, it looks like he will follow the same development path that Dubnyk did in first getting lots of games at the ECHL level. If a first rounder like DD can do it at 20 years old, then I don't see why anyone would have a problem with a 5th rounder like Roy doing the same thing, particularly as Roy's confidence level can't be that great after the WJC and QMJHL playoffs. I think by season's end one of Bunz or Perhonen will overtake him on the organization's depth chart, so Roy's future is likely to be more of a AHL filler/callup anyway.

A reasonable analysis of the situation other than,because of his age, Khabby can't be bought out next year. I suspect next year they will end up paying him to play in the AHL or just to sit at home.

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#52 pelhem grenville
August 14 2011, 06:50AM
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...@ ed in mada

our goalie needs only to fare badly for a minimal amount of games in the NHL this year until such time as he becomes the starter in OKC...we agree on that but as for who's the backup i only wish we coulda kept Gerber for another playoff run...our goalie's the big question mark and i can only wish he wasn't...

may i ask...how's the weather in Madagascar ...what time is it there???

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#53 madjam
August 14 2011, 08:52AM
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justincider wrote:

Hannan signs one year, one million dollar contract in Calgary. This bothers me to no end.

What is most bothersome is how or why the Oilers may have passed on Hannan . There has been several others one wonders about as well . Do they feel what we have now is better than going after short term players like Hannan ? Same scenario when it comes to goaltending ? Getting a good read on management is difficult and frustrating at times . Same goes for our coaching . We seem poised to make a playoff run this season , but reluctant to make it happen at the same time .

Management does not seem to take well to criticizm , or those critical of them . I, as a fan , just want to see them put forth the best possible on ice product .

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#54 ed in mada
August 14 2011, 08:59AM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...@ ed in mada

our goalie needs only to fare badly for a minimal amount of games in the NHL this year until such time as he becomes the starter in OKC...we agree on that but as for who's the backup i only wish we coulda kept Gerber for another playoff run...our goalie's the big question mark and i can only wish he wasn't...

may i ask...how's the weather in Madagascar ...what time is it there???

Gerber play off run? You mean in the AHL?

Weather is lovely this time of year.

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#55 speeds
August 14 2011, 10:47AM
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ed in mada wrote:

A reasonable analysis of the situation other than,because of his age, Khabby can't be bought out next year. I suspect next year they will end up paying him to play in the AHL or just to sit at home.

My understanding, from reading at capgeek, is that the Oilers would be able to buy Khabibulin out next summer, but they wouldn't get the normal cap savings of a buy-out because he has a 35+ contract.

so, they'd save one/third of his money next season, 1.25 mil, but then have to replace him, and they'd have his full 3.75 cap hit next season (but no cap hit for 13/14 as would normally be the case for a buyout)

http://capgeek.com/buyout_calculator.php?player_id=265&buyout_y=2012&buyout_m=06&buyout_d=23

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#56 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
August 14 2011, 12:53PM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...a very well crafted synopsis Q...this team, even with all it's activity whirling around via our mr. tambellini back in June is most definitely on the that north south teeter tooter that you broke out with...i thought you might have done one of your "the sh!t flew, the wind blew and the old folks didn't know what to do" routines when the beaker offered justincider (love that name)his brand of how pretty sure he was...i decided to run for cover just in case...all of your points are well taken, from how our goalie could (and prolly will) poop the bed to how our newest number one pick could be sent packing for more fame and fortune in Red Deer...i worry dearly about the eager ben and dastardly darcy taking idiosy to another level and putting so much undue pressure on the likes of gilbert and barker after whitney toasts yet another ankle or foot or whatever wheel issues he still might have left...crikey then there's that 'sell the farm thing'...pass the razor blades Q

We've been through it twice already PG, nothing to fear here. Myself, i'm pulling for just one more lotto pick. If things go from bad to worse see what we can get for 83 and 89 at the deadline, then go really hard after Weber in July.

Wouldn't that be something, to go from a lottery team one yr....to the third round of the playoffs the next. Could happen if all of my wildest dreams come true....

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#57 turnover
August 14 2011, 06:13PM
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Habby is getting all the negatives out of his head. Positive move for him. If I had "going to prison" possibility in the back of my head, i'd have trouble focusing on the job at hand. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. He just might feel good about himself again. And play outstanding for the Oil. Hope he has a really good year.

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