Should the Oilers be looking at taking a goalie early in the second round?

Jonathan Willis
June 20 2012 11:10AM

It’s a decent year for goalies, with a trio – Andrei Vasilevski, Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk – all arguably under consideration for first-round status. The trio were all ranked in the top-35 of Bob McKenzie’s latest list and any of the three might be available when the Oilers pick early in the second round.

Should the Oilers use an early pick on one of them?

There’s a case to be made for all three.

Vasilevski starred for the Russian entry at this year’s World Juniors, and will probably the first goalie drafted in 2012 – the concern with him is that he’s a Russian who is actually still playing in Russia. I was blown away by him at the World Juniors; he’s big, and plays a patient, intelligent game. His numbers across the board are brilliant (including a 0.931 SV% in the MHL – Russia’s second league – a 0.922 SV% at the U-18’s and a 0.953 SV% at the World Juniors) and if he were playing in North America I wonder if he might be in the conversation for a top-10 pick.

Subban is the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, and despite lacking ideal size (various sources place him between 6’ and 6’1”) there’s a lot to like. Prior to going down with a groin injury midway through December he posted superb numbers in the OHL, including a 0.937 SV%. He wasn’t as sharp when he came back from injury a month and a half later, posting a 0.908 SV% the rest of the way. Red Line Report is harshly critical of his glove hand but does like his athleticism.

Dansk showed very well in tournament play but was only middling in Swedish junior (0.910 SV%) and he struggled in a brief post-season showing. Red Line raves about his down low coverage but criticizes both his tendency to play deep in the net rather than challenge aggressively as well as the fact that he “goes down in butterfly on every shot.”

If one of Vasilevksi or Subban were still around when the Oilers picked, I would find it difficult to criticize the selection – especially if the pick was Vasilevski. Both players managed outrageous totals over the course of the season and while I like Vasilevski better (bias of having seen him play live and in person, his size) I like the potential of both at the NHL level. I’m less bullish on Dansk.

With that said, the Oilers could land a pretty good goaltending prospect much later in the draft, the way they did with both Olivier Roy (133rd overall, 2009) and Tyler Bunz (121st overall, 2010) – goaltenders both tracking very well today. There are a ridiculous number of draft-eligible goalies available later on that could have careers in the NHL; I’d just as soon see the Oilers spend the prime picks on forwards and defense and pick up one of the following later on:

  • Patrik Bartosak – 6’1”, 181lbs, 0.915 SV% (WHL) – In his first year in North America, over-age Czech was Red Deer’s best goalie.
  • Corbin Boes – 6’3”, 216lbs, 0.916 SV% (WHL) – Over-age player won more than twice as many games as he lost; team had a losing record without him
  • Francois Brassard – 6’1”, 154lbs, 0.905 SV% (QMJHL) – Played well as the backup for Patrick Roy’s Quebec Remparts.
  • Jon Gillies – 6’5”, 203lbs, 0.915 SV% (USHL) – Huge goalie is college-bound, giving him a few years to work out the kinks.
  • Michael Houser – 6’2”, 192lbs, 0.925 SV% (OHL) – Over-ager was the OHL’s most outstanding player and the CHL goalie of the year.
  • Joonas Korpisalo – 6’2”, 163lbs, 0.920 SV% (Fin. U20) – Very similar numbers to Samu Perhonen last year; more likely to be a late-round flyer.
  • Marek Langhamer – 6’2”, 177lbs, 0.909 SV% (Cze. U20) – His numbers actually dipped a bit from last year’s very good Czech junior showing.
  • Andrei Makarov – 6’1”, 178 lbs, 0.913 SV% (WHL) – Overage goalie was very impressive at the World Juniors; RLR likes him as a second-round pick but he’s likely to go much lower.
  • Anthony Stolarz – 6’5”, 200lbs, 0.920 SV% (NAHL) – Big goalie crushed second-tier opponents.
  • Brandon Whitney – 6’5”, 191lbs, 0.896 SV% (QMJHL) – Went 22-4-4 on a high-octane Victoriaville team; co-goalie was a 3rd-round pick last year and posted 0.885 SV%.
  • Roman Will – 6’1”, 188lbs, 0.913 SV% (QMJHL) – Over-ager crushed Czech junior league for years without getting drafted, was a first-team QMJHL all-star this year. Has the coolest name in the history of the universe.

Goaltending projection is witchcraft, and the Oilers recent habit of adding a goalie late every year via the draft is, in my opinion, exactly the right way to go about addressing the position. Unless Vasilevski somehow falls to the second round.

This week by Jonathan Willis

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.
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#1 Cody anderson
June 20 2012, 11:21AM
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Would not draft a goalie in the fist round. If Vasilevki drops to second and they have talked to him and believe he will come to Canada he would be worth the risk.

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#2 The Soup Fascist
June 20 2012, 11:25AM
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Yes. They should draft a goalie. As long as he is also a big tough center or solid d man with top 4 potential.

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#3 TrentonL
June 20 2012, 11:27AM
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Good analysis, too much potential to get burnt picking a goalie too early when prime forward/defence talent is still available.

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#4 IfBruceLeeWasAnOiler
June 20 2012, 11:27AM
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I wonder if the "Russian Factor" is more prevelent when it comes to Vasilevksi

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#5 Archaeologuy
June 20 2012, 11:31AM
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I dont know. I could take a year off on selecting a Goalie before the 5th round. Keep hoping for homeruns at D.

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#6 G Money
June 20 2012, 11:33AM
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@JW:

Completely with you - as good as Vasilevski, Subban and Dansk look now, history clearly indicates that translating that to NHL success is a crapshoot at best.

In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if this isn't just a matter of 'witchcraft' projection, but an actual development effect.

Here's my theory:

If a goalie is drafted in the first round, there is immense pressure on them (fair or not) to become an NHL-player early. So they never get as much chance to develop their skills and experience before being tossed in the NHL frying pan. Facing NHL shooters without matured skills or experience, they get lit up. Confidence drops. Development regresses. A promising career derails.

On the other hand, a late drafted goalie (like Bunz or Roy) has no such pressure. They can stay in junior as long as allowed. They move from junior to the ECHL (or the SEL, or wherever). Then, if/when they excel at that level, they move into a backup role in the AHL. Then into a starters role. And if they excel there, into a backup role in the NHL. And then lo and behold, suddenly your 26-year old goalie, in his second year but with 8 years of development, is a starter, and maybe a star.

I haven't done the analysis to see if there's truth to this, but anecdotally I can think of distinct examples of both the former (e.g. Montoya) and the latter (e.g. Kipper).

If this is the case, maybe the issue isn't one of where the goalie is drafted or how they are projected, but whether they are given the time - as in *years* - to properly develop their game to a pro level.

Thoughts?

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#7 Pronger's Wife
June 20 2012, 11:34AM
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We use that 1st pick in 2nd round to take more D. Still think Tyler Bunz is our goalie of the future though.

Really wish we had a young guy backing up Dubnyk for next season instead of Khabibulin taking up space on the bench - or even worse, playing. Of course, it's still up in the air as to whether Dubnyk can carry the load as a starter also.

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#8 Cody anderson
June 20 2012, 11:43AM
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If Samuelsson is available I would have a hard time passing him up unless you are confident the goalie you pick will be at very least a quality backup in the NHL in 2-3 years which is a pretty big gamble.

With the 2nd round pick I want size, grit, and skill. Obviously, if a big, gritty, skilled player is available in the second round there are questions or holes in his current game.

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#9 Neilio
June 20 2012, 11:49AM
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Naw don't waste a high pick. Just select a goalie in the late rounds every year and one is bound to turn out good. Goalie picking is pretty random anyway.

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#10 Kodiak
June 20 2012, 11:51AM
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No. We have Bunz and Roy in the system that are tracking well. I'd be picking another D prospect or Samuelson if he's still available.

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#11 Alan Hull
June 20 2012, 11:52AM
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I have Makarov in mind for a later round pick.

Would rather see them focus on replenishing the forward crop early in the draft.

Drafting goalies with mid-late round picks has been working for them the last few years.

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#12 Cody anderson
June 20 2012, 12:27PM
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The guys i would be interested in are;

Henrik Samuelsson Stefan Matteau Brady Skeji Michael Matheson Ludwig Bystrom Colton sissons Jordan Schmaltz Nicolas Kerdiles Mark Jankoswki Damon severson Brian Hart Patrick Sieloff

I would attempt to trade our 2 3rd round picks for a second high 2nd rounder or include both our 2nd round picks and one 3rd rounder for an additional 1st rounder and a mid second rounder

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#13 Bob Cob
June 20 2012, 12:48PM
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Drafting a goalie any earlier than the 3rd round is like drafting a placekicker before your last pick in a fantasy football draft.

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#14 Dog Train
June 20 2012, 01:12PM
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I would rather wait and pick up a goalie later (preferably Makarov). I live in Saskatoon and can honestly say that he carried us for most of the season. Braden Holtby did the same thing for us and ended up going in the fourth round I believe.

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#15 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
June 20 2012, 01:23PM
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Forwards in round 1/2

Defense in round 3/4

Goalies in round 5/6

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#16 vetinari
June 20 2012, 01:25PM
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They should take at least one goalie sometime during the draft, but I think that it can wait until the 4th round or later unless there is someone glaring at you on your draft list at that draft position.

If Vasilevski (or whoever) is there at #32 and there are no defenceman or forwards that you prefer, take the goalie. However, there are other goalies on your list that look like they could fit the Bunz and Roy mold, so patience is fine. The key with goalies seems to be development and opportunity, and MacGregor seems to be good at finding guys who are excellent late round goalie prospects with potential.

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#17 Team Hall
June 20 2012, 01:29PM
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You got it wrong, JW. The second round is where you pick top flite dmen, the 4th round is where you find the worlds best goalies, hey John Quick?

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#18 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 20 2012, 01:35PM
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A redneck fisherman accidently puts 5 bullet holes in the bottom of his fishing boat. He soon realizes he only has 3 wine bottle corks in which to plug those five holes. Which three holes are the most important?

2 top 6 forwards, 2 top pairing blueliners, as well as a goaltender. Without these 5 holes filled, our Oilers will continue to founder.

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#19 madjam
June 20 2012, 02:14PM
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Enough goalies in system already . I don't forsee one being drafted by us unless it is in third round . Gagner and Smyth at premium rates frankly are not going to help our future stars emerging . Time to cut ties with overpaid contracts while moving forward (contracting fiscal output where possible rather than adding to the problem ) . Faired better under Lowe quite frankly when he was under a restricted budget .

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#20 Ronald
June 20 2012, 02:14PM
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I've read all the comments and still don't understand why any one thinks that we need another goalie in our system. Both Bunz and Roy are progressing as they should and by the time we need a new goaltender one or both of them could be ready to take the job. So why waste a pick on a goalie when we have other pressing needs that could be fixed by using the pick as part of a package for some needed help on our blue - line??

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#21 dohfOs
June 20 2012, 02:50PM
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The big + with Dansk (the irony: "Dansk" is Swedish for "Danish") is that he will be (confirmed officially) crossing the pond this year hoping to join up with the preferred junior-team of whichever NHL-team draft him. As in.. if the Oilers draft him he'll most likely represent the Oil Kings the coming seasons.

With that said, I'm personally not big on Dansk. If they go with a goalie, let it be the Russian (Yak will convince him to join him in Canada hrhr). Still hoping for Samuelsson though, pretty much the lone Swede I'm hoping for this coming draft. Said it before but I know for a fact he wants to remain in the city of Edmonton.

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#22 Drinkin' the Oilaid
June 20 2012, 03:00PM
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Considering the Oilers have a second year pro, a first year pro in Bunz, and a Euro who was drafted only last year, I think it's highly unlikely the Oilers take a flyer on a goalie. However, I do believe the Oilers will keep BPA in mind, and if they like a goalie better in the late rounds than the available Dmen and forwards, then you take the goalie. I just don't think that happens at 32.

That said, the college-bound Gillies might be an interesting pick: a draft-and-follow selection, and it keeps the Oil from having to find roster space for the pick within two years. Considering the 50-man roster crunch the Oilers are starting to face, I would expect them to take that route with at least one pick this year. Might we see the Oil move a pick or two in order to find some NHL level players this summer?

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#23 vetinari
June 20 2012, 03:06PM
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You can never have enough quality goaltending and defence prospects in a system. At the least, you can use some of them as leverage in future trades and fill holes on your roster.

As an aside, TSN posted its first round mock draft projections and they have about three of the goalies listed going in the top 30 at #24 (Boston), #26 (Vancouver) and #30 (LA)-- Presumably because Thomas, Luongo and Bernier may be moving out of their systems this year and they each need to replenish.

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#24 David S
June 20 2012, 03:14PM
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No. There's no shortage of decent goalies every year. Even if you DO draft a goalie, they mature at about the same rate as it took to build the pyramids, during which time you could have picked one up as a FA. Let the suckers develop goalies. We'll pick 'em up when their first contract expires.

/thread

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#25 Clyde Frog
June 20 2012, 04:42PM
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Just look at all the hot prospect goalies that didn't pan out each and every year... Unless you have a crystal ball, it tends to be a losing proposition to spend high picks on them.

I would rather trade that 2nd or 3rd rounder to LA or Nashville for their goalie development team.

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#26 Bucknuck
June 20 2012, 05:41PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

A redneck fisherman accidently puts 5 bullet holes in the bottom of his fishing boat. He soon realizes he only has 3 wine bottle corks in which to plug those five holes. Which three holes are the most important?

2 top 6 forwards, 2 top pairing blueliners, as well as a goaltender. Without these 5 holes filled, our Oilers will continue to founder.

That's a good way of putting it.

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#27 yawto
June 20 2012, 05:55PM
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Nuge for calder. Ebs for byng.

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#28 Smokey
June 20 2012, 06:38PM
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Oil need to get back to drafting some Coke Machines. Biggest need after 2nd line pivot and first pairing rearguard is some quick skating, gritty coke dispensers.

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#29 David S
June 20 2012, 06:48PM
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Smokey wrote:

Oil need to get back to drafting some Coke Machines. Biggest need after 2nd line pivot and first pairing rearguard is some quick skating, gritty coke dispensers.

Mother of god.

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#30 OilDieHard
June 20 2012, 07:10PM
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if one of Vasilievski, Dansk or Subban is still there at #32, we should take one. problem is....Columbus at #31 surely is looking for a goalie at that spot as well, and New Jersey at #29 could be too. if another team like Phoenix is looking at #27, those 3 could be long one by the time our turn is up at the top of the second round.

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#31 OilDieHard
June 20 2012, 07:13PM
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though i would still be fairly happy if the Oil waited 'till the 3rd round and tried for one of Korpisalo, Whitney, Gillies, Stolarz, Makarov or Houser.

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#32 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 20 2012, 08:05PM
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@ David S

All of the Coke machines the Oilers draft can't continually keep turning into, well, Coke machines.

One has to turn out sooner or later. I'm more of a Pepsi guy myself.

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#33 Henry
June 20 2012, 08:12PM
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Mr Willis, I don't see the need gor a goalie with this pick. Actually I think it may be best to move the pick for the top 4 Dguy we all want. I like the stuff you've published on the ej on possible D to pickup. San Jose is in bad cap shape. What do you all think about a package of the second and some cheap depth for Vlasic. He'd need to be signed but he's pretty dependable.

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#34 ubermiguel
June 20 2012, 09:11PM
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The Senators absolutely have to draft Roman Will. And put his full name on his jersey.

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#35 gcw_rocks
June 21 2012, 08:08AM
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If Samuelsson is off the board, I would have no trouble with the Russian or Dansk in the second round.

Good goaltending can cover a myriad of sins elsewhere in the line up, and expose them greatly when its not there.

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