The Oilers don’t have much in the way of prospect goalies, but it may not matter

Jonathan Willis
September 03 2014 02:52PM

Tyler Bunz2

With all due respect to Laurent Brossoit, Frans Tuohimaa, Tyler Bunz, Zach Nagelvoort and Keven Bouchard, the Edmonton Oilers don’t have a blue chip goalie prospect.

I’m not sure that it matters.

2013-14 Transactions

35-Fasth-2

  • January 15: Edmonton Oilers acquire Ben Scrivens from the Kings in exchange for a 2014 third round pick (63rd overall, Dominic Turgeon)
  • March 4: Edmonton Oilers acquire Viktor Fasth from the Ducks in exchange for a 2014 fifth round pick (123rd overall, Matthew Berkovitz) and a 2015 third round pick
  • March 4: Edmonton Oilers acquire 2014 fourth round pick (91st overall, William Lagesson) in exchange for Ilya Bryzgalov

The point here should be obvious: the kinds of picks that NHL teams routinely spend at the draft on second-tier goalie prospects can be traded straight across for legitimate 1A or 1B goalies who already have an extensive professional track record.

When the contrast is made, it’s tough to make the case that those picks ought to be used on the guy who if all goes well is going to take five years to arrive and may not ever show up.

30-Scrivens-8

Consider the pick traded for Scrivens. A few years ago, the Oilers used a very similar selection – 62nd overall – on a goalie, drafting Samu Perhonen, a big raw Finn with incredible potential. Perhonen was never signed, and last season was destroyed in nine games (0.864 save percentage) at the USHL level. In January, Edmonton expended the exact same resource on an NHL-ready goalie who is the front-runner for the No. 1 job in 2014-15.

80-Bryzgalov-11

Or, alternatively look at a deal that went the other way. The Wild dealt a high fourth round pick to the Oilers for Ilya Bryzgalov, who ended up being their playoff starter. Zach Nagelvoort is a pretty interesting prospect but if he turns out to be Bryzgalov it would represent a massive win for Edmonton’s amateur procurement side.

So, Never Draft Goalies?

Not exactly, no. A good young goalie can have some real value to an organization, and sometimes those guys are available late in the draft. Henrik Lundqvist was a seventh round draft pick; Pekka Rinne was picked in the (since-eliminated) eighth round as an overage player.

These guys can have value along the way, too. Petr Mrazek’s ultimate NHL future is still an unknown, but the 2010 fifth round pick has provided Detroit with an important third option over the last couple of seasons, stepping in at the NHL level when necessary and performing very well, all without any risk of loss to the waiver wire. That’s a useful guy to have in the system.

So yes, it’s still legitimate to draft goalies. It’s just important to remember that even during the season it’s generally reasonably easy to add a proven option, even a proven option with potential starter upside, for the same price that a team would pay for a mid-tier prospect. 

That makes it kind of pointless to get bent out of shape about a lack of prospect depth at the position.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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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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#51 The Last Big Bear
September 04 2014, 12:52PM
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If you are willing to go into battle with a 'decent' or 'pretty good' goalie, there's no reason to draft them high, or even draft them at all. Perfectly adequate goalies can be acquired easily.

If you insist on having an elite guy, you've got a tougher task. Getting a top-tier goalie is mostly a matter of luck. If you invest heavily in goalies in the draft, picking them early and often, you'll probably have better luck, but it's still a crap-shoot.

I think MacT has done exactly what he should have done, which is to identify good goalies with potential who are backups behind established NHLers, and then use non-1st round picks to acquire them.

Kiprusoff was the best goalie in the world in 2004, but was playing 3rd string in SJ behind Nabokov and Toskala. He was acquired for a 2nd rounder, and the rest is history.

Obviously neither Scrivens nor Fasth are in the same realm as Kiprusoff, but they were perfect examples of the same kind of prudent gambles that I think maximise your risk/reward ratio. A couple of these moves will reliably get you a serviceable starter, but they each have the chance of delivering much more.

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#52 pkam
September 04 2014, 12:53PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Fourth best save% of any goalie that played more than 25 games last year (played 36 games) - just .001 out of a three way tie for second. A potential elite goalie starting his first year as a solid number one.

First, Khudobin is .001 out of a three way tie for 3rd, not second. Rask is second all alone at .930, .003 better than the 3rds.

Scrivens is .931 in his 19 games as a Kings, .005 better than Khudobin and this number will put him 2nd, just .001 ahead of Rask. And his SV% and GAA in LA are both better than Quick.

Don't forget, Khudobin is playing behind a team better than the Oilers, especially the centre and defense, and is in the weakest division. Do you honestly think Khudobin can put up the same number if he was an Oilers last year?

All Scrivens needs is another 17 games with LA to prove he is as good as, if not better than Khudobin.

And don't forget, Khudobin was also let go by 2 teams before playing in Carolina, not any better than Scrivens.

Yet one is considered by you as on the cusp/may already be elite goalie only after 57 NHL games, the other is questionable even as a NHL starter.

I really wonder if you still consider Khudobin an elite caliber goalie if he is an Oilers.

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#53 Pucker
September 04 2014, 12:53PM
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To trade for a name, you're going to have to give up a name. I like Scrivens and I look forward to seeing what he can do (but I used to like Dubnyk too).

All I can say about this is that Craig and I are more comfortable with the goal tending situation going into this season than last year. Just on goal tending alone, the Oilers should pick up an additional 6 wins. And I think the attitude Scrivens displays will account for a few more wins.

For prospects, I don't know what constitutes a blue chip prospect but Brossoit, though not a sure thing is certainly an interesting prospect.

I think the depth of the organization has improved over the past 18 months and expect it will continue to.

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#54 Ed in Edmonton
September 04 2014, 01:10PM
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I see the big news of the day is the Bakersfield Condors are going with the puffy shirt jersey this year.

Let's hope this is a organizational change and that the Oil, Barons and Kings make similar announcements in the days to come.

Remember the old saying "If you can't beat them on the fashion show runway you can't beat them on the ice".

Long live Seinfeld.

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#55 Zarny
September 04 2014, 01:44PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Bishop was traded for Conacher with nothing in his track record beyond draft position to differentiate him from a guy like Scrivens.

Raycroft was not a starter when he was traded, Thomas was the starter that year.

Bishop had more of track record in the AHL but actually had fewer NHL games than Scrivens. The point was simply that the cost to acquire was more than a draft pick. Certainly no debating that Bishop was as unproven as Scrivens when acquired by TB.

And none of that changes the fact the majority of quality G in the NHL are drafted in the first 3 rounds.

Thomas only started 38 games the year Raycroft was traded for Rask and spent 28 games in the AHL that year. Thomas won the starting job that year but Raycroft was the starter for game 1.

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#56 Yakupow!
September 04 2014, 01:49PM
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OilClog wrote:

Could always do a "what if" series.

What if The Oilers start 2-8

What if The Oilers start 8-2

What if Nikita busts and we still have Ference

What if Petry and Schultz both struggle? Or play good? What's best for the team long term? Who gets us that elusive 2C?

Who should the Oilers be looking at shipping Petry or Schultz to for that 2nd C?

What if Scrivens is the goalie of the future, since he's about 20years younger then when Roloson arrived.

Alittle creativity and many things can be blogged about.. Just saying

Please do link to your blog where you've written on any of those topics. They sound fascinating!

JW: If Sportsnet is looking for more writers...this guy clearly knows his stuff.

Just sayin'.

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#57 Zarny
September 04 2014, 01:52PM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

If you are willing to go into battle with a 'decent' or 'pretty good' goalie, there's no reason to draft them high, or even draft them at all. Perfectly adequate goalies can be acquired easily.

If you insist on having an elite guy, you've got a tougher task. Getting a top-tier goalie is mostly a matter of luck. If you invest heavily in goalies in the draft, picking them early and often, you'll probably have better luck, but it's still a crap-shoot.

I think MacT has done exactly what he should have done, which is to identify good goalies with potential who are backups behind established NHLers, and then use non-1st round picks to acquire them.

Kiprusoff was the best goalie in the world in 2004, but was playing 3rd string in SJ behind Nabokov and Toskala. He was acquired for a 2nd rounder, and the rest is history.

Obviously neither Scrivens nor Fasth are in the same realm as Kiprusoff, but they were perfect examples of the same kind of prudent gambles that I think maximise your risk/reward ratio. A couple of these moves will reliably get you a serviceable starter, but they each have the chance of delivering much more.

I don't think many would argue that Scrivens and Fasth were good bets for MacT given the situation he was in.

I think the broader debate is your first paragraph. Philosophically, do you perennially want to be going into battle with a decent or at least unproven G or do you want a proven stud.

The answer probably depends on your expectations. If you are simply looking to be relatively competitive and have serviceable goaltending you may never draft a G.

If your goal however is to win the Stanley Cup history would suggest you want a guy between the pipes who was a higher draft pick. Whether you draft them yourself or acquire them via trade or UFA is another debate.

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#58 Ari Gold
September 04 2014, 03:13PM
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I think our goalie situation going into this year is significantly better than last year. Even MacT was hedging his bets before the start of last season.

Scribbles is the real thing. He's a top 15 tender in this league but has still yet to prove that he can play 50 games a year and be reliable. I really hope he and Fasth can dook it out well for ice-time.

If we started last year with this duo we wouldn't have ended up with Leon. So fine, this is where we are.

I do expect and demand improvement as a loyal Oiler fan!

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#59 TigerUnderGlass
September 04 2014, 05:19PM
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@Zarny

Game 1 does not equal the season, or, as I already put it, he was not the starter when he was traded.

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