It’s been a painful process watching the development of Oilers’ goaltenders. The most successful home-developed goaltender to this point of Kevin Lowe’s tenure has been Ty Conklin, and that’s far from a ringing endorsement. High draft picks like Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk look eventually slated for an NHL career, but it remains uncertain if either will ever become starters at hockey’s highest level.
Still, it must be more frustrating to watch a goaltending prospect develop well, and then make fun demands:
Ondrej Pavelec, the top prospect in the Atlanta Thrashers organization, will not be reporting to the AHL his agent [Allan Walsh] told Sporting News…
Walsh said Pavelec has options, including several interested teams in Russia or he would welcome a trade from the Thrashers.
“We’re evaluating where his next step is,” Walsh said. “He’s most likely going to get on a plane and go home right now.”
Among some of the choice quotes from Walsh:
“That is criminal mismanagement of a young goalie.”
“He will never be part of an organization that doesn’t keep its word and treats players in this manner.”
The reason for all this anger (at least, judging by Walsh’s statements) seems to have less to do with the assignment to the Chicago Wolves and more to do with his treatment during the pre-season. Pavelec got into his first game on September 25th against Nashville, making 36 saves en-route to a 4–2 victory. He didn’t play again until the third period of an October 3rd game, again against Nashville, but this time he allowed four goals on 15 shots, losing 6–4. Walsh’s statements indicate that Pavelec feels he never got a legitimate chance at an NHL roster spot, and given that he played a little over 80 minutes of hockey in the pre-season, it’s hard to argue with that.
Still, Thrashers’ coach John Anderson presumably knows Pavelec’s level of readiness, given that he was behind the bench as Pavelec and the Chicago Wolves won the Calder Cup last spring. Pavelec went 33-16-0, with a .911 SV% and 2.77 GAA in the regular season, and then went 16-8-0 in the playoffs with a .921 SV% and 2.34 GAA. All that and he’s a year younger than Devan Dubnyk.
While I tend to agree with Bill Tiller that the majority of the blame lies on the Pavelec side of the equation here (Pavelec knew in advance he’d be splitting time in that ugly game against Nashville, so he wasn’t “thrown into the game cold,” as Walsh claimed), it may very well be that Pavelec will force Atlanta’s hand. If that happens, would a package centered around Devan Dubnyk be of interest to the Thrashers? I’d certainly imagine that the Oilers would make a pitch if Pavelec were to become available, as he’s a clear upgrade over any of the team’s goaltending prospects in the last decade.
—Jonathan Willis once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. Then he started this blog. Now he writes for OilersNation.