It has now been fairly widely reported that New Jersey Devils professional scout Bob Hoffmeyer was in attendance at the Oilers-Blue Jackets game last night. It’s also been reported that he’s expected to attend tonight’s match against the Penguins.
Sportsnet’s Mark Spector has the definitive column on the subject, which isn’t something I’m used to saying about Sportsnet writers.
Discussing the tandem of Garon and Roloson, Spector said the following:
Sportsnet.ca has learned that internal discussions are focused on which goalie would go… do the Oilers send Garon, who is younger at age 30 and makes just US $1 million this season, to New Jersey? Or does this opportunity mark a peak in value for the 39-year-old Roloson, who will make US$3 million this season?
Now, if this information is accurate (and Dwayne Roloson starting the last four games lends credence to it), Lowe, Tambellini and the rest of the Oilers front office are seriously considering going with a Roloson/Deslauriers tandem for the remainder of the year. It’s a bad idea.
Here are the three goalies, statistically, through this season and last:
2008–09: 2-2-1, 2.78 GAA, .915 SV %
2007–08: 15-17-5, 3.05 GAA, .901 SV %
2008–09: 3-3-0, 3.18 GAA, .895 SV %
2007–08: 26-18-1, 2.66 GAA, .913 SV %
2008–09: 1-0-0, 3.02 GAA, .897 SV %
2007–08: 26-23-5, 2.90 GAA, .912 SV % (AHL)
Now, the obviously tempting thought is what kind of return the Oilers would get for trading Mathieu Garon. If they’re considering trading him, I’d imagine a roster player or very appealing prospect would be coming back the other way, given that Garon was excellent last season and that his salary is extremely reasonable.
However, if Garon is traded, can Roloson and Deslauriers hold the fort? I’m doubtful. Roloson has impressed this season, especially in a 1-0 overtime loss to Boston that sparked his latest stint in the starting role. Here’s what Lowe told Spector about Roloson:
“It’s pretty hard for us to trade Roli right now, when he’s our best goalie.”
“I don’t think he had a bad a year as everyone said he did—his save percentage was above .900. It’s just that Garon played that much better.”
The one thing that seems absolutely clear is that Jeff Deslauriers is being pegged as the backup goaltender. Possibly it’s because the Oilers wouldn’t get any kind of return for him, or perhaps they genuinely believe in the player, but he’s been slotted as the backup since Day One of training camp and it’s now only a matter of time until he gets that spot.
I actually really like Deslauriers. He’s come out of a brutal Oilers development system, one where he played for five different farm teams, only one of which was an Oilers’ AHL-affiliate. The thing is he isn’t the kind of backup who should be employed by a team less than confident in its starter. Roloson and Garon both have pretty big question marks around them, and when one of them is traded away, if the one the Oilers keep falters, Deslauriers is going to be thrown into an ugly situation.
Garon has struggled early. He showed last season, however, that he can provide decent goaltending as a starting goalie. At age 30, he’s in his prime. Roloson, on the other hand, is at the tail end of his career, and had his worst season since 2001–02; the kind of season where he was outplayed, not only by Garon, but also by players like Peter Budaj and Nikolai Khabibulin, both of whom lost their jobs last season. Through five games, Roloson looks to have turned it around. Then again, in 2003–04, Brian Boucher posted five consecutive shutouts, so a five game sample really isn’t enough to go on.
Whatever decision is finally made, these doubts about Garon, combined with Roloson’s age, make it more than likely that the Oilers will have another new goalie next season.