A backyard find?

Aaron Sorochan’s name isn’t on the tip of anybody’s tongue when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers goaltending situation, but it looks from where I sit like he should at least be part of the discussion.

With the pecking order in the Oilers goal crease up in the air and unproven prospects — or is it suspects? — Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk at the front of the line, as of now, to take over from Dwayne Roloson, Sorochan is sitting right under the noses of Oilers management.

The homegrown stopper, a two-time CIS all-star who backstopped the Alberta Golden Bears to two national titles, has finished his studies at the University of Alberta and is looking for a place to play.

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Besides, it’s not like the Oilers don’t know about the 25-year-old Sorochan — they invited him to camp a few years ago and even signed him to an amateur tryout contract in December 2007 to back up Mathieu Garon against New Jersey after Roloson was shelved by the flu.

So, with no Vezina Trophy candidates in the organizational fold, wouldn’t it make sense for the Oilers to take a second look and maybe invite Sorochan to training camp this fall?

I think it would.

Late bloomer

Sorochan is the epitome of a late-bloomer.

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While it might be a stretch to compare Sorochan straight-up to Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins — Thomas was a ninth-round selection of Quebec in 1994 and rattled around the pros for more than a decade before grabbing the starting job in Beantown — there are similarities.

Sorochan wasn’t even drafted after three lousy seasons in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders.

In 2000-01 with Prince Albert, he was 4-12-0 with a swollen 5.26 goals-against average and .870 saves percentage. In 2001-02, he was 12-20-1 with a 4.50 and .875. In this third season with Prince Albert, 2002-03, Sorochan was 15-27-2 with 3.64 and .877. Thanks for coming.

By the time Sorochan got it together with the Vancouver Giants in 2003-04, going 23-14-7 with a 2.37 GAA and .919 saves percentage, and Lethbridge in 2004-05, posting a 35-19-8 record with a 2.19 and .917, it was Alberta, not a line-up of NHL teams, who showed the most interest.

Now’s the time

Suffice to say, Sorochan blossomed with the Bears. After four years at Alberta, a tenure including CIS rookie of the year honors, the two all-star selections and two national titles, Sorochan is ready to move on.

Sorochan finished the 2008-09 CIS season with a 23-6-0 record, a 2.03 GAA and a .922 save percentage. He led the CIS in GAA and save percentage and finished his career at Alberta with a record of 97-27-2 in 130 games. What’s not to like?

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Obviously, GM Steve Tambellini has more pressing matters on his plate than adding Sorochan to his goaltending mix — I wonder if fired Calgary hard case Mike Keenan gets a job interview? — but it’s worth contemplating.

Now, having tried to find out what’s up with the coaching situation, I know nobody is talking. Fine. But, with a potential gem like Sorochan sitting in the shadows of Rexall Place and looking for a gig, here’s hoping somebody with a say in the training camp roster is listening.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.


  • BigE57

    He's absolutely worth an invite to training camp and possibly a spot in the minors. Some of the best goalies seem to come out of nowhere and the Oilers are more than due to find a diamond in the rough.

  • Zdeno Ciger

    Regarding Keenan, no thanks.
    I don't think he'd be a good fit for a young, fragile team like the Oilers.

    It does heat up the discussions as to where Brent Sutter will end up though….

  • Librarian Mike

    Considering how many people think that Swedish dude (sorry, I can't remember his name and can't be bothered to look it up) would be an immediate star here based on a Youtube video, I don't see the harm in having a look at Sorochan. It's not like he's taking a spot from a blue chip prospect.

  • Robin Brownlee

    @ Librarian Mike:
    There's nothing to lose.
    The thing is, I'm not so sure Sorochan isn't further along in terms of development than Dubnyk is right now.
    At worst, I see Sorochan as somebody who could step in and play at the AHL level right now. At best . . ?

  • Illya Biakin

    oilerzz wrote:

    Keenan to Edmonton and Mac T to Calgary … now that would be breaking news !!

    The Flames are a team that MacT can coach, his type of team, grit with no skill, that includes Iginla.

  • BigE57

    Illya Biakin wrote:

    As long as Roli is not back, the Oilers will be better off, hell Markkenan will be better in the dressing room. Just let Roli walk.

    Really? The guy carries the load and you want Jussi Markennen back. In case you haven't noticed there aren't many big name goaltenders on the market.

    Roloson has proven himself more than adequate as a starter. If Roloson is brought back to play 60% of the games and help develop JD than the Oilers will be doing themselves a favour and saving themselves some money.

    And frankly, I don't really care if my goalie is good in the dressing room as long as he isn't a detriment.

  • MattL

    oilerzz wrote:

    Keenan to Edmonton and Mac T to Calgary … now that would be breaking news !!

    I know from someone who spoke with Sutter back in the winter of 2006 when it looked like MacT and KLowe were on their last legs, Sutter thinks very highly of Craig MacTavish. If his other brother Darryl (Brent) doesn't already have the job, I bet MacT gets a look at least.

  • JP

    For those not too familiar with Zorro's background.

    His three years in PA were when the Raiders were arguabley the worst junior franchise in Canada. Freshly robbed of Scott Hartnell, Sivek, and Milan Kraft who were to replace the graduating players. In his draft year he was ranked by the CSB, the Raiders rode him for the first half of the season and burned him out, then rode his backup the rest of the season.

    He got new life in Vancouver, where for the first time in three junior seasons he had a goalie coach. He blossomed in Vancouver only to be bumped by Marek Schwartz in his 20 year old year.

    On to Lethbridge where he continued to dominate and as an all star.

    Now where NHL managers and scouts complain about the 18 year old draft being too young to get a good read on a player and wanting a 20 year old draft? Well, they still look at the 18 year old year as the measuring stick, no matter what you do as a 19 year old. This is where he fell through the cracks.

    Before the U of A the Oilers had him at rookie camp and a rumoured AHL-ECHL deal was on the table which he could take or go to school and honour a commitment to the U of A and Rob Daum… Eric Thurston as it turned out.

    In my humble opinion if the depth chart is Roloson, Deslauriers, Dubnyk, and any of the 3 goalies who backed up Dubnyk in Springfield; Aaron is easily #3. In fact he's probably better than JDD not only DD. The Oilers would be wise to ink him.

  • Robin Brownlee

    @ JP:
    You obviously are very familiar with Sorochan, as am I.

    I don't really care that he's from Edmonton. That's a nice angle, but the real thing with him is he's got game. NHL starter game? I don't know. But I'd sure like to see him perform within the pro model (AHL/NHL) for a season and see how he holds up. He can flat out stop pucks.

  • JP wrote:

    In my humble opinion if the depth chart is Roloson, Deslauriers, Dubnyk, and any of the 3 goalies who backed up Dubnyk in Springfield; Aaron is easily #3. In fact he’s probably better than JDD not only DD. The Oilers would be wise to ink him.

    Based on what? Playing well in the CIS is a long way from the NHL… A LONG WAY. He plays for the BEARS who have the advantage of getting first pick at almost all of the best players who haven't been drafted or going to the AHL.

    To say he is better than Deslauriers or Dubnyk is more a pick with your heart, because nothing shows he could play in the NHL, which JDD has or be the go to guy in the AHL which to date Dubynk has.

    He might pass them with a chance, but today he would not be ahead of either on the depth chart.

    The Oilers need to sign Dubnyk, and then another NHL ready goalie, either Roloson or someone else. They already have Pitton under contract, so realistically Sorochan would be battling Pitton for the back up job in Springfield.

  • Jason Gregor wrote:

    Based on what? Playing well in the CIS is a long way from the NHL… A LONG WAY. He plays for the BEARS who have the advantage of getting first pick at almost all of the best players who haven’t been drafted or going to the AHL.
    To say he is better than Deslauriers or Dubnyk is more a pick with your heart, because nothing shows he could play in the NHL, which JDD has or be the go to guy in the AHL which to date Dubynk has.

    Absolutely. For an idea of the difference in difficulty, keep in mind what happened to Harlan Anderson when he got a PTO with Springfield.

    This isn't to knock Sorochan, but he's a 25-year old putting up great numbers in CIS. Not too many of those guys go on to have NHL careers, and there's a world of difference between pro and even NCAA play, let alone CIS.

    I don't see why anyone would put Sorochan clearly ahead of any of Perugini/Fisher/Pitton (all of whom had very good years in either junior or NCAA). He might be somewhere in there, and in all likelihood he's worth a PTO or a camp invite, but his exact level of ability as a pro remains to be seen.

  • rindog

    @ Jonathan Willis:

    I am not sure how we could possibly tell if any of our goalies are ready to play at any level. When a coach and GM create the goaltending situation that they did last year and then further ruin things by getting rid of a capable guy (yes – he did struggle for a a half a dozen games)in order to free up time for JDD (which he never got) how could we know?

    I have no idea if Sorocahn is even worth a tryout, but I also have NO idea if any of the goalies we have are capable of winning 15 games next year in the NHL. We have a 40+ guy that looked dreadfully wornout the last 20 games or so. We have a totally unproven rookie that hasn't show anyone anything. And we have another prospect that had an "average at best" year in the AHL.

    I am confident (maybe more hopeful than confident) that management will rectify the situation with more then a tryout to a CIS goalie.

    If you were GM how would you solve our goaltending issues?

  • Bob Stauffer

    I can all but guarantee that Sorochan will be invited to the Oilers camp, and be given a legitimate chance to compete for a spot in Springfield.
    His pedigree is important.
    Solid 19 year-old season with Vancouver; WHL Eastern Conference All-Star as a 20-year old.
    It was kind of surprising he didn't get a legit AHL look after that season.
    He had a strong Oilers camp in the fall of 2005 and compared favorably to Dubnyk and Deslauriers at that time.
    But the Oilers didn't have their own AHL affiliate, and he didn't want to screw around in the ECHL.
    Prior to that camp he had committed to Alberta if things didn't work out at Oilers camp.
    Rob Daum was elated to get him and figured Sorochan was one of his most important recruits ever, except he never would get a chance to coach him, because Daum subsequently would go to Houston.
    I have probably seen Aaron play 80 times over the last four seasons, he has improved every season and took a major step forward during the 2006-07 season when he began working with Lyle Mast, who does some work with the LA Kings; the same Kings org. that has had sleepers Jonathan Quick and Erik Ersberg exceed expectations.
    Sorochan is relatively big, had athleticism and could handle the puck-Mast improved his puck-tracking abilities through better head placement.
    Based upon what I saw last fall at Oilers camp, Sorochan is defintely better than Fisher and Pitton and at least on par with Perugini.
    Perugini might be better suited to be the starter in the ECHL, with the older Sorochan backing up in the AHL.
    Throughout the course off the last four seasons personnel from three different NHL orgs. occasionally asked me about Sorochan.
    Goaltenders often develop late you have to be open-minded as to where you might find them.

  • Robin Brownlee

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    This isn’t to knock Sorochan, but he’s a 25-year old putting up great numbers in CIS. Not too many of those guys go on to have NHL careers, and there’s a world of difference between pro and even NCAA play, let alone CIS.

    Nice touch, Jon. I'm guessing you don't know the first thing about Sorochan because you've rolled back into the fold and right out of the blocks dismissed Sorochan — somebody I think (but WTF do I know) might be a find after actually watching him play — with vague generalities that are a bit misleading.

    Yes, Sorochan is 25 now, but he put up the great numbers you talk about in his final two WHL seasons at age 19 and 20 and his numbers in CIS starting as a 21-year-old. He went the smart route and got his degree instead of bailing for a pay cheque in the AHL or ECHL.
    And what does the lack of success Harlan Anderson had have to do with stopping pucks?

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    To say he is better than Deslauriers or Dubnyk is more a pick with your heart, because nothing shows he could play in the NHL, which JDD has or be the go to guy in the AHL which to date Dubynk has.
    He might pass them with a chance, but today he would not be ahead of either on the depth chart.

    Exactly. No way Sorochan belongs ahead of JDD or DD at this point. At the same time, I'll be very interested to see what happens if — I think it's a case of when — the Oilers toss him in the mix.

  • rindog wrote:

    If you were GM how would you solve our goaltending issues?

    A pair of capable guys. Roloson is one possibility, as are the usual cheap UFA options (Fernandez, Labarbera, etc.) or some of the young talent out there (Harding, Halak, Pavelec, etc.).

    I actually like JDD, but unless the Oilers bring in a bonafide starter he shouldn't be on the team; he's not reliable enough to be insurance at this point.

    As for the minor-league guys, Dubnyk and Perugini may both be of some help in the future, but neither is ready yet (though Dubnyk's probably not too far off from spot duty).

    Just my opinion, of course.