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.


  • Bob Stauffer

    Regarding Willis.
    Occasionally browsing this site, mainly because of my respect for Brownlee, I wonder what the hell do you do?
    Nothing wrong with relying on stats (some of your stuff is compelling), but do you have actual access to know what happens in a given situation?
    Have you spoken to Buchberger or Anderson to get a guage of how Anderson played in his very short stint in Springfield?
    Did you see Chorney's numbers this season?
    My guess is that you are completely reliant on stats, and unfortunately little else, and stats only tell part of the story.

  • @ Robin Brownlee:

    Wow, I've missed you Robin. I take it you didn't read all the way to the last paragraph:

    "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."

    I'm not dismissing him; in fact I agree with you that he's worth a look. I'm just trying to be pragmatic here and pragmatism dictates that a goaltender with his background probably isn't going to be anything special at the NHL level. It's precisely because I'm not in possession of a ton of knowledge on Sorochan that I didn't dismiss him.

    But what the hell, see what you want to see.

  • Sandra Blood

    @ Bob Stauffer:
    It's about time your back Stauffer, So does Peters get the boot too? I hope so, He really damaged Desjarlais and Garon, who are both butterfly goalies, he did nothing for any Oiler goalie, maybe except Roli. So can you put in a good word for Garon, I think he will be a great Tandem of 41-41 with him and Desjarlais, Bring in Fuhrsy and hell we got a great coaching tandem and they all catch the same way. Plus Garon , who won't play this spring but will have a Stanley Cup ring to his resume, thanks to MacT. You were a Garon supporter, he never got a fair shake, maybe Text Katz and ask him to bring him back.

  • @ Bob Stauffer:

    This is a hobby for me obviously; I work in the oil patch and I'm not a professional journalist by any stretch.

    I use stats to make my arguments generally because I realize that my personal viewings of players probably shouldn't be taken too seriously; after all I'm strictly an amateur so what does my personal opinion based on observation matter?

    I'm not sure what you're getting at with Chorney (I saw his numbers, they were bad – as was his play, for that matter, at least in the games I saw him in).

    I'm also not sure what you're getting at with Harlan Anderson – he went -7 in 9 AHL games and more importantly just wrapped up a season with the Heilbronn Falcons in a third-tier German league, so I'm not sure I need to ask Kelly Buchburger if he has an NHL future or not.

  • Bob Stauffer

    Sandra,

    I believed in Garon.
    Roloson was mentally stronger, and had the belief from MacTavish.
    And every player will tell you the coach is always right, until he is relieved of his duties.
    I still think Garon could be okay, he has the natural athleticism but has to improve his mental make-up.
    Have a nice day.

    Bob

  • Sandra Blood

    Bob Stauffer wrote:

    Sandra,
    I believed in Garon.
    Roloson was mentally stronger, and had the belief from MacTavish.
    And every player will tell you the coach is always right, until he is relieved of his duties.
    I still think Garon could be okay, he has the natural athleticism but has to improve his mental make-up.
    Have a nice day.
    Bob

    Thanks Bob, You and Brownlee are top notch, We Oiler fans have lots of resepect for you when you speak, we miss your show, maybe you can do some shows this summer, we are starving for Oiler news. What about Peters?

  • Bob Stauffer

    Jon.

    Thank you for clarifying your job status.
    Again some of your stuff is quite compelling, but as you know there are circumstances beyond the numbers.
    Anderson had pro opportunities in North America throughout his Bears career.
    Scott Howson called me the day after the 2005 University Cup final looking to add Anderson and Ben Kilgour for the Roadrunners.
    Anderson suffered a serious knee injury which saw him miss most of February in 2008.
    He came back on one leg and captained the Bears to a the 2008 National title, and left a week later to join a moribund FALCONS squad for the final two weeks of the season.
    He did not even wait for another AHL offer during the that off-season, siging for more money and playing less games in Europe right away.
    Regarding CIS/NCAA.
    Overall the depth of NCAA is better than the CIS, but certainly the top CIS programs could give NCAA teams a run.
    In the last five years I was at Alberta and hosted Total Sports I attempted to get several top NCAA program to Edmonton to play the Bears…they won't come!
    I was offering $50,000 a game.
    To put things in perspective the NCAA schools want the Bears to play three games in three nights and only shell out $20,000 total.

  • @ Bob Stauffer:

    Thanks for that information, Bob. I didn't know about Anderson's knee injury; and obviously that makes a difference. I honestly just grabbed his name as the first example that came to mind of an ex-CIS player not setting the world aflame as a pro.

    Brownlee pointed out above that Sorochan did the smart thing and got a degree, and I tend to think that for most guys that's a good idea since the vast majority of prospects aren't going to make a fortune as a pro hockey player. By the same measure, as I'm sure you'd agree, very few first-rate prospects end up going the CIS route in the first place; mostly it seems like the guys who don't get a decent pro offer go that way.

    I really don't mean to say that a player can't go from the CIS to the NHL; just that the odds aren't favourable.

  • Robin Brownlee

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    But what the hell, see what you want to see

    Passing off Sorochan's CIS career as a 25-year-old putting up great numbers IS dismissive, not to mention inaccurate.

    And what you call pragmatic, I call generalizing when you don't know squat about a specific individual.

  • Robin Brownlee wrote:

    Passing off Sorochan’s CIS career as a 25-year-old putting up great numbers IS dismissive, not to mention inaccurate.

    Which bit was inaccurate? Is he not putting up great numbers? Is he not 25 years old? He's both those things – and while he has had a great CIS career, how many CIS goaltenders can you think of who have gone on to NHL success? (Please note: I mean this seriously, not snarkily, because I honestly can't think of any and I'd like to know if I'm wrong on that)

    It would be wrong to say "Sorochan won't be an NHL'er, because most goalies who play CIS don't go on to the NHL", but I really don't see how it's wrong to say "Sorochan probably won't be an NHL'er because most goalies who play CIS don't go on to the NHL".

    And one further point: I really didn't say anything that disagreed with Jason Gregor's comment above; I said Sorochan belonged somewhere in the Perugini/Pitton/Fisher category of goaltender (i.e. directly below more prized prospects like Dubnyk/JDD). I think quite highly of Perugini and Fisher's just had a very good year, so I don't see how you can accuse me of dismissing him out of hand. But I would guess (and it is just a guess) that your problem is less with my argument than the fact that it's me making it; after all, when Jason said something very similar, you didn't go after him, did you?

    It's not a stretch to put a goaltender with great CIS numbers in the same range as successful WHL/ECHL goaltenders; it would be a stretch to put him in with the successful AHL goaltenders at this point. I honestly don't even see what point we're disagreeing on; we have basically the same opinion of where Sorochan would slot in the depth chart.

  • Bob Stauffer

    I would suggest that given the right backing Sorochan could be a succesful AHL goalie; from there anything can happen…especially with goaltenders.
    I certainly did not see Quick ahead of Bernier in LA right now.

  • Travis Dakin

    This thread took a turn down awesome street. A little reminder of why this site is the best. Thanks for the info Bob and you other gentelmen, keep an sassin'.

  • Robin Brownlee

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    But I would guess (and it is just a guess) that your problem is less with my argument than the fact that it’s me making it

    Just stop.

    Again, Sorochan didn't put up great numbers in the CIS as a 25-year-old. He put up great numbers at 21, 22, 23 and 24. Not just one year, and not at 25 — he hadn't reached his 25th birthday when last season ended. That's what part is inaccurate and that's what part I take issue with. It wasn't a one-off.

    And Gregor is right. It makes no sense to say Sorochan belongs ahead of Deslauriers and Dubnyk on the depth charts, as one poster did. That's too optimistic until there's proof otherwise.

  • Jay

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    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.

    My opinion may be biased, but consistent. I've seen Dubnyk, he's a big body with slow movement and unspectacular glove prone to soft goals. Deslauriers has probably peaked, stunted development. And the others? Fisher is awful. Perigruni a good ECHL goalie. And Pitton a AHL back up calibre goalie.

    Zorro better? Absolutely. He certainly hasn't been given he breaks others have.

    Could he have given up free school for a chance to start in the ECHL? Sure, why? I know it hurts Willis in his statistical evaluation, the trig isn't there so he can't be good theory. (which proves that if you don't have the whole story you shouldn't make an opinion, unless the guy is a 8 teams in 5 year ECHLer then he's a top 50 prospect…)

    It's an opinion Jay, don't like it, don't knock it. It's based on the same details you have made yours.

  • oldprospector

    Gregor – get a clue. Let's point out the obvious – you don't know how a guy is going to play at the next level until he gets a look. About the bears getting every single top end player they want – thats a fallacy. Schools like UNB and others are getting more and more top end players and arguably UNB has been snatching up more than its fair share of elite players in the past 3-4 years than Alberta. Goaltending is different than a forward or defenceman for evaluating talent. The majority of elite CIS players can't make the jump to the AHL or above because they don't have the skating ability. With goaltending this is a non-factor. Sorochan is the best goalie Alberta has had in the last two decades, and as pointed out put up stellar numbers in the WHL. Everyone knows you don't respect CIS hockey but at least give his WHL numbers credit. If you would have watched him play this past season more than a handful of games (if that) you would realize that there was no one close to his ability. He has the lateral movement and ability to see pucks through a screen that lend well to playing at the faster paced AHL level. He is good enough to be a backup in the AHL without question.

  • Jay

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    And by that of course I meant Dubnyk was good WHL goaltender (although Kamloops fans would say “great”) and JDD a good goalie in the QMJHL, not the WHL.

    OHL for Pitton…. Again you're down playing a more legit prospect. He has always had the label of having the ability to steal games he did it here before junior, he did it in Lethbridge and Vancouver, and he did it at the U of A. He's got credible ability. Any one who saw the 2008 final knows that the U of A had no business winning if not for several 5 bell saves he made to keep his team in the game and ahead.

  • @ Jay:

    You could be right that I'm undervaluing Sorochan; it is just my opinion after all. On the other hand, this fall I was excited about an undrafted free agent, Andrew Perugini. Here's what I said at the time:

    Even if Deslauriers stays up, I doubt that Glenn Fisher sees a ton of game action. Devan Dubnyk is expected to be the starter in Springfield, and both Bryan Pitton and Andrew Perugini are legitimate prospects who need development time. Fisher, on the other hand, is a 25-year old goaltender coming off a middling ECHL season, and I don’t think the organization can afford to give him many starts.

    Kevin Prendergast indicated earlier that the Oilers may chose to rotate the backup position in Springfield between Fisher, Pitton and Perugini. If I had to guess, I would imagine that the Oilers make Pitton the priority, given that he’s the only one of the three goaltenders on an NHL Entry Level deal. I’d also say that if the junior numbers are anything to go by, Perugini emerges as the best of the three goaltenders by the mid-season mark.

    I pegged Fisher as a guy who would start in the AHL and wasn't an organizational priority; he started in the AHL and was loaned to Calgary's ECHL affiliate midseason.

    I said the Oilers would make Pitton a priority in terms of getting starts; to begin the year he played often while Perugini was the seldom used backup.

    I said that Perugini, based on his junior numbers, would eclipse Pitton by midseason; Pitton collapsed, and new coach Matt Thomas relied heavily on Perugini, riding him all the way to an unlikely playoff berth.

    The point of this is that I pegged the Oilers goaltenders pretty well in the fall, using the same methods that I'm being criticized for now. It is just my opinion; as an opinion it is far from infallible and I'm a long ways from having a perfect record (as one example, like Brownlee, I was very optimistic on Garon to start the season). That said, the math's been pretty reliable so far, and if I had to guess I'd imagine Sorochan slides in right around where Perugini is right now on the depth chart.

    I'd be an unabashed supporter of signing him to a contract, but right now the organization needs to make some room, either by clearing out Glenn Fisher (who had a tremendous late season run for Las Vegas of the ECHL; .930 SV%) or Bryan Pitton (who has two more years left in his entry level deal).

  • Robin Brownlee

    Hemmertime wrote:

    I mentioned Keenan a week or so ago, now that its official hes terminated I really like the idea.

    You are a genius. You called the Keenan shot. Too bad he'd be a horrific mismatch here. Luckily, there's zero chance Keenan gets a sniff.

  • bozo

    Stauffer,

    You're not using your 'enter' key enough. See those spaces between other people's paragraphs? Perhaps you need more practice with your computing machine.

    BTW, did JW pee in your cornflakes? Is Sorochan your girlfriend's kid? If not, why the rage over JW pointing out that there's good reason to be skeptical about CIS goalies? I mean, has a CIS goalie ever done what you're saying Sorochan will do? Not to say Sorochan won't make it, but if no one in his position has made it, shouldn't we be highly skeptical. Things that have never happened over years, given multiple chances, have a low probability of happening. No?

  • J-Bird

    Slow news day in Oilerville when folks are sittin around argueing about whether a 25 year old CIS goalie is in the future plans of the Oilers, and where he'd land on the farm.

    Certainly this is WAY down the list isn't it? I mean there's no starting goalie, no head coach yet, lots of salary to shed, some contract to move or eat, etc. And we're talking about a 25 year old CIS goalie, making rediculous comparison's to Tim Thomas? Come on.

    The CIS is what it is. A high level of hockey, played by (in the west anyways) a bunch of WHLers who didn't get drafted or signed to move on to the AHL or other levels of "pro" hockey. The NHL dream is over for 99.9999999% of them.

    Next….

  • oldprospector wrote:

    Gregor – get a clue. Let’s point out the obvious – you don’t know how a guy is going to play at the next level until he gets a look.

    WHich is what I said. He doesn't get ahead of JDD or DD until he proves he can play.

    oldprospector wrote:

    He has the lateral movement and ability to see pucks through a screen that lend well to playing at the faster paced AHL level. He is good enough to be a backup in the AHL without question.

    Which is exactly where I said he would rank. Feel free to make a counter point not agree with what I say.

    oldprospector wrote:

    Goaltending is different than a forward or defenceman for evaluating talent. The majority of elite CIS players can’t make the jump to the AHL or above because they don’t have the skating ability. With goaltending this is a non-factor.

    Are you on glue. Most CIS top-end players are good to great skaters. Size is what used to limit most of them from moving on. Skating is not the major obstacle holding most of them back.

    oldprospector wrote:

    Everyone knows you don’t respect CIS hockey but at least give his WHL numbers credit

    Once again talking out of your ass without a clue of what you are saying. My brother won a CIAU championship with Acadia. That team is still regarded as maybe the best University team ever.

    I know many of the Bears current and former players personally and they are all very good players, just not NHL players. That is a fact. Many have gone onto to careers in Europe and they make very good money and get a great experience living abroad.

    Because I say Sorochan doesn't deserve to be rated ahead of JDD or DD at this point, is far from saying I don't respect CIS hockey. Feel free to post a comment when you actually know what you are talking about.