Oilers Negotiating With Dwayne Roloson

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I’ve been watching the newswire pretty closely over the last few months for news on Dwayne Roloson. For all of the holes on the team, the most important one to address before next season is the currently empty number one goaltending slot.

This morning, Rob Tychowski gave all of us a rather vague update on the negotiations so far:

The Oilers also entered preliminary discussions with netminder Dwayne Roloson this week, but the talks are more about philosophy than contract mechanics.
Roloson’s camp considers him an elite-level netminder worthy of elite level money (and term) while the Oilers have to decide whether they’re interested in entering a multi-year deal with a veteran netminder who’d be 41 in the second year of a contract. It’s a tough call when they have Jeff Deslauriers in the wings and there are younger options out there on the trade and UFA fronts.
They’ll talk again later this week.

A few points, if I may:

1) Jeff Deslauriers is not an option for the starter’s job next season. He simply isn’t, and running out of the gates with him in the #1 role is as stupid as Colorado’s decision to roll with Budaj/Raycroft last season. Possibly stupider, since Budaj at least had a consistent NHL track record. He’s easily in the picture for the backup job, but he’s not close to supplanting Roloson.

2) I’d like to see Roloson come back. He’s a combative professional, and there’s never been any question about his effort in Edmonton. He was one of the few bright spots over this past season, and I can’t understand why so many people seem to dislike him so much.

3) That said, Dwayne Roloson is not an elite-level netminder. He’s not even the best UFA goaltender this summer – more on that in a moment.

4) Finally, there are plenty of available goaltenders and precious few starting jobs. Roloson isn’t likely to get a multi-year deal from anybody else, and Steve Tambellini shouldn’t give him one – even if it means that he walks.

Taking A Look At The Field

I did this ten days ago when discussing where Josh Harding might fit into the Oilers plans, but here’s another look at avg. save percentage over the past three years with Dwayne Roloson in bold:

  • Anderson: .928 SV% (.931, .935, .924)
  • Biron: .913 SV% (.899/.908, .918, .915)
  • Khabibulin: .909 SV% (.902, .909, .919)
  • Roloson: .909 SV% (.909, .901, .915)
  • Conklin: .909 SV% (.871/.892, .923, .909)
  • Clemmensen: .909 SV% (.889, .839, .917)
  • Garon: .908 SV% (.907, .913, .895/.894)
  • Gerber: .907 SV% (.906, .910, .899/.905)
  • Fernandez: .906 SV% (.911, .832, .910)
  • Labarbera: .906 SV% (.910, .893/.915)
  • Legace: .904 SV% (.907, .911, .885)
  • Boucher: .904 SV% (.884/.866, .932, .917)

Of goaltenders in the same range, Craig Anderson hasn’t been a starter, while Nikolai Khabibulin has been inconsistent since winning the Cup in Tampa Bay and frankly scares me a little given what his salary is likely to be. With Philadelphia apparently running out Emery/Esche as their tandem for next season (and good luck with that, by the way), Martin Biron is looking for a new home and given his age and track record I think he’d have to be considered a better option than Roloson.

In any case, there are at least three starting-calibre goalies out there (four if you include Anderson) and that doesn’t count guys like Harding, Halak or Lehtonen who might be available via trade. Steve Tambellini has all the leverage here; if Roloson balks at a one-year deal, he has plenty of options.

In other words, if, as Tychowski says, Roloson is looking for “elite level money (and term)”, it’s might help to point out to him that Martin Biron and Nikolai Khabibulin are both on the market.

  • Hippy

    I'd love to see Roli back, he gets no love, but he is a fierce cometitor. That said, only if he's willing to take 1 year at reasonable money, or 2 years cheap. I'm sure his agent has looked around at the few spots for more than a few goalies and can figure out they aren't in the power position.