More on Goalies

Jim Matheosn’s catch-all column today raises interesting points and provides Oilers junkies with some fresh news.

The first thing that jumped out at me was these two paragraphs:

Oilers veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson may get a one-year offer with a raise over last year’s $3.66-million salary cap hit, but the odds of Edmonton offering more than one season are slim because of his age. Roloson turns 40 in October.

The Oilers aren’t interested in Philadelphia Flyers goalie Martin Biron, who will be unrestricted on July 1. He’s looking for $4.5 million a year, too rich for the Oilers’ blood.

Maybe I’m the only one who finds that combination a little funny. Still, it fits with something Robin Brownlee said in the comments section yesterday:

There’s no chance, none, the Oilers spend a nickel over $4.5 million on both goaltenders combined because it’ll tie their hands when it comes to addressing holes at forward and mute any pie-in-the-sky talk about chasing a big name FA or getting into the Heatley bidding.

Taking all of this together, it seems clear that the plan for next season is going to look a heck of a lot like how this team functioned once Mathieu Garon was moved: ride the old guy (Roloson) and hope that the young guy (Deslauriers) can step in (we can assume with a fair degree of certainty that JDD will be back because of his small salary; particularly if Roloson is slated for a raise).

Needless to say, I don’t especially like it. Let’s assume that Roloson’s raise is a marginal one, and that he signs a 1yr/3.75MM contract. That means that the difference in price between him and Biron is 750K. Is the difference between the two goaltenders worth less than 750K? I’m not sure I like that gamble.

Biron’s eight years younger, and in his prime; Roloson, in contrast, is right near the end of his career. Biron has also posted better numbers in each of the last two seasons.

None of this is the point, though. The point is that the Oilers seem like they’re trying to be cheap and extravagant at the same time; cheap, in that they won’t grab the established starter without the question marks (age being the chief concern) and extravagant in the sense that they’re talking about giving Roloson a raise.

Running with Roloson/Deslauriers to start the season is just too risky. If Roloson plays well, everything’s fine and dandy, but if he shows his age, or simply plays like he did in 2007-08, the team is relying on Jeff Deslauriers, a young goaltender with a mediocre AHL track record and minimal NHL experience.

Everytime I bring this up someone says, ‘but he’s young, why not give him a chance?’ The answer to that is his AHL record. Deslauriers has played 137 AHL games; his career high in save percentage is .912. The year before, on a very good Wilkes-Barre team, he only posted a .908 SV%. None of that suggests he’s going to be a good NHL goaltender, and frankly it suggests the opposite. If he were going to be the confirmed backup it wouldn’t be a big deal, but if there’s a decent chance (and with Roloson as the starter there is) that the Oilers will end up relying on him, it’s simply too great a risk.

If the Oilers are determined to go cheap on goaltenders – and between Matheson and Brownlee we can be sure they do – let me suggest an alternative tandem. First, here’s what Roloson and JDD would look like cap-wise, assuming a 3.75MM/yr salary for Roloson:

Roloson: 3.75 MM
Deslauriers 0.625 MM
Combined: 4.375MM

Now, with 4.4 million dollars, can the Oilers get a better, more reliable duo? I believe they can. Even assuming that Ty Conklin and Mathieu Garon aren’t options, the Oilers could still lock up two of Craig Anderson, Josh Harding, Scott Clemmensen, Anterro Niittymaki, Martin Gerber or Jason Labarbera with that price tag. Personally, I’d be much happier with a Anderson/Harding tandem, because I wouldn’t be too concerned going with either goaltender. It just seems like less of a risk to me.

  • Hippy

    I can't believe that Roli might get a raise. I want him back for 1 more year, but come on, he dosn't have any leverage so why on earth would you give him more money????

  • Hippy

    I couldn't agree more with this thinking and I wish we would apply it to our entire roster. I know there are other factors than just money (like a big name to sell tickets and show other notable players that Edmonton is a good place to play), but we need to be responsible with who we hand money to. In fact I'd be in favor of bottoming out for a few years instead of the race for eigth every year.

  • Hippy

    Maybe there is a chance the Montreal would like a Francophone goaltender and would consider moving Price. After last year he is not a fan favorite….just throwing that out there.

  • Hippy

    Roli is worth $3.75 mill, just needs to be over 2 years, not one. If that is what Roli wants, let him go and when nobody signs him, his competitiveness will bring him back and sign him for $2 mill or less, nothing more.

    I would rather sign someone else at 1.5 or 2 mill, if they have a good season, they can end up being a solid starter for many years. Even if Roli has a good year, yo are in the same position next year and have accomplished nothing, unless of course you hope to sign Lucky Lou. Maybe Tambo has a great realationship with Lou and has a chance at landing him. He is the ONLY goaltender at this point that I would spend big bucks on.

  • Hippy

    @ Boris:

    There was a rumor out there that Tambellini was shopping Cogliano for Carey Price. Unfortunately I think it was an Ekland… (So about as valid and connected as the scribbles on a bathroom wall)

  • Hippy

    At the beginning of last season, the odds that Roli would have the year that he did would have been tiny. The odds of him having that year, and then foillowing it up the year after with an even better one? Astronomical.

    I love Roli, but I don't think there's any way the Oilers should be talking raise at all. No one is expecting him to outperform last year, so why should they pay more?

  • Hippy

    Victoria wrote:

    JDD has never played behind one team for more then a season – that’s an absolute joke.

    The Oilers haven't done JDD any favors development wise… but that doesn't mean they missed out on a "gem". Great young players with exceptional talent often create their own opportunities.

    Danny Sabourin is a guy who nicely compares to JDD. He's 6'4", a little slow laterally, and posted .940 SV%'s in the ECHL, .910 SV%'s in the AHL, and sub .900 SV%'s in the NHL. Now I know JDD is younger, was drafted higher (mistake) and hasn't had many NHL starts…

    But let's look at that. JDD is 25; Sabourin only 28. Sabourin EARNED a look at the NHL level by winning 30 games in 49 starts with Wilkes-Barrie… Or did he? Despite winning the AHL Most Outstanding Goalie honors for that effort: Sabourin has only been given 38 career NHL starts. (10 average per serason) During that time, Sabourin posted an .898 SV%. and is now likely washed up at the NHL level.

    Last season JDD was given a one way contract thanks more to his draft pedigree than his on-ice performance. Despite this tremendous break JDD didn't show enough either in practice, or relief to justify this huge opportunity.

    On paper, JDD practically IS Sabourin; their career paths, style, and numbers are virtually identical. Three years from now, I'd be surprised if JDD is still in the NHL. I don't know why people think this is so unfair… Neither player has shown that he is good enough to play at the NHL level.

  • Hippy

    @ Ducey:

    What happens if Roli starts to show his age, and plays like he did in 07-08, and JDD can't pick up the slack?

    Then what do the Oilers do?

    IMHO a 2 year contract with Rolison is out of the question. Why not try to sign 1 or 2 of the FA's, or try to make a deal for a more proven starter first?

    @ Gregor:

    Thanks for the info