(Funny How) Time Slips Away

I remember the day Edmonton drafted Jeff Deslauriers. Kevin Lowe dealt Jochen Hecht to Buffalo on the draft floor for two second round picks and Lindy Ruff looked like a man who knew he’d just won the lottery. These many years later, Jarret Stoll (the other 2nd rd pick) has played in 444 NHL games; Hecht has played in 489 games for the Sabres. Miles and miles of miles and miles have passed, and Jeff Deslauriers is still trying to establish himself in the NHL.

There were 6 rookie goalies who played over 1,000 minutes in the NHL last season. They were: Rask (Bos) .931; Howard (Det) .924; Varlamov (Was) .909; Gustafsson (Tor) .902; Deslauriers (Edm) .901 and Dubnyk (Edm) .889. The top 3 goalies on the list played for good to great hockey clubs, while the bottom three played for the dregs. At the end of the day, Deslauriers still hadn’t gained clearance on Devan Dubnyk and that more than anything sealed his fate.

It’s important to remember that Jeff Drouin Deslauriers had some draft pedigree. Redline report before the draft: Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, the biggest surprise of the top-enders, is as big as an octopus and takes up virtually the entire net with his 6-4 frame. In addition, he moves extremely well for a huge man. He has great intangibles with very positive body language and an alert attitude that gives teammates confidence. His rapid rise from nowhere this year gives the impression that he’s got a huge upside if he can continue to make the same type of quantum leap from season-to-season.

The thing about JDD is that you can pretty much say the same thing about him now (save the last sentence). For some reason, he’s never gained the confidence of the big club, and in truth didn’t get the chances normally associated with high draft picks because the organization (in the EIG era) cut costs that included a designated farm team. It’s worth remembering the timeline:

  • 2001-02: As the starting goaltender for Chicoutimi of the QMJHL, he was named to the first all rookie team and also defensive rookie of the year (QMJHL) and was named Top Goaltender at the 2002 top prospects game.
  • Oilers select JDD just outside the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.
  • 2002-03: Invited to Canada’s WJC camp in August and December but did not make the final team. He did represent the QMJHL against the touring Russian Selects in November of 2003.
  • 2003-04:Invited again to WJC camps but did not earn a spot on the team.
  • 2004-05: Split time between the AHL and ECHL in his first pro season playing for both the Edmonton Road Runners and Greenville Grrrowl.
  • 2005-06: A season of turmoil. He was third string with Hamilton (AHL) and then was demoted to the ECHL where he suffered a knee injury.
  • 2006-07: Played 40 games in the AHL and was solid if unspectacular. His .908SP ranked him 21st among AHL regular goalies.
  • 2007-08: His .912 SP (in 57gp) moved him up to 16th among AHL goalkeepers. This was certainly his high-water mark as a minor league goaltender.
  • 2008-09: Graduated to the NHL (although playing in just 10 games) and his .901SP ranked him 5th among goalies with 10 games or more in the big leagues that season.
  • 2009-10: NK’s injury means Deslauriers is the de facto starter. 48 games and God knows he hung in there on many nights when there wasn’t much hope for anyone wearing copper and blue. His .901SP ranked him in a tie for 53rd overall (with names like Steve Mason in Columbus and Mike Smith in TBAY surrounding JDD).

Through all those seasons the Oilers had JDD as a "goalie of the future" but the truth is that once the team selected Devan Dubnyk in 2004 it was obvious a decision had to be made down the line. It took forever. I think the JDD story is a little bit about a prospect unable to successfully reach the next level and also a little bit about an organization that had lost its way. In ranking him as the 17th best prospect in the system December 2008, I wrote:

  • However, his junior and minor league seasons rolling out over half a decade tells us he’s a mid-level prospect, properly slotted after the rocket prospects and a few of the flawed men, but well ahead of the muckers, grinders, imps, Coke machines with questionable hands, the Hail Mary’s and the personal favourites.

He remains so today. I suspect another NHL team might pluck him from the waiver wire and maybe a change in message or approach will give him that extra something he needs to become an established NHL goalie. Today is similar to the afternoon we found out Rob Schremp was an Islander: happy that the prospect may have another opportunity but content in the knowledge that the organization made the right call.

Sail on, Chicoutimi Sagueneen. We wish you the best.

JDD’s being sent out doesn’t necessarily mean he’s no longer an Oiler. Should he clear waivers there’s still a chance the young man will return, and just because he’s a free agent doesn’t mean he won’t sign here again next summer. But if he were my son, I’d tell him to find another organization, get a fresh start. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest.

The Oilers may call up a roster replacement tomorrow. My guess would be one of Liam Reddox or Shawn Belle. Reddox could help that horrible PK (although it does show signs of life) and Belle would improve the footspeed along the blue. JF Jacques waits in the wings, but according to Bob Stauffer today JFJ will require a quick trip to OKC. There’s a chance the slot will remain vacant until the Crazy Train is ready.

EDIT TO ADD: As mentioned by Louise (ID), Jacques will be on the big league roster as soon as he’s activated. His time in OKC would not have an impact on his roster spot in the NHL. Thanks Louise!

  • SumOil

    Today is similar to the afternoon we found out Rob Schremp was an Islander: happy that the prospect may have another opportunity but content in the knowledge that the organization made the right call.”

    There are a few differences, Schremp was a skilled forward and there are always teams who are lacking in those. JDD is a back-up goalie who are in surplus out there. Also other goalies like Griess and Ersberg went through the waivers unclaimed.
    Also JDD’s salaray is farily high for a guy with his production and will also be a deterrent for teams wanting to pick him up. I think there is more than a fair chance that he passes through and plays for the Barons

    • you can’t be serious about not wanting to split up a line – the priority should be what’s best for the big club.

      Would you cut off your head so there’s less weight pressing down on your feet?

      I don’t know who they will call up, but breaking up a line on the minor team should be way down on the list of considerations.

  • Lowetide

    I’ll be very surprised if he gets picked up on waivers.

    Given the train wreck that has been the oilers’ management of JDD’s development to date, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see him play substantially fewer games than Gerber, and wilt on the shelf (I’m only half serious, but that still makes me half serious).

    I agree wholeheartedly with Lowetide — finding another organization will probably do him good. I wish him all the best, too. He seems like a decent guy.

    I don’t follow the KHL, but it seems like he might find a home out there, and maybe earn a decent paycheque too (I imagine it’s better money than what he’ll make in the AHL after this year’s contract expires, but I could have my head up my ***).

      • IceDragoon

        Haha… funny one, Lt.

        You know that I have been trekking thru this life for many, many, years. I better have picked up a little wisdom along the way. And… Pouliot was on the roster last year while playing 4 games in Springfield. 🙂

        btw – Did you listened to Gregor’s interview with Hemsky on October 19th yet?

      • Oilers89

        Do you think they will call Reddox up even though he has to clear waivers first? I don’t think he will be claimed but you never know. Someone who doesn’t have to clear waivers maybe, I doubt Omark, but a Vande Velde or someone along those lines?

    • IceDragoon

      October 19 – hour 4 – last 10 minutes

      It only takes a few seconds to load, then you can click to near the end. It’s the post-practice scrum and the Oilers site has the first part of it, but his thoughts on Gagner’s game aren’t included. I like what it says about Hemsky and Gagner.


      We’ll soon see if there was cause for concern in waiving JDD.


      edit –

      You’re going to have to go to the team 1260 to find it.
      My link wont’t let me go to the second page.

      edit #2 –

      OK, I suck at links. You’re on your own now.

  • Crackenbury

    “He has great intangibles with very positive body language and an alert attitude that gives teammates confidence.”

    For me, this is why he lost out to Dubnyk. He seemed to openly show his discouragement at times last year when things weren’t going well. There were times he looked like he was about to start crying after a loss. Not what you want to see from your starting goalie. Dubnyk, on the other hand, had about as bad a first 10 games a goalie can have, but you never saw him down in the dumps.

  • striatic

    i kind of feel for JDD, they way management [actually, ownership] hindered his development.

    but it is difficult to feel sorry for him while he’s playing in the AHL for 1M, despite never having really proven himself.

    he has a lot of talent, and still has time left in his career to prove his ability.

    • Dan the Man

      Instead of choosing to title this story “(Funny How)Time Slips Away” and in keeping with the Linda Ronstadt theme you could have gone with “You’re no good”.

      Feeling better now that we’re through

      Feeling better ’cause I’m over you

      I learned my lesson, it left a scar

      Now I see how you really are

      You’re no good

      You’re no good

      You’re no good

      Baby you’re no good

  • Exciting news!

    ~I can’t wait for JFJ to re-join the big club!~

    *Gets shotgun out of closet. Pulls out dusty single shell from ammo cabinet with “in case of JFJ” scratched on casing and eyes shiny empty chamber with resignation*

    • Dyckster

      Not really sure why everyone is worried about the inevitable insertion of JFJ into the lineup.

      History tells us it’s not a matter of if, but when he’ll be on the LTIR again.

      • For me its the attitude on behalf of team management that this guy is an NHL player. We’ve seen ample evidence to the contrary. At some point you just have to cut your losses and explore other possibilities.

        Would JFJ still be around any other team in this league? Probably not. He had his shot. Several times over.

  • IceDragoon

    Keep in mind too that conditioning stints often don’t last the full two weeks. They can be as short as one game. I think it unlikely we will see either Powder or Belle here.

    I could be wrong ’cause god knows JFJ could really use the full two weeks.

    And one interesting thing is that despite all JFJ’s naysayers, Renney will be the 3rd NHL coach willing to take a swing at turning him into an NHL player.

    But it looks like the skill level of the 4th line is about to drop even further.

  • Crackenbury

    I have a threshold question about goaltenders and am curious about opinions. For truly impact goaltenders (I mean at the level of Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Grant Fuhr, and Billy Smith), was it evident from the very earliest stages of their careers that they were going to be very good players? Have organizations who have waited 7 or 8 years after a draft for a goalie to emerge been rewarded by an impact player? It could be argued that Ken Dryden started later, but that was more his choice to pursue university, and even he showed evidence soon after arriving in Montreal of being an impact player. If this hypothesis holds true, why did the Oilers bank on JDD to emerge after all these years?

  • Dan the Man

    We once had an older more experienced Jeff DesLaurier, his name was Mathieu Garon.

    I see these guys as being very similar, they’ll dazzle you in stretches but they should never be your number 1 guy for any lengthy period of time.

  • For all the roses being thrown at the change in fortune at the draft table for the Oilers Organization in the past 5 years, the team has done a horrible job in drafting and developing goaltenders since drafting Andy Moog in 80 and Grant Fuhr in 81.

    Since then it has been an abysmal. The Oilers have been waiting for a promising prospect to fill the void in net since the twilight years of Bill Ranford’s career and had it not been for a complete giveaway trade in Curtis Joseph and his turnaround, the Oilers would have selected first overall in many drafts in the mid to late 90s.

    Dwayne Rolosson hid the problem in similar fashion on his arrival.

    And it is not like the Oilers haven’t tried…Removing all the trades for goaltenders, since 1995 they have drafted 15 goalies (avg of one a year). Jussi Markkanen was a decent backup that could show flashes for a string of games, Mike Morrison had a catchy accent and some flare…but a quick look at hockeydb.com and you can see it is a list of unknowns that you couldn’t even generate interest in a “where are they now” episode.

    Honestly if you replaced JDD is on waivers with (Conklin, Morrison, Markkanen, and my favorite name Joaquin Gage) would you care ????

    Yes its true the path for JDD has been loaded with problems and the organization screwed up some of his development along the way. But he was given a chance, an opportunity to demonstrate to the coaching staff (he has had three different head coaches) that he is the ONE to keep. Somehow, someway, he just didn’t get that vote of confidence or earn it completely.

    But given the Oilers track record in drafting goalies, losing JDD will not be a huge blunder by the team.

    Note: the one small glimmer of hope that maybe, FINALLY the Oilers got one right in the goalie department is Olivier Roy…. One hopes they chart his development path much differently than those that preceded him.

      • that is a firm negative, it takes me a very long time to write up something that makes sense 🙂

        I just started reading Lowetide’s blogs so my apologies if I repeated a similar point he made.

        Although, it is unlikely that my comments are unique, if you have been an long time Oiler fan like myself, you have witnessed the mess the Oilers have made of Goaltending draft picks for close to two decades.

  • Dyckster

    I remember a goalie straight out of Cornell that won a Stanley Cup for his team in the 70s. What about a guy named Roy that spent half a season in the AHL then helped his NHL team win a cup the next. Sure most goalies take time to develop and Drouin-Deslaurier is no Dryden or Roy but somehow the best goalies are able to win games and stick in the NHL.

  • Dyckster

    Having been a goaltender myself, I would like to make an obvservation. JDD is an emotional and animated goalie with flashes of briliance whereas DD is a better positional and technical goaltender. I think the up side of DD is at a higher level than JDD. I think the Oilers made the right decision.