The Oilers don’t have much in the way of prospect goalies, but it may not matter

Tyler Bunz2

With all due respect to Laurent Brossoit, Frans Tuohimaa, Tyler Bunz, Zach Nagelvoort and Keven Bouchard, the Edmonton Oilers don’t have a blue chip goalie prospect.

I’m not sure that it matters.

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2013-14 Transactions


  • January 15: Edmonton Oilers acquire Ben Scrivens from the Kings in exchange for a 2014 third round pick (63rd overall, Dominic Turgeon)
  • March 4: Edmonton Oilers acquire Viktor Fasth from the Ducks in exchange for a 2014 fifth round pick (123rd overall, Matthew Berkovitz) and a 2015 third round pick
  • March 4: Edmonton Oilers acquire 2014 fourth round pick (91st overall, William Lagesson) in exchange for Ilya Bryzgalov

The point here should be obvious: the kinds of picks that NHL teams routinely spend at the draft on second-tier goalie prospects can be traded straight across for legitimate 1A or 1B goalies who already have an extensive professional track record.

When the contrast is made, it’s tough to make the case that those picks ought to be used on the guy who if all goes well is going to take five years to arrive and may not ever show up.


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Consider the pick traded for Scrivens. A few years ago, the Oilers used a very similar selection – 62nd overall – on a goalie, drafting Samu Perhonen, a big raw Finn with incredible potential. Perhonen was never signed, and last season was destroyed in nine games (0.864 save percentage) at the USHL level. In January, Edmonton expended the exact same resource on an NHL-ready goalie who is the front-runner for the No. 1 job in 2014-15.


Or, alternatively look at a deal that went the other way. The Wild dealt a high fourth round pick to the Oilers for Ilya Bryzgalov, who ended up being their playoff starter. Zach Nagelvoort is a pretty interesting prospect but if he turns out to be Bryzgalov it would represent a massive win for Edmonton’s amateur procurement side.

So, Never Draft Goalies?

Not exactly, no. A good young goalie can have some real value to an organization, and sometimes those guys are available late in the draft. Henrik Lundqvist was a seventh round draft pick; Pekka Rinne was picked in the (since-eliminated) eighth round as an overage player.

These guys can have value along the way, too. Petr Mrazek’s ultimate NHL future is still an unknown, but the 2010 fifth round pick has provided Detroit with an important third option over the last couple of seasons, stepping in at the NHL level when necessary and performing very well, all without any risk of loss to the waiver wire. That’s a useful guy to have in the system.

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So yes, it’s still legitimate to draft goalies. It’s just important to remember that even during the season it’s generally reasonably easy to add a proven option, even a proven option with potential starter upside, for the same price that a team would pay for a mid-tier prospect. 

That makes it kind of pointless to get bent out of shape about a lack of prospect depth at the position.


  • ubermiguel

    The only thing I could derive from this article is: When it comes to goalies, just hope and pray.
    or, we have completely ran out of things to talk about and we havent posted a picture of Ben Scrivens/mentioned the Victor Fasth trade in a few weeks.

  • ubermiguel

    You’d still rather be the organization with too many goalie prospects than too few. None of those goalies we traded for are at the Lundqvist-level (yet).

  • ubermiguel

    It does seem like goalies are a bit of crap shoot. It would be nice to have a Price or a Quick, or a Rask in the system. It would be equally nice if Scrivens or Fasth turned out to be the next Kipper, stolen under the radar from a team that didn’t know what they had. But it seems at least for the last few years that goalies who play average in the regular season can be had for low cost.

  • ubermiguel

    Hey… There isn’t much going on in the hockey world. I for one apreciate Jonathan writing all the articles he does. If you are expecting hard hitting journalism about a last place team that hasn’t played a game in months or a playoff game in 800 years dream on .

  • ubermiguel

    There are reports that Yakupov is being shopped around right now. Ottawa, New Jersey & NYI in the mix.
    Why can’t a #1 draftee cannot fit on a loser team?
    Is he the Russian Alexandre Daigle OR… Eakins burnt him? I’d aim for the KHL rather then Edmonton.

  • This is a goalie article, forget the Yak rumors that aren’t exactly new…

    As for Scrivens, I think it’s because this is his hometown, but I believe in him. I will always take an athletic goalie with skill over a big goalie who can get in the way. Plus I loved the heart he showed in a period of complete disappointment and despair.

    I think Fasth could be pretty good too, I remember about a year or 2 ago thinking…man I wish we had a guy like that in OUR system…and here he is.

  • ubermiguel

    The depth in goal is a question mark. Victor seems injury prone, and Ben was a backup in both LA and Toronto. A third option would be good. The thing with goalies is they all have slumps. The key is getting hot at the right time.

    Like Fuhr once said.” I can let in 5 goals, as long as the other guy lets in 6.” Fuhr and Moog, what a tandem.

  • Serious Gord

    Scrivens and fasth have never been #1 goalies until perhaps this year. They certainly weren’t traded by teams that had them as 1a or 1b they were both backups.

    • Joy S. Lee

      Kind of silly to have to say this, but was Dominic Hasek ever the #1 in Chicago, where he started his career (probably older than Scrivens is now)… I think the Hawks dealt him to Buffalo for a 7th rounder or something, so your point is really moot. The real question is whether Scrivens OR Fasth are ready for the role, and it cannot be answered until several months from now.

      • Serious Gord

        I’m referring to johnathons comment:

        “…the kinds of picks that NHL teams routinely spend at the draft on second-tier goalie prospects can be traded straight across for legitimate 1A or 1B goalies…”

        Two of the three examples he cited were Scrivens and fasth – they were not considered 1a or 1b by the teams that traded them.

    • Serious Gord

      So what Gord, can you not trust your own eyes? did you not watch these guys play last season they are legit goalies hungry to be No.1’s. At least we saw these guys play with our own eyes instead of them coming in as free agents and not knowing. For now goaltending is fixed move on.

      • Serious Gord

        Ever heard of Roman Turek? Neither of these goalies have played more than a handful of games for the oil – on a team that was out of the playoff race.

        I (and many others) will reserve judgement for at least half to two thirds of a season – and even then I would be trepidatious to proclaim them elite starting goalies – certainly the teams they played for before the oil didn’t commit. And they didn’t see anything worth keeping.

        It ain’t fixed until it’s fixed and like a plumbing repair you can’t be sure until it’s fully pressured up and been stressed a few times.

        • Spoils

          Im curious to know how many teams do you think have elite goaltending? You speak of it like its out there and all.EDM has is simply “go and get it”.

          Quick, Price, Rask, Rinne, Lindqvist, maybe one or two of Bobrovsky, Varlamov Smith, Bishop.

          You make it sound like 3/4 of the league has what the Oilers dont

          • Serious Gord

            Getting an elite goalie is a quest that never ends, much as the quest for a stud defensemen never ends – they can be pillars for years of success – Martin Brodeur and lidstrom for example. There are perhaps 5-7 at any time that could be considered elite.

          • Serious Gord

            Fourth best save% of any goalie that played more than 25 games last year (played 36 games) – just .001 out of a three way tie for second. A potential elite goalie starting his first year as a solid number one.

          • Serious Gord

            Based on that criteria Scrivens was on the cusp of elite when Mac traded for him. .931%

            Also he was a measly.004 behind Khubodin on the season all while playing behind the worst defensive team in the league.

            I think Scrivens is a safe risk at this point. Lets give him a shot shall we?

          • pkam

            First, Khudobin is .001 out of a three way tie for 3rd, not second. Rask is second all alone at .930, .003 better than the 3rds.

            Scrivens is .931 in his 19 games as a Kings, .005 better than Khudobin and this number will put him 2nd, just .001 ahead of Rask. And his SV% and GAA in LA are both better than Quick.

            Don’t forget, Khudobin is playing behind a team better than the Oilers, especially the centre and defense, and is in the weakest division. Do you honestly think Khudobin can put up the same number if he was an Oilers last year?

            All Scrivens needs is another 17 games with LA to prove he is as good as, if not better than Khudobin.

            And don’t forget, Khudobin was also let go by 2 teams before playing in Carolina, not any better than Scrivens.

            Yet one is considered by you as on the cusp/may already be elite goalie only after 57 NHL games, the other is questionable even as a NHL starter.

            I really wonder if you still consider Khudobin an elite caliber goalie if he is an Oilers.

          • Zarny

            My point exactly. Which is why Im wondering why your $hitting all over Mac for not having an elite goalie.

            As far as a #1 defenceman goes id much rather him groom the great D prospects we have while signing affordable, usefull defenceman instead of trading half the team for a #1D

          • Serious Gord

            I have been “$hitting all over Mac” because he has the second least experienced goalie pairing in the league with no proven number one goalie – not that he hasn’t landed an elite goalie.

          • They are more experienced than the duo Tampa took into last season and, interestingly enough, Tampa thought they’d have a battle for playing time on their hands between Bishop and Lindback.

            Scrivens also has every bit as good a track record as Bishop had, but he hasn’t received the same respect almost entirely because of draft pedigree.

  • Serious Gord

    As was debated at length a few weeks ago on this site the vast majority of Elite goalies are well scouted and draft high. There are exceptions but they are increasingly rare.

    The debate is whether it is wiser to be the original drafting team a la Montreal and Carey price or to go and get one via trade/free agency a la Vancouver and luongo. There are strong arguments to both. I tend towards the former but don’t trust the oiler goaltending scouting to pick a winner.

    What is clear is that the oil do not have an elite goalie anywhere in the organization and that having one correlates very strongly to being a cup competitive team.

  • OilClog

    Could always do a “what if” series.

    What if The Oilers start 2-8

    What if The Oilers start 8-2

    What if Nikita busts and we still have Ference

    What if Petry and Schultz both struggle? Or play good? What’s best for the team long term? Who gets us that elusive 2C?

    Who should the Oilers be looking at shipping Petry or Schultz to for that 2nd C?

    What if Scrivens is the goalie of the future, since he’s about 20years younger then when Roloson arrived.

    Alittle creativity and many things can be blogged about.. Just saying

  • Schnieder for #9

    Bo Horvat Apr 95 6’0″ 203lb #9 2013

    18 yr season 54gm 30G (.55 gpg) 44A (.81 APG) 1.36 PPG +20 (.37/gm)

    Greg Chase Jan 95 6’0″ 205lb #188 2013

    18 yr season 70gm 35G (.50 GPG) 50A (.71 APG) 1.21 PPG +29 (.41/gm)

    Sokmetimes that7th round pick could be worth that 9th overall.

  • Spoils

    It is interesting to look at the last 10 cup winners:

    Quick (72nd), Corey Crawford (52nd), Quick, Tim Thomas (217th), Antti Niemi (undrafted), Fleury (1st), Osgood (54th), Giguere (13th), Cam Ward (25th)

    Pretty wide range draft wise.

    Maybe you can piece together a goalie tandem and expect one to be good enough…

    This surprised me because I just assumed you need a King Henrik, Tim Thomas, Brodeur, Roy, Ranford, Quick, Hasek… and they are hard to trade for once they get hot.

    • ubermiguel

      To add to the list: Lunsqvist (205th), Brodeur (20th), Roy (51st), Ranford (52nd), Hasek (199st).

      Picking and developing goalies is a real crap shoot and pedigree is meaningless. It’s telling that all the teams passed up on Roy at least once that draft; even generational talents are hard to spot at goalie. Still, I’d rather be the team that has several goalies developing in hopes that one of them hits big.

    • Zarny

      The last 10 Cup winners would also include Nikolai Khabibulin drafted 204th overall.

      In terms of a pretty wide draft range it’s a matter of perspective.

      7 out of the last 10 G to win the Stanley Cup were drafted in the first 3 rounds.

      If you look at the 10 Stanley Cup winners before that (’94-’03) 8 out of 10 were drafted in the first 3 rounds – Richter, Brodeur, Roy, Vernon/Osgood, Osgood, Brodeur, Roy and Brodeur.

      So in the last 20 years only 5 G (Belfour, Hasek, Khabibulin, Thomas and Niemi) not drafted in the first 3 rounds have won the Stanley Cup.

      Conversely, over the last 20 years 15 or 75% of Stanley Cup winning G were drafted in the first 3 rounds.

      Statistically, one could describe that as a direct correlation.

      • ubermiguel

        Interesting numbers. Keep in mind you’re counting Brodeur 3 times as a data points however.

        I wanted to increase the sample size so I looked up the *losing* goalies in the finals in the last 10 years. It’s a 50/50 split if they were drafted in rounds 1-3 or 4-undrafted.

        Lundqvist (205)
        Rask (21)
        Luongo (4)
        Leighton (165)
        Howard (64)
        Fleury (1)
        Emery (99)
        Roloson (undrafted)*
        Kiprosoff (116)

        *I think we can all agree Roloson got the team the the SCF, even if he got injured on Game 1.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      LOL….me too! although unfortunately for us, that ship has sailed and it really does suck because he was the top ranked Euro goalie the year he was drafted and has done nothing at all ever since….figures doesn’t it?
      but as much as i have railed on the Oilers the last few drafts since Perhonen was taken, it DOES seem to me that the Oilers would rather trade for/sign an NHL ready goalie than waste a 1st or 2nd rounder on one. with the way our luck has been with drafted goalies over the years, i can’t blame them.

  • Zarny

    Interesting article and perspective. It certainly extends to a broader debate on goaltending.

    With the advances in G coaching and the influx of goalies from Sweden, Finland and the US I think there is more quality goaltending than ever. Last season there were 20 G with a SV% of 0.920 or better. 10 years ago there were 8. As recently as 6 years ago there were only 5.

    I think a key point here though is…you aren’t sure.

    I don’t think Scrivens and Fasth qualify as legitimate 1A or 1B starters quite yet. And while Bryzgalov did start for Min in the playoffs last year he also sported an 0.885 SV%.

    So while you can consider Ben Scrivens vs Samu Perhonen I think you also have to consider Scrivens vs Harding (38th), Lehner (46th), Howard (64th), Crawford (52nd), Quick (72nd) Bishop (85th), Andersen (87th), Mason (69th) and John Gibson (39th).

    I think it is also noteworthy that 17 of the top 30 (56%) and 7 of the top 10 SV% last year were drafted in rounds 1-3. 9 of the top 30 (30%) were 1st round picks. 12 of the top 30 (40%) were 1st or 2nd round picks.

    When you look at the distribution it would seem logical to focus G draft picks to the first 3 rounds. While not exclusive, that is where the majority of proven G are drafted.

    • pkam

      However, out of the top 10 SV% last year, 7 were traded by the team that drafted them.

      So JW argument of it may not matter still stands.

      One number we didn’t talk about is how many goalies drafted in the top 2 rounds didn’t make it to NHL starters.

      • Zarny

        Not necessarily.

        Varlamov was traded for a 1st and a 2nd round pick. Bobrovsky was traded for a 2nd round and two 4th round picks. Bernier was traded for Scrivens, Frattin and a 2nd round pick. That’s a much steeper price than JW was talking about with Scrivens, Fasth and Bryz.

        Bishop was traded for Conacher and a 4th after Conacher had 24 PT in 34 games. Rask was traded for Raycroft who was a starter at that point and more proven than Fasth, Scrivens or any 3-5th round draft pick.

        Which leaves only Anton Khudobin and Chad Johnson as the two G in the top 10 SV% who were acquired for a price as low or lower than JW referred to. And both are back-ups who only played 36 and 27 games respectively last year.

        I certainly think there is a debate to be had about acquiring goaltending. The failure rate for G drafted in the first 3 rounds though is only marginally higher than F and D.

        And while Scrivens and Fasth only cost 3rd and 5th round picks the price for most quality G is more. As with Varlamov, Bobrovsky and Bernier often considerably more. And that is aside from the fact that there is no certainty with either player. It’s premature to talk as if the Oilers have solved their problems in G.

          • Zarny

            Bishop had more of track record in the AHL but actually had fewer NHL games than Scrivens. The point was simply that the cost to acquire was more than a draft pick. Certainly no debating that Bishop was as unproven as Scrivens when acquired by TB.

            And none of that changes the fact the majority of quality G in the NHL are drafted in the first 3 rounds.

            Thomas only started 38 games the year Raycroft was traded for Rask and spent 28 games in the AHL that year. Thomas won the starting job that year but Raycroft was the starter for game 1.

  • The Last Big Bear

    If you are willing to go into battle with a ‘decent’ or ‘pretty good’ goalie, there’s no reason to draft them high, or even draft them at all. Perfectly adequate goalies can be acquired easily.

    If you insist on having an elite guy, you’ve got a tougher task. Getting a top-tier goalie is mostly a matter of luck. If you invest heavily in goalies in the draft, picking them early and often, you’ll probably have better luck, but it’s still a crap-shoot.

    I think MacT has done exactly what he should have done, which is to identify good goalies with potential who are backups behind established NHLers, and then use non-1st round picks to acquire them.

    Kiprusoff was the best goalie in the world in 2004, but was playing 3rd string in SJ behind Nabokov and Toskala. He was acquired for a 2nd rounder, and the rest is history.

    Obviously neither Scrivens nor Fasth are in the same realm as Kiprusoff, but they were perfect examples of the same kind of prudent gambles that I think maximise your risk/reward ratio. A couple of these moves will reliably get you a serviceable starter, but they each have the chance of delivering much more.

    • Zarny

      I don’t think many would argue that Scrivens and Fasth were good bets for MacT given the situation he was in.

      I think the broader debate is your first paragraph. Philosophically, do you perennially want to be going into battle with a decent or at least unproven G or do you want a proven stud.

      The answer probably depends on your expectations. If you are simply looking to be relatively competitive and have serviceable goaltending you may never draft a G.

      If your goal however is to win the Stanley Cup history would suggest you want a guy between the pipes who was a higher draft pick. Whether you draft them yourself or acquire them via trade or UFA is another debate.

  • Serious Gord

    To trade for a name, you’re going to have to give up a name. I like Scrivens and I look forward to seeing what he can do (but I used to like Dubnyk too).

    All I can say about this is that Craig and I are more comfortable with the goal tending situation going into this season than last year. Just on goal tending alone, the Oilers should pick up an additional 6 wins. And I think the attitude Scrivens displays will account for a few more wins.

    For prospects, I don’t know what constitutes a blue chip prospect but Brossoit, though not a sure thing is certainly an interesting prospect.

    I think the depth of the organization has improved over the past 18 months and expect it will continue to.

  • pkam

    I see the big news of the day is the Bakersfield Condors are going with the puffy shirt jersey this year.

    Let’s hope this is a organizational change and that the Oil, Barons and Kings make similar announcements in the days to come.

    Remember the old saying “If you can’t beat them on the fashion show runway you can’t beat them on the ice”.

    Long live Seinfeld.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    I think our goalie situation going into this year is significantly better than last year. Even MacT was hedging his bets before the start of last season.

    Scribbles is the real thing. He’s a top 15 tender in this league but has still yet to prove that he can play 50 games a year and be reliable. I really hope he and Fasth can dook it out well for ice-time.

    If we started last year with this duo we wouldn’t have ended up with Leon. So fine, this is where we are.

    I do expect and demand improvement as a loyal Oiler fan!