The Edmonton Oilers need some good goaltending and their best prospect (Laurent Brossoit) remains in the minors. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.
During last night’s game on the coast, Todd Nelson went to the bench and found Tyler Bunz as the next man up. I was happy to see Bunz get his NHL chance, who knows if he’ll pass this way again. For Bunz, his first NHL game—under less than ideal circumstances—must have been the ultimate thrill ride. He gave up some goals, he looked wobbly, but he was in the NHL and you can never take it away from him.
Want to thank everyone for the support. Never like losing like that, but I’ll never take back that experience. Learn and move on
— Tyler Bunz (@tylerbunz) April 3, 2015
Kings Sutter has compassion for Oilers Tyler Bunz ordeal “he’s a good Western Canadian, he’ll bounce back” pic.twitter.com/eUNXUJoo9L
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) April 3, 2015
The Oilers had another option available, as we can see by looking at the AHL Barons and their goalie usage this year:
- Richard Bachman 22GP, 2.30 .921 (leave of absence for personal reasons)
- Laurent Brossoit 47GP, 2.63 .917 (last night’s Barons starter)
- Frans Tuohimaa 3GP, 4.22 .904 (injured)
- Tyler Bunz 2GP, 5.00 .839 (backup in the NHL)
- Kent Patterson DNP (backup in last night’s game, signed to PTO)
The choice for callup when Bachman was unavailable came down to Brossoit v. Bunz and the organization made the decision to stay the course, develop their top goaltending option with a big game in the AHL and run with Ben Scrivens.
It worked out too, Brossoit was brilliant in a win for the Barons and the club added two badly needed points for their playoff run.
UNFAIR TO BUNZ!
Bunz should not have been put into the Oilers game. Like dropping him off on the sinking titanic with a patch kit and wishing him luck.
— Jason Strudwick (@Struds1260) April 3, 2015
Jason Strudwick has forgotten more about the game of hockey than I’ll ever know and his words have iron in them. If he says it was wrong, I’ll buy that from a player and NHL standpoint. I can’t speak to it but if there’s a rule that’s been broken there, a line that was crossed, I’ll accept it as a reasonable criticism of the decision.
I do think the Oilers were looking long term in regard to their prospect development and that has value too. Brossoit’s presence on the Barons (as opposed to backing up in the NHL) allowed OKC to keep their playoff spot (they are currently seeded No. 5 among eight teams) and keeps them within range of Rockford.
Brossoit will get his opportunity but his job today is getting the Barons into the post season and ensuring the organization can give their prospects a long run into spring. That run could eventually include CHL players and (possibly) Russian winger Anton Slepyshev.
INTEGRITY OF THE GAME
There is another side to this beyond the point made by Mr. Strudwick above and that is the integrity of the game. Edmonton owes it to Calgary and Winnipeg and all teams in the playoff hunt to dress the best available lineup and compete. That has been perhaps overlooked in the race for Connor McDavid but I don’t think the Oilers can be faulted for using Bunz last night.
The game was lost, Bunz was available and the team gave him the opportunity. At the end of the day (thanks Chris Pronger, your phrase lives on!) Bunz’ save percentage (.750) was not dissimilar to that of Ben Scrivens (.762) so the game’s integrity, such as it is, remains intact.
Edmonton was awful last night. We can point to Ben Scrivens and Tyler Bunz, but let’s agree there were other culprits (one of my personal favorites, Martin Marincin, was very poor) and that this season can’t end soon enough for all involved and the ‘Donner’s hit California’ road trip just finished last night was another awful low point.
It’s been an awful season. Tyler Bunz dressed in an NHL game and will live forever in the hockey encyclopedia. Maybe he builds on it, maybe we never see him again. I don’t think the Oilers broke any rules in calling him in, beyond the points made by Jason Strudwick above.
(All photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)