OILERS AND GOALIES: GOOD GRIEF

We’re coming up on 40 NHL drafts for the Edmonton Oilers and it’s clear now they used all of their voodoo in the first three editions to grab their franchise goalies. I’d ask the Oilers what process they use to identify goalies to draft, but I’m afraid they’d tell me.

THE LONG LIST OF OILERS GOALIES (DRAFT EDITION)

  1. Grant Fuhr 1981 (868gp)
  2. Andy Moog 1980 (713gp)
  3. Devan Dubnyk 2004 (231gp)
  4. Jussi Markkanen 2001 (128gp)
  5. Jeff Deslauriers 2002 (62gp)
  6. Mike Morrison 1998 (29gp)
  7. Darryl Reaugh 1984 (27gp)
  8. Joacquin Gage 1992 (23gp)
  9. Mike Greenlay 1986 (2gp)
  10. Mike Minard 1995 (1gp)
  11. Adam Hauser 1999 (1gp)
  12. Tyler Bunz 2010 (1gp)
  13. Rob Polman-Tuin 1980
  14. Ian Wood 1982
  15. Chris Smith 1982
  16. Dave Roach 1983
  17. Brian Tessier 1985
  18. John Haley 1985
  19. Gavin Armstrong 1987
  20. Tom Cole 1988
  21. Greg Louder 1990
  22. Mike Power 1990
  23. Andrew Verner 1991
  24. Evgeny Belosheiken 1992
  25. Chris Wickenheiser 1994
  26. Jeremy Jablonski 1994
  27. John Hultberg 1996
  28. Patrick Dovigi 1997
  29. Alexander Fomitchev 1997
  30. Kristian Antila 1998
  31. Glenn Fisher 2002
  32. Bjorn Burling 2004
  33. Bryan Pitton 2006
  34. Olivier Roy 2009

  35. Samu Perhonen 2011

  36. Frans Tuohimaa 2011

  37. Zach Nagelvoort 2014

  38. Keven Bouchard 2014

  39. Miroslav Svoboda 2015

That’s a lot of misses, folks. Mike Morrison, who was in the NHL for not long (and famous as MacT’s shootout expert) ranks No. 6 ALL-TIME on this list. Devan Dubnyk is the No. 3 Oilers goaltender and appears destined to run up a handsome total in not-Edmonton over the next several years. It is perhaps fitting that the one legit goalie drafted after 1981 stubbed his toe as an Oiler in order to play the heart of his career in the land of 10,000 lakes.

ARE THEY GETTING BETTER?

Well, no. Kevin Prendergast had a nice little run there between 2001 and 2004, when the Finn Jussi Markkanen joined Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk in a three year cluster. Each of those men were substantial prospects and at least played at the highest levels in a feature role for a season or more.

Among active goaltenders, Tyler Bunz won’t return, Olivier Roy was traded and they didn’t sign Samu Perhonen. Frans Tuohimaa is going back to Finland, Zach Nagelvoort had a subpar college season, Keven Bouchard didn’t progress much in the Q and Miroslav Svoboda was just drafted and probably thinks he’s blessed.

WHAT WILL THE OILERS DO?

Peter Chiarelli made several bets this summer, all of them reasonable. When it comes to goaltending, it’s best to have someone qualified to step up at every step of the way: 

  • Established No. 1 NHL goalie:
  • Backup who has done everything short of being No. 1: Cam Talbot*
  • NHL Backup with some starting experience: Ben Scrivens
  • Minor league/Euro goalie with solid resume: Anders Nilsson*
  • Prospect goalie building solid NA pro resume: Laurent Brossoit
  • Prospect goalie building solid Euro pro resume: Eetu Laurikainen*

*means an add this offseason.

That’s a pretty nice group of additions, and those new goalies address different levels of the depth chart. Peter Chiarelli chose not to spend oodles of dollars on an Antti Niemi veteran and there are good reasons for it. The club is exposed in terms of experience and that probably gives Ben Scrivens a giant advantage as we enter training camp.

Talbot has plenty of experience (57 NHL games, 116 AHL games, 2 CHL games, 70 college games, 82 tier-two junior games) but is shy when it comes to being a No. 1 NHL goaltender. Where do starting goaltenders come from? Talbot’s career path is both typical and beyond the norm (his performance in pro hockey—especially the NHL—is outstanding). If the Rangers had kept Cam Talbot and used him as a backup it would have been a giant waste, there’s simply no way he should go another season with a net of his own.

WHO WILL BACKUP TALBOT?

One major item will keep Anders Nilsson from winning the backup job, and that’s NHL experience. The big Swede has just 23 games of NHL experience and despite a stunning KHL season in 2014-15 (.936 save percentage, simply off the charts) lack of NHL time is sure to influence things.

I think Ben Scrivens will be on the opening night roster as backup to Cam Talbot. Todd McLellan may choose to run with three goalies early in the season, but my guess is Anders Nilsson is traded to another NHL team (Pittsburgh is possible) before opening night. Scrivens is very likely to recover from the turmoil of last season and his 129 sorties in the NHL will give coach Todd McLellan some cover in regard to experience.

ANYONE ELSE?

Brossoit played so well last season in the AHL but it was in tandem (mostly) with Richard Bachman. Logic dictates he spends most of the coming year in Bakersfield, building trust in his play and perhaps getting an extended cup of coffee in the NHL. Eetu Laurikainen should be a capable backup and Ty Rimmer is around as needed.

OILERS PROSPECTS ON THE HORIZON

Among the group under Oilers control (Nagelvoort, Svoboda, Bouchard) none appear to be close to the kind of resume Brossoit built at the same age. Bob Green identified Brossoit for the Oilers and perhaps he and his scouting staff can find a college goalie to sign in the spring. If not, Edmonton will probably be interested in grabbing another goalie at the 2016 draft, which, if history is any indication, will result in more disappointment.

I remain hopeful the Oilers can kidnap the goalie scout Nashville employs. It’s the quickest way to solve the issue.