SQUEEZING OUT SPARKS

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The word we’re getting is that the Edmonton Oilers could be facing a fascinating prospect tonight in Toronto. With James Reimer injured and Jonathan Bernier struggling, prospect Garret Sparks could make his NHL debut. Before we get excited, let’s check out this AHL phenom, and compare him to Edmonton’s goalie-in-waiting, Laurent Brossoit.

Sparks is even more of a long shot in terms of draft pedigree than Laurent Brossoit:

  • Brossoit chosen No. 164 overall in 2011 by Calgary
  • Sparks chosen No. 190 overall in 2011 by Toronto

In truth, that was an interesting talking point on draft day but after that it’s all about the work and the development—both men doing plenty of both. It’s fun to track players who are drafted same year because all things should be somewhat equal. We know prospects don’t develop in a straight line, but using save percentage we should see how the race is going—and it’s pretty clear these are quality prospects.

HEAD TO HEAD, BY YEAR

  • 2011-12: Sparks (OHL) .907; Brossoit (WHL) .914
  • 2012-13: Sparks (OHL) .917; Brossoit WHL) .917 (even)
  • 2013-14: Sparks (ECHL) .916; Brossoit (ECHL) .923 
  • 2014-15: Sparks (ECHL) .936; Brossoit (AHL) .918 (different levels)
  • 2015-16: Sparks (AHL) .938; Brossoit (AHL) .931

I’m being unfair to Sparks here, he played more games in the AHL in 2013-14 (21, .915) but wanted to get these men at the same level as often as possible. It looks even to me, how about you? Sparks is having a better year this season but it’s early days and one outing could change things.

WHAT TO EXPECT?

Well, let’s ask our friends from Leafs Nation in the article linked above:

It’ll be interesting to see how Sparks takes advantage of this game. The
Leafs aren’t exactly great, but they aren’t the Oilers, so he gets a
bit of an easier first go at things than one would expect.

I think that’s fair, this is a pretty good spot for Sparks. Remember when Brossoit stopped 49 of 51 against the San Jose Sharks and Todd McLellan? Those things can happen. The Oilers can’t be worried about the goalie, but can be a little disappointed they won’t see Bernier who has struggled badly. It should be a fun game! 

  • I tried it at home

    I’ve always thought Sparks would be a good name for flamers farm team. I honestly didn’t realise Broissoit was picked so low, but I’m happy he was a throw in on the Smid trade. Right now just with him I think we won that one.

  • freelancer

    Because its the Oilers…. Mr. Sparks will be lights out tonight…(remember when Curtis Sanford and Jason Labarbara would always beat the Oilers handily).

    Oilers won’t throw quite enough rubber at the goalie and lose the game like 3-1 or something…

    The scoring chances they will have will mostly be stopped by this Goalie…

    Sparks will crap the bed in his next game against the Jets letting in 5 before being pulled.

  • freelancer

    I think Sparks will do well, however time to start knocking some respect back into Toronto.

    All this trade talk – don’t trade all our young talent. The D are filled with potential and holding their own. The forwards are also filled with skilled talent even if half of it presently sidelined.

    Where is the muscle? Hard hitting, gritty, don’t back down muscle to create space and turnovers? Hendricks needs some help out there and if nobody else shows up, that will be our trade needs. Just my thoughts.

  • freelancer

    The Oilers game plan tonight has to be to get shots on net from all directions as early as possible. Like Brossoit there is a tendency to see goaltenders like this come dialed in wanting to make a good impression.

    We cannot let him get comfortable with the game, get guys in front of the net. While I definitely do not condone trying to injure a player, making life difficult for Sparks in front of the net and pushing at the puck when he has covered it up should be fair game.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    The kid will be nervous, throw a ton of rubber at him and score the first goal. Better win is all I can say. The last thing we want to hear all year is Leaf fans.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    A team usually plays tighter with a new goalie in the net and Oil probably don’t have a ‘book’ on this goalie. Oil will have to have more physical presence around the net and score on scrambles, forget the set plays and tictactoe.

  • pkam

    So the Leafs recall a 22 years old AHL goalie to start because Jonathan Bernier struggles?

    Didn’t 2 years ago some armchair GMs here who think they are smarter than MacT and KLowe said Bernier was so much better than Dubnyk and wanted to trade one of our young core players for Bernier to replace Dubnyk?

  • Old Soldier

    Sigh….personally I could care less who is net for the Leafs, I just want the Oilers to explode tonight to shut those goofballs O’Neill and that Maclellan up at Leafs Lunch…..let them laugh at the Oil tomorrow looking up at us in the standings….please…..

    give an old man his small victory

  • Colin M

    THIS PAST SUMMER – I never would have believed i’d have to sit there and take a “the Leafs are bad, but they’re not Oilers bad” comment and swallow it a quarter of the way through the season. We can’t even really muster a come back to that when we’re looking up at them in the standings. Just you wait til…

    FML 🙁

    SO LETS START TONIGHT!!!! Help a fan out boys. Go Oilers Go.

  • ComeAtMeDog

    Oil come out firing after Mcdavid makes a appearance in dressing room ..

    Sparks is getting lit up !!!

    Ebs scores again .
    Dre scores .

    Nurse scares the leafs in all scrums and we win the game

  • CMG30

    Not going to be any middle ground here. Sparks will be lights out, or the Oil are going to put his lights out.

    Hate to call this a must-win game, but it is. More-so than the Pittsburgh game. The Oil need to be beating teams like the Leafs on a regular basis to demonstrate that they have actually taken a step this year. When they start doing that, the standings will sort themselves out by the end of the season.

  • ComeAtMeDog

    It’ll be interesting to see how Sparks takes advantage of this game. The Leafs aren’t exactly great, but they aren’t the Oilers, so he gets a bit of an easier first go at things than one would expect.

    Oilers 8-2 would be a nice end to this night.