The state of Oiler netminding is once again a problem.
It’s getting to be comical how the team cannot find anybody
who can just take the job and run with it for a little while. The opportunities
for both Nilsson and Talbot have been there all season but nobody has seized
them. It would be funnier if the same thing couldn’t have been said about the
last four five Oiler goaltenders.
The team is going through would-be starting goaltenders faster
than Spinal Tap drummers. David, Smell The Glove is here!
In the last two games the Oilers have started both Talbot
and Nilsson only to have to pull each of them in favor of the guy backing up. Cam
Talbot has a lowly .901 save percentage and Nilsson is just vaguely better with
a .908 save percentage.
It’s not good enough. The Oilers don’t have the kind of team
that can overcome even mediocre goaltending. Frankly, they need their stoppers
to steal them games if they want to stay close to a Playoff spot.
Right now Anders Nilsson’s save percentage is ranked 38th
by NHL goaltenders with at least 10 games played. Cam Talbot is 44th
by the same measure.
The club is still weeks away from potentially being healthy
for the first time all season. Davidson should be back against the Ducks.
Klefbom maybe shortly after that. However, Yakupov and McDavid are still going to
be gone for an extended period of time. Without any cavalry on the way, the
hero of the season has to emerge from between the pipes.
And that’s where I start to wonder how much longer the
Oilers can keep passing the opportunities back and forth between Cam Talbot and
Anders Nilsson before they have to look somewhere else. I’m not necessarily talking
about a trade, but Chiarelli has quickly traded players he acquired in the
past. It is not out of the realm of possibilities that he cuts bait on one of
these men before the trade deadline passes.
However, I didn’t have the trade market in mind. The Oilers
are sitting on a very good goaltending prospect in Laurent Brossoit down in the
AHL. If this tandem of Talbot and Nilsson continues to stumble their way
through the season, at what point will the team be forced to call upon their
best goalie prospect?
Brossoit has taken a very traditional route up through the
system even though he started with the Flames. His Jr career saw him become the
starter of the Edmonton Oil Kings. He had a good but not great save percentage
in the WHL, but he won 42 games one year for the team. He was selected in the sixth
round by the Flames and eventually graduated to being a pro in their system.
He made his way back to Edmonton as the principle return in
the Ladislav Smid trade. Today that deal looks like a steal for the Oilers, but
at the time it robbed the team of a defender and replaced him with nothing in
In that first year pro Brossoit didn’t fare well in
the AHL but his ECHL numbers were solid (.923 sv% with Bakersfield). Last year
he graduated up to the AHL and put up decent but not gaudy numbers again (.918
sv%). He also got into one NHL game last year and was pretty close to posting a
shutout in that game but Jultz ruined that too.
This year the California division of the AHL is playing
fewer games than the rest of the league, so his games are fewer than before,
but he has taken another step forward. Brossoit is 7th among the AHL’s
save percentage leaders with a quality .928 sv%. He is 16GP, 10-4-2, 3 SO,
.928, 2.47 on the season so far.
I don’t think there’s any question that the Oilers want the
22 year old goaltender to keep learning and plying his craft in the AHL for as
long as humanly possible. The real question is how much longer will Talbot and
Nilsson be preferable to Brossoit if all three keep playing the way they are?