WWYDW: Is it time to replace Anders Nilsson with Laurent Brossoit?


Faced with the second half of back-to-back games on Tuesday night, Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan decided to give backup goalie Anders Nilsson a start. Nilsson was shelled, allowing five goals on 30 shots; it was the eighth consecutive game in which his save percentage came in under 0.900.

In this week’s WWYDW, we ask whether it’s time to turn to prospect Laurent Brossoit to address the position.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Anders Nilsson


Nilsson has had his ups and his downs, rising incredibly high during the former and collapsing entirely during the latter. Over the season as a whole he has played 24 games, with a 0.903 save percentage, a figure which ranks him No. 50 among the 58 goalies to play at least 10 games this season.

This isn’t exactly unprecedented. Over 23 previous games with the New York Islanders, Nilsson managed a 0.898 save percentage, which means that this year has actually been an improvement on what he did with his first NHL team. Over his career as a whole, he has a 0.901 save percentage; that ranks him No. 73 of the 77 goalies to play more than 40 games since 2011-12.

Nilsson also struggled with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In his last two seasons with the club he flirted with a 0.900 save percentage, managing a 0.899 number in 2012-13 and a 0.901 number in 2013-14, at which point he decamped for the KHL. He played well in the KHL, but given that his team (Kazan Ak-Bars) last had a sub-0.930 save percentage goalie in 2011-12, it’s hard to read too much into that.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

He might yet recover, but the evidence (or at least my read of it) strongly suggests that Nilsson is a replacement-level goaltender in the NHL. His one-way, $1.0 million contract means that he would still count against the NHL salary cap in the minors, but only to the tune of $50,000.

This is an extremely easy player to demote.

Laurent Brossoit


Both Craig MacTavish and the Oilers’ overemphasis on former Oil Kings catch a lot of flak these days, but Brossoit may be the exception. He had a 0.887 WHL save percentage when he was drafted by Calgary, but turned that around over two further seasons with the Oil Kings. He was traded to the Oilers just five games into his first pro campaign, and since then his development has been pretty impressive:

  • 2013-14, age 20, ECHL: 24-9-2 record, 0.923 save percentage
  • 2014-15, age 21, AHL: 25-22-4 record, 0.918 save percentage
  • 2015-16, age 22, AHL: 11-7-3 record, 0.927 save percentage

This is a player knocking on the door of NHL duty. He got into one game last year and did nothing to dissuade optimism, turning aside 49 of 51 shots faced in his first major-league start.

The Decision


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The development angle makes this tough. Brossoit is in only his second full AHL campaign and has less than 100 games played in the league. This is the first year where he’s operated without a real safety net (thanks to Ben Scrivens’ struggles); last season the coaches often turned to veteran No. 3 Richard Bachman. There’s value in leaving him in the AHL, letting him put in a bunch of games.

There’s also a chance that with more time, Nilsson will recover his early season form. 

On the other hand, NHL experience for Brossoit has value, too. Nilsson is a restricted free agent this summer and the Oilers will have to find a backup for Talbot. Brossoit might make the jump, and it makes sense that Edmonton might want to give him a trial run in what’s left of this season. The Oilers are also only six points out of the playoffs; every point still counts and having a competent backup in the majors could be very important. A win against the Lightning on Tuesday would have dropped the gap to just four points, and with a competent backup it’s likely the Oilers would have managed a win.

A third option is to use Nilsson as a bench-warmer, and recall Brossoit for the odd game where the team wants to give Talbot a rest; he could come up for a day or two, play the game, and then head back to the minors. The downside is sidelining Nilsson entirely and treating Brossoit like a yoyo.

So, dear comments section: What should the Oilers do?


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

  • Himynameistaylor

    I definitely didn’t enjoy last night’s game. Nilsson started to struggle ever since we got that 7-5 win against the Rangers. Every point matters and especially we keep playing more games than all of our other division rivalries. I want LB to come up now but I’m just worried that’ll mess up his development. If Nilsson keeps playing like this though, I’ll recall LB to backup Talbot. We still have a chance for the playoffs but we have to stop losing games like last night if Nilsson was sharper!

  • ubermiguel

    So the KHL goalie with 19 games previous NHL experience isn’t working out? Shocking. Nilsson has marginally better numbers than Scrivens did last year, and that was the worst of Scrivens’ NHL career. I’m still not convinced Scrivens as a backup (which is what he was in LA) would be worse than Nilsson right now.

  • Surgeons Knot

    Wait until Nilsson gets hot again and trade him, then bring up LB. Get what you can for him at the deadline – hopefully a draft pick, any draft pick. No doubt LB is well deserving to be our backup next year, no need to rush him up this year. Talbot and Brossoit is a 1-2 tandem I will feel comfortable with for the first time in years.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    My frustration after last night’s game wants LB to come up, but common sense tells me that he should stay and develop a while longer. My other frustrations are Yak and Lander – they are doing nothing to earn an extension. My surprise? Kassian. Initially I either wanted to slap his face (HARD)or give him a good shake/tongue lashing. After watching him play for us, I think I’d just like to hug him!

  • Positive Ray of Sunshine

    How is this even a discussion? Brossoit is 22 with what, 85 games in the AHL?
    Don’t even discuss him playing another NHL game until either Talbot or Nilsson have an injury or until mid season next year.

    Hey! Our backup at the moment is going through a rough stretch, let’s drop everything and bring the kid in!

    Where was this discussion when Nilsson was standing on his head and had the #1 spot?

    This sounds like Willis making his quota for blogs thrown up on the web.

    • Positive Ray of Sunshine

      Agreed. If the idea is to turn Brossoit into an NHL starting goalie, I say even give him another year in the AHL again next year and give him a full work load! Get him use to playing a lot of games!!

      We have talbot for 3 more years after this like it or not… So no rush on Brossoit

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    You need your prospects developing.

    Bringing Brossoit up stunts his development.

    Oilers just signed Talbot as the starter.

    Pretty easy decision. Give Talbot the majority of starts and play Nilsson like a backup.

    Not only would I not bring Brossoit up this season I would also let him develop another year in the AHL next season as the starter. Brossoit doesn’t need to clear waivers next season.

    • Even the colour man said there was stick contact with the puck.PVR goes at 1/15 per frame, there was definitely contact making it high sticking and should not have counted. And 0 explanation from the ref’s to the bench. Even my Flames fan buddy said we got screwed, but also mentioned it seems to be a pattern when a US based team plays a Canadian team. (not just the Oilers). Tin Foil hat stuff, but definitely has me wondering about the discrepancies in calls vs non calls. If there is directions from head office, I wonder what they tell the officiating crews when two Canadian teams are playing?

      • Reg Dunlop

        The replay I saw after the game, it does look to me that the puck was contacted lower than the crossbar.

        The swing was definitely came from above. I think it was a goal but I would sure like to see the NHL penalize players swinging their sticks above their shoulders or armpits or crossbars.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Nilsson sucked against T-Bay and shouldn’t play much the rest of the season! he’s ice cold. i am not against bringing up LB for a few games, but i think he really should spend the rest of the season in the AHL.

  • JohnnySkidmarks

    Biggest mistake would be bringing up Brossoit now. I agree with keeping him south in Bako, even another full year with the Condors won’t hurt anything, the more experience the better. Nilsson isn’t bad, he’s a Jekyll and Hyde tender-streaky as hell. With Tabs being anointed as the full time starter, the lineup we have right now is a good problem to have. We definitely don’t want history repeating itself and it looks like Chia is taking the high road. Keep LB down in the minors and let him over-ripen!

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      A lot of people on here don’t seem to have any clue how goalies are developed. They almost always start their careers in the NHL as a backup. Very very rarely does a goalie go from full time AHL goalie to full time NHL goalie. They prove themselves in the AHL then are brought into the league as a backup until they outright win the job…

  • Himynameistaylor

    I agree with baggedmilk…this season is a bust (most likely) so let’s keep him down in the minors and and play the $#!t out of him! Next year’s training camp should be a real battle! (I can’t believe I’m saying this AGAIN!)

  • Mcmagicmitts

    The ders has struggled ever since…… Oscar Klefbom has been injured. This really does make quite the impact on the team overall. Having a guy out there like brad hunt over Oscar klefbom definitely plays a role in nilssons success. (Or lack there of in this case). I know it’s been said a billion times, but with a full healthy squad I do see Nilsson being a competent back up tender. Only real problem is, WHEN THE HELL ARE THE OILERS EVER HEALTHY????

  • JohnnySkidmarks

    Looks like we once again are looking to the trade deadline and the June draft.

    I hope the Oilers are buyers at the trade line and not sellers.

    For example – Purcell – either they sign him (at a reduced salary) for next year or trade him for a NHL player with a few years left on his contract.

    In other words no more draft picks for players. We will never get ahead if we let NHL players go and continue to draft young players, especially 2nd round and onward.

    Next year our 3 centers are McDavid – 19 years, Drai – 20 years and Nuge 23 years.

    Oilers wont win next year unless they are surrounded by NHL veterans.

    • ubermiguel

      I’m not sure why you would hope the Oilers would be buyers this season?

      I think everyone knew this season was going to be a year for Chiarelli to evaluate what he has and what moves he needs to make in this upcoming off season. If the Oilers do make the playoffs that would just be a bonus.

      Scott Zerr just wrote a Report Card on the Bakersfield Condors and well…. I think its safe to say the Oilers cupboards are pretty bare with upcoming NHL prospects.

      If the Oilers trade away Schultz/Purcell/Nikitin for draft picks to give Chiarelli’s scout team some room to refill the cupboards I’m ok with that.

        • mithaman

          So your resolution to solve the Oilers problems are to trade draft picks for NHL veterans at the deadline for a playoff push?

          If that’s the case, if the Oilers end up missing the playoffs (which is very likely) the value of those draft picks you traded away just went up and no guarantee the player you traded for is going to re-sign and can walk in the off season.

          The logical move here is to be sellers at the deadline and trade away our NHL vets we won’t re-sign (Schultz/Purcell/Niktin) for whatever draft picks we can get. Chairelli can head into the off season with Cap space and trading chips with those draft picks to acquire the NHL vets you were originally trying to push for at the deadline.

      • Positive Ray of Sunshine

        I agree @total points. The oilers currently have a complete NHL forward group, at least when healthy. What they don’t have is guys knocking down the door that can come in and play a middle 6 role on a cheap ELC.
        When the cap becomes a concern in 3 years we are going to need guys to play wing and be productive for cheap as McDavid and Drai are going to need to be paid. Adding talent that can be 20-21 years old at that time is going to be important if you are hoping to build a consistent contender. Getting those players in the system now allows you the luxury of trading picks or prospects for veterans when you are truly a cup contender.

  • Positive Ray of Sunshine

    The next step in Brossoit’s progression to being an NHL goalie is as a backup in the NHL. That is an unavoidable fact. His performance this year points to him being ready for that. I’m not sure why so many people think bringing him up now would set him back.

    Sitting on the bench and watching a few games, getting intel on NHL players and systems, working closely with the coaching staff, getting used to the new surroundings and facing NHL talent are all things that will benefit him. I would bring LB up for a short (5 game?) stretch after the all star break and let him start a couple. He is not going to be hurt by sitting on the bench for 3 NHL games. It would keep him on the steep part of the learning curve.

    Given the way Nilsson has played, I doubt he would get plucked off waivers so I would send him down. In that time, I would run him hard in Bakersfield and see if he can get his game back. Until then, I would not give him another start.

  • I think it would be better for Brossoit’s development to have him playing the starter’s role in Bakersfield. Sitting on the bench behind Talbot doesn’t do much for him apart from give him the best seats (or worst depending on the night) in the house.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Broissoit should not be called up to sit out 80% of the games. He needs the work. However I would like to see him called up during a week when Bakersfield has a break in their schedule to play a game in the show and then returned.

    Nilsson will find his form again, he is just one of those hot/cold guys.

  • Bi-Curious Gord

    For now, keep LB in the minors where he can continue to develop. The Oilers have Talbot locked up so just give him the ball and let him run with it, including back to back nights if he’s playing well. I think it’s more important for LB to continue to see a lot of game action as opposed to riding the pine.

    • Couldn’t agree more. This has the added bonus of ensuring that Talbot has the full starter experience this year and is more prepared for the role next year when I expect the real push for the playoffs to begin. Would serve LB poorly to play something like 10 games the rest of the way.

  • Dan 1919

    “and with a competent backup it’s likely the Oilers would have managed a win.”

    I’ve often disagreed with people blindly defending Oiler goalies these last few years, because well, they’ve been terrible.

    But I will say that IMO Nilsson played good enough for a backup. Sure he let that SH one in at the end and should have stayed in his net, but why was he even put in that situation. Why was there a breakaway against on the PP.

    The Oilers were scrambly, and had a horrendous power play last night. Nilsson certainly didn’t have a game to write home about, and he has to improve… but I blame last night’s game on the players this time.

  • Ready to Win

    With our current defence the only development opportunity for Laurent in Edmonton is the development of post traumatic stress disorder. He needs to play a lot of minutes this year and next, so that means AHL.

    Maybe a few games this year and next with the big club to get a taste, and then let him come up in the 2017-18 season and knock on Cam’s door on our way to Lord Stanley. Look at a guy like Jacob Markstrom in Vancouver – highly touted, got rushed, took a step back, and now at 25 finally seems to have put it together. Laurent is only 22.