Laurent Brossoit is back in Edmonton, and tonight will start his second career NHL game. His previous start was a beautiful 49-save performance against Todd McLellan’s San Jose Sharks in which he allowed just two goals, though as he was playing for the 2006-present Oilers he is still looking for his first career win.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 13, 2016
Brossoit has developed nicely in the AHL. A year ago, he went 25-22-4 with a 0.918 save percentage for Oklahoma City; this season he’s gone 14-8-3 with a 0.921 save percentage for the Bakersfield Condors.
We’re at the point now where we can start seriously talking about Brossoit’s graduation to the NHL, and that’s a storyline to watch over the last two months of the season. If he plays well, he’ll make a strong case to be in the majors next year. That will be especially true if Cam Talbot continues to play well, as a strong run from Edmonton’s starting goalie would make it easier to go with a rookie backup next season.
And don’t forget the financial benefits to this. Brossoit will be dirt-cheap on his qualifying offer next year, and it’s also reasonable to think that Edmonton can probably lock him down for two seasons at close to the league minimum if they make his contract a one-way deal. If Brossoit can provide effective backup goaltending that has value; that he can do it on a cap-friendly deal would be even more significant.
His audition starts tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.
Lineups courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com, your best resource for fantasy hockey.
So that top line is going pretty good, eh? Connor McDavid is obviously driving the unit; he’s an exceptional player and still miles away from his prime years. Jordan Eberle is a quality first-line right wing in his own right and playing with McDavid makes him even better. Meanwhile Pouliot is a nice complement to the other two; he’s fast enough to keep up, but more inclined toward the physical and defensive things that Eberle doesn’t bring to the line. As I’ve written previously, he’s also a legitimate top-six winger offensively.
After that, oh boy.
Taylor Hall is a good player and Zack Kassian’s offensive skills are terribly underrated—he’s topped 1.8 points/hour the last two seasons, which is top-six territory at even-strength—but Mark Letestu doesn’t belong anywhere near this high in the lineup. He presently ranks 14th among Oilers forwards with more than 10 games played this season by points/hour; in an average shift he’s only slightly more likely than Eric Gryba to manage a point. Of course, he’s only there because the Leon Draisaitl/Teddy Purcell duo hasn’t worked all that well with Hall for the last little bit; now they get to try and work with Iiro Pakarinen, who typically has not done well when promoted beyond a checking role.
It’s really the kind of game where Edmonton misses Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who would afford McLellan all kinds of other options.
Then there’s the fourth line.
Colleague Matt Henderson wrote already today about how bad Lauri Korpikoski has been and he’s entirely correct. Nail Yakupov joins him on the fourth line and certainly seems to be mired in the doghouse. One wonders a little what the plan is with Yakupov. The Oilers need scoring but apparently don’t trust him to provide it, and they certainly aren’t showcasing him for a trade. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when McLellan and Peter Chiarelli discuss the plan for the 2012 No. 1 pick.
No surprises on defence. Andrej Sekera/Mark Fayne has been a pretty effective pairing for the Oilers; the more I see it I wonder whether it wouldn’t be a good idea to make that the second pair for next season and find somebody good to come in and play with Oscar Klefbom on the top unit, leaving Brandon Davidson and Darnell Nurse as the third unit.
Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little have been the Jet’s dynamic offensive duo for most of the season, generally playing with Andrew Ladd but tonight next to the very exciting Nikolaj Ehlers. The duo of Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault have been very good this season, though Drew Stafford seems to be having another one of his bad years. The bottom-six is a wasteland; it’s Ladd plus two guys who wish they could score like Korpikoski plus three guys who wish they could score like Pakarinen.
Winnipeg’s defence is actually pretty decent, but the only goalie who has been any good for them this season just got banished to the minors. Instead of facing Connor Hellebuyck, the Oilers get a chance to enjoy the Ondrej Pavelec experience. Pavelec hasn’t played since November; over his past 12 games he is 3-5-1 with a 0.897 save percentage.
What They’re Saying
Tonight the Jets take on the Oilers in Edmonton. If they want to not get any points, the Jets need to keep playing the same lackluster game they’ve been playing for a while now. Change nothing. Be crappy. Viva la tank.
Game day prediction: Both Edmonton and Winnipeg are bad teams, separated in the standings by just two points. Brossoit will be excellent in his first NHL game since last year and that will be enough for a 3-1 victory, moving the Oilers and Jets into a tie (with the Jets having played fewer games).
Obvious game day prediction: McDavid’s line will score at least one goal.
Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Korpikoski and Letestu will both be involved in scoring plays at even-strength.
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