Laurent Brossoit need not be Edmonton’s backup next year

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Laurent Brossoit’s late-season audition for the Edmonton Oilers’ backup job hasn’t gone especially well. He’s started five games and lost five times, with a 0.873 save percentage, and outside of a strong performance in a shootout loss to Winnipeg back in February hasn’t performed particularly well in any of those games.

Fortunately for the Oilers, they aren’t necessarily locked in to playing Brossoit next season.

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Brossoit

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Brossoit starts a new, one-way contract next season, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be playing in the NHL.

Firstly, he has another year of waiver exemption. Waiver eligibility is determined by experience rather than contract status, and under the 2013 CBA goalies who start their entry-level deals at age 20 (as Brossoit did) have four years of exemption. That means he can play all of 2016-17 in the minors without Edmonton running the risk of another team claiming him.

Second, there are no particular cap repercussions to playing Brossoit in the AHL. His actual salary is just $650,000, and his cap hit of $750,000 comes in under the amount which would force the Oilers to pay a cap penalty to bury his deal in the minors.

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In other words, Edmonton can make this decision based entirely on whether or not they feel that Brossoit has earned the backup job. His 0.919 save percentage in Bakersfield suggested he was worth a shot, but his performance in the majors makes it advisable to find an insurance option.

Old Friends

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There is no shortage of backup goalie candidates in free agency this summer, and during his time with both the Oilers and previously with the Boston Bruins Peter Chiarelli has made it obvious that he isn’t afraid of turning to Europe or the minor leagues to find a goalie. There are four possibilities this summer who he has previously employed in the role.

Anders Nilsson. Edmonton ran the 6’5” Swede as its No. 2 goalie for most of the year after trading a fringe prospect to Chicago for his rights; they ultimately flipped him to St. Louis as insurance at the trade deadline in exchange for a fifth-round pick. His 0.901 save percentage with the Oilers was in line with previous NHL efforts and is consistent with the idea that he’s better-suited to a third-string role or a job overseas. He’s a restricted free agent this summer and it’s easy to imagine the Blues not qualifying him.

Niklas Svedberg. Boston brought the European free agent over in the summer of 2012 and developed him for two seasons before turning the backup role over to him in 2014-15. He posted a 0.918 save percentage over 18 games with the Bruins before returning to Europe on a one-year deal last summer.

Chad Johnson. Signed as a free agent out of the AHL in the summer of 2013, Johnson was given Boston’s backup job in 2013-14 and performed brilliantly, posting a 0.925 save percentage. He imploded the next year in the No. 2 role with the Islanders, but was Buffalo’s de facto starter for much of this season and was excellent (0.919 save percentage). If the Oilers are at all worried about Cam Talbot, he’d be a good 1B option.

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Anton Khudobin. Khudobin developed into an NHL goalie in Boston after being plucked out of Minnesota in a low-cost trade and was a fine backup in 2012-13 for the Bruins. He’s an NHL-calibre goalie but has been reduced to the No. 3 role in Anaheim. He had a 0.908 save percentage over eight NHL games this year and a 0.920 total in the minors. He’s a pending unrestricted free agent.

Lo and Behold

Peter Chiarelli

All four of the names above are plausible candidates, with the latter two in particular well-qualified for an NHL backup role. However, it’s probably just as likely that the Oilers opt for a different name, as Chiarelli has a fairly well-established pattern when it comes to backup goalies.

All four of the players listed above were virtually unknown when Chiarelli brought them in. He’s been unafraid of bringing in AHL or European goalies with little-or-no NHL experience, and cost has been a primary consideration. In all four cases above, both the acquisition cost and cap hit was modest.

He may well stick with the same pattern once again. Someone like Jeremy Smith, a 26-year-old pending UFA who has spent the last two seasons with Boston’s farm team, would fit the bill. So would AHL’er Edward Pasquale, a big 25-year-old who was once a prospect of note but has since fallen off the radar. The list of possible European options is long and varied.

What seems virtually certain is that Edmonton will make some sort of move to give itself insurance in the backup position in the event that Brossoit isn’t ready, just as it did with Ben Scrivens this past fall.

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RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS


  • shanetrain

    I had high hopes for Brossoit but it appears he needs much more seasoning. He has good size and is clearly athletic, so hopefully we see him progress to backstopping Bakersfield into the playoffs next year.

    Hard to pin down goalies for sure but it would be a mistake to count this guy out right now.

    Working on his technique in the crease has to be a priority I would guess.

  • Connor McJesus

    I feel like LB has done well making saves due to his big frame and ability to be in position. But he doesn’t control rebounds very well and in terms of athleticism, falls way short of Talbot.

    When goalie equipment shrinks, it will be evident which goalies are really being active in terms of making the cross-ice saves and which goalies were banking on their size and or position.

    I guess you need a bit of everything in today’s NHL.

    • I disagree with this.

      Nilsson got hot, then got terrible. Trading him allowed the Oilers both to take a look at Brossoit and to add a draft pick to the organization, all at the very minimal cost of a tiny bit of backup uncertainty down the stretch of a lost season.

      The Nilsson trade was a great idea. It’s too bad Brossoit hasn’t worked out, but now they know.

    • Ron Burgundy

      Why, because we were that close to a playoff run?

      Shedding an imminently replaceable 2/3 goalie for a draft pick is smart asset management, as is seeing what you have in your top goalie prospect. I know we’re not used to seeing those sorts of things around these parts though…

  • freelancer

    No need to worry about Brossoit yet, we’ve seen that he can play at an NHL level (albeit in a very small sample size). We are also aware that this is not an NHL calibre defense in front of him.

    Like any position in the NHL if you put a rookie in a position when he is not sheltered with veterans he will struggle.

    Backups are cheap and plentiful, it should not be an issue to find a veteran backup who can play 25-30 games.

  • The Goalie 1976

    I wonder if the Oilers could grab one of Calgary’s guys (Hiller or Ramo) I would shudder at having them as a starter, but they both have a ton of experience. That’s nice to have if Talbot gets hurt or has a tough December again.

    I’d take either of them on a 1 year deal if they’d accept that. They are both UFA so there would be no cost to add them other than money.

    Ughhh I feel dirty even suggesting adding a Flame.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    I’m not worried about Brossoit, but I hope he gets an NHL win before it becomes a thing. He played so well in his first 2 starts but couldn’t buy any run support. Give him one of the Vancouver games at the end of the season, those are almost a gimme at this point.

  • OilCan2

    LB can make use of the AHL to fine tune his game. If he has to come up as the #3 in depth its worth an outside shot next year.

    I bet PC already has the revolver loaded with a few good choices for back up,….

  • Mr.Snrub

    Any chance the Condors can still make the Calder Cup playoffs?

    The AHL has some strange playoff qualifications this year that for some reason don’t match the NHL.

  • Keg on Legs

    Brossoit should be in the minors playing and giving the Condors a shot at the playoffs. Chia should have grabbed Stalock off waivers and left LB in Cally.

  • Redfern

    Need to sign a veteran back-up that is solid enough for short stretches if Talbot is down/needs rest, but not good enough to prevent LB from taking over #1 in absence of Talbot if down long term.

  • Morgo_82

    I would love to see either Johnson, Enroth, Montoya or Raanta get signed for a one year deal to be the backup. Brossoit has indicated that he needs at least one more year in the minors, which would benefit him greatly anyways. I still think he’s a blue chip prospect and our future number one goalie.

  • Oilerz4life

    Gotta love trade rumors, probably none of these guys would dare come to Edmonton, goalie graveyard. Pee Wee rep team defense. Poor LB, will probably go back to Bakersfield all shattered and broken inside.

    • CaptainLander

      LB Struggled in Bakersfield (ECHL) when he first made the move from JR. He improved and dominated that league. Apparently this did not break him inside. He then struggled in his start in OKC. Only to overcome this and be an excellent tender in the AHL. So why would he not have the same struggles in the NHL and not be able to overcome this.

      LB needs games at the NHL level to improve at the NHL level. Chia obviously knows this and has decided to give him this experience at the end of a lost season.

      I predict LB is back in Bakersfield next year to start and an experienced backup is brought in. If by Feb next year and the Oil are in the basement again you will see him back with the Oil.

    • Great White

      There’s only 60 jobs available for goaltenders at any time. But no, Edmonton sucks right? I’m sure they’d rather make $50,000 riding the buses in Germany… Unbelievable. The total lack of any reasoning abilities.

  • TKB2677

    Not having Brossoit has nothing to do with him not being that great since the Nilsson deal. It had everything to do with him not being ready, not rushing a kid and creating organizational depth and competition. The Oilers for years have always been paper thin when it came to depth at any position. They might have enough to ice an NHL team but to do that, they have taken all the real close players from the minors – the tweeners- and given them NHL jobs. So as soon as one guy gets injured, they are screwed. They are forced to call up a guy that isn’t close to ready.

    By signing a vet back up, you allow Brossoit to start in the minors which for a goalie, playing is critical to development. You allow him to continue to develop and maybe “over develop”. You also create competition at the position because they have a guy pushing from below. Plus if an injury happens, you have a guy waiting that can come in and you can carry on. If Brossoit is your back up and the next in line is Laurakinen, and someone goes down, they are screwed.

  • Spydyr

    Instead of anointing Cam starter for the year why not pick up a goalie that can push him for the starting job?

    Nah, that makes to much sense the OIlers would never do that.

  • RJ

    From a cap perspective, it would have been ideal for Brossoit to be ready. I think it’s clear he isn’t currently. I would guess that a quality veteran back-up would cost between $1.5m – $2.5m.

    If you’re spending $6m+ for your goalies next season, how much is left for the rest of the team, absent major moves?

    • pkam

      Not sure how much you expect to spend on the goalies. 6M is actually on the low side. Most teams spend 7M+ for their goalies. Just look at the Lames, they have tied up 8M+ on their two goalies and both goalies’ SV% are near the bottom of the list.

        • pkam

          Not sure what you really want to know. The cap is either 71.4 or 74M. So we either have 65M or 68M for the other players.

          Since most teams spend 7-9M on their goalies, we have 1-3M more to spend on other players.

          And McDavid will be 9M as a RFA and 10M+ as a UFA so we are saving 5-6M+ on his ELC alone.

          Cap shouldn’t be a problem next year, probably not the year after. Not until McDavid and Nurse ELCs expire and RFAs start.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    I’m OK with Broissoit playing all or most of next season in the AHL, but I’m kinda wondering if the “fandom” is. Are we all capable of allowing him to toil in the minors for one more year and resisting the temptation to call him a “failed prospect?” Our record so far this season with Griffin Reinhart suggests that we may not be.

  • 24_McClelland

    Brossoit hasn’t done anything in 5 games to indicate that he ‘should’ be the backup next year, there’s flaws there that even laypeople can see. With some work in the offseason, he could still have a chance to earn the job in camp. The Oilers need to be bringing some competence in with an eye on filling that position.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Can only protect one goalie going into the summer of 2017 expansion draft. Brossoit will be fine spending another full season in the AHL. You don’t want him to blossom just in time for Las Vegas to help themselves to a couple players you’re going to need.

    Sekera and Pouliot may be expendable by then. Those are the kind of contracts the Oilers would like taken off your hands.

  • Jaxon

    For me Chad Johnson looks like he might be the best fit.

    He’s played well in Buffalo this season and is a former goalie of Chiarelli’s (where he posted a .925% over 27 games). He’s got decent numbers (although his time in NYI was not good) with a .916 career SV% and a career .924 ES SV%.

    Talbot and Johnson have played 3 seasons together already so there should be a comfort level there. He was born in Saskatoon, raised in Alberta and played in the AJHL so maybe they could nab him for a relatively cheap contract on a hometown discount. Could they get him for under $2M?

    I’d go 3 years at $2M per for sure and Talbot / Johnson is your duo for Talbot’s whole contract. Expansion may be the worry on that deal though. Then again, I think every team is only to lose one player per expansion team max, so there could be worse scenarios.

  • oilers need to trade all of there young players and get old quick, I’m talking joe thorton for mcdavid iginla for dri and chara for hall this team needs veterans, also rnh, for jager might be a smart move, also fire everybody from the top to the bottom.

  • Hockey Buddha

    Five games is not a lot to judge a player on. If that was the case, we likely would have given up on Cam Talbot earlier in the season, before he started playing well. Brossoit will make a solid NHL goalie at some point. Is he ready now for next season? He hasn’t shown well enough so far. It could just be a combination of nerves and adjustment to the NHL game, and he may very well get that out of the way and be ready to go for next season.

    The trouble for Brossoit is that Edmonton can ill afford to gamble on such an important position. This franchise must do a complete 180 next season. The fewer the question marks at each position the better. The franchise owes it to the fans and to the young players, like Hall, who have been here for an eternity to be a whole lot better than it has been. I think Chiarelli needs to cover his bases with a solid veteran on a one-year deal. If Brossoit is ready next season, he should have to out perform someone to earn the position.

  • toprightcorner

    Glad LB got a few games in the NHL, it confirmed for the team and him that he needs more developing. He has only been an AHL starter for 1 year, he needs at least 1 more year as AHL starter and likely 2 more years in AHL.

    His development will stall as soon as he tends the bench for 60 games a year. wait until Talbot is entering the 3rd year of his 4 year contract, the LB can be the back up and hopefully the following season he can push Talbot for the starter. I believe that is the main reason he got 4 year contract, PC new it would be 3 years before LB could be considered starter material. That also fits in the timeline these days as becoming a starter in the NHL at age 25 or 26.

    I would like to see chad Johnson as the back up. Has career .919 SV%, 29 years old has experience as a backup and also having to fill in for injured starter, that is exactly whet the Oilers need for the next 2 years. He is now a $1.3 cap hit, can probably sign him for 2 years at 2.8 mill which fits in nice with Talbots salary.

    DO NOT RUSH LB