WWYDW: Finding a backup goaltender

1-Brossoit-1

One of the Edmonton Oilers’ secondary needs this summer is
in net. Cam Talbot was acquired last season to be the team’s starting goalie,
and he did a good enough job that Edmonton signed him to a multi-year extension.
However the backup position, currently held by Laurent Brossoit, is clearly up for grabs and there are a
number of free agents worth consideration from the Oilers.

In this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday, we
ask who Edmonton should be looking at.

The Chart

Player
Age 
Height
2015-16 TOI
2015-16 SV%
2012-16 TOI
2012-16 SV%
Cam Talbot
28
6’3″
2537
0.921
5188
0.928
James Reimer
28
6’2″
1787
0.940
6062
0.926
Chad Johnson
30
6’3″
2070
0.926
4273
0.925
Jhonas Enroth
28
5’10”
689
0.938
4702
0.924
Anton Khudobin
30
5’11”
288
0.882
4165
0.919
Jeff Zatkoff
29
6’2″
580
0.921
1526
0.919
Karri Ramo
30
6’2″
1764
0.918
4911
0.918
Al Montoya
31
6’2″
1054
0.927
3336
0.917
Carter Hutton
30
6’1″
769
0.928
3291
0.917
Ben Scrivens
29
6’2″
638
0.928
5813
0.916
Cam Ward
32
6’1″
2487
0.918
6924
0.916
Alex Stalock
29
6′
522
0.888
2555
0.915
Jonas Gustavsson
31
6’4″
1003
0.914
2701
0.914
Anders Lindback
28
6’6″
670
0.911
3886
0.912
Niklas Backstrom
38
6’2″
173
0.870
3621
0.908

Using NHL
Numbers
for contract information and HockeyAnalysis for statistical
details, I was able to compile a list of pending free agent goaltenders, along with
some key information on the play of each. Age is as of July 1, 2016, and all
statistics (ice-time and save percentage) are from 5-on-5 situations only. Cam
Talbot is listed for comparison purposes only.

One quick note: I have excluded AHL players for obvious
reasons, though of course it’s possible that the Oilers would consider someone
like Jeremy
Smith
, a strong minor-leaguer with ties to Peter Chiarelli. I also excluded
NHL’ers who had signed in Europe. Anton Khudobin is on this list, but is likely to head
to the KHL at some point this summer.  

The Candidates

I’ve presented these players in order of average 5-on-5 save
percentage over the last four seasons, and the list of plausible candidates is
short enough that we can consider them individually.

There are three names that have clearly separated themselves
from the rest of the list:

  • James Reimer is the top goalie on the market this summer,
    and as such seems an unlikely fit in Edmonton. There are a few teams in need of
    a new starter and Reimer is a plausible candidate for one of those jobs.
  • Chad Johnson doesn’t get enough respect. He’s big, he’s
    reasonably young and he has a fine track record. He also has ties to Chiarelli,
    having previously played in Boston, and is an excellent candidate for the
    backup job in Edmonton. His experience in Buffalo this year should have
    adequately prepared him for the task of playing behind the Oilers defence, and
    his ability to fill-in as starter for a stretch is a plus.
  • Jhonas Enroth’s name often comes up, and for good reason. He’s
    undersized, but he’s young and at the right price-point would be a good fit
    with the Oilers. Like both Reimer and Johnson, he has history performing well
    for poor NHL teams.

After those three, what I would define as the second tier
includes seven names:

  • Anton Khudobin is another player with ties to Chiarelli from
    Boston, but one would imagine he’s worth more as a KHL starter than an NHL
    backup.
  • Jeff Zatkoff is likely to be one of the cheapest names on
    this list, and as a pure backup he’s not a bad option. He’s reasonably big,
    reasonably young and has been a reasonably strong AHL’er when not in the
    majors.
  • Karri Ramo would be a good fit, but he got a fairly hefty
    contract last year and he’s just not worth that kind of money. His numbers
    suggest that he’s a pure backup but he seems to be regarded as a 1A/1B goalie.
    I’d consider circling back to him late in free agency if the price is right, he’s
    still looking for work and the Oilers are still looking for a goalie.
  • Al Montoya and Carter Hutton have extremely similar profiles.
    Both have pure backup-type numbers over the last four years in 3300-odd minutes,
    and both are coming off very strong performances in 2015-16. I weight the
    long-term record heavily and would note that both played for conservative
    clubs, so I would only consider these players as options if they came cheap.
  • Ben Scrivens is an obvious non-starter for Edmonton.
  • Cam Ward is a famous player and I’d bet he gets more money
    than his performance would dictate he’s actually worth, so I’d pass.

The final tier consists of players whose four-year numbers
suggest they shouldn’t be seriously considered. Alex Stalock is small, imploded
this year and has a decidedly mediocre four-year record. Jonas Gustavsson and Anders
Lindback have spent most of their careers disappointing general managers.
Niklas Backstrom seems to have passed his best before date. None of these
players should be candidates for Edmonton.

In Peter Chiarelli’s shoes, what would you do? Would you
sign one of the above players, lean on prospect Laurent Brossoit, acquire an
AHL or European goalie or trade for a suitable backup?

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ^me too. he’d be the guy i’d want the Oilers to try to get. proved this year he can start when asked and was effective. good to have if Talbot gets injured or plays mediocre.

  • Scrivens at .928 and .916 last two years is off the list? Yeah we traded him but it seems to me he’s a legit choice if we spun the story as “The Professor Returns” sorta thing. If I remember he has a house in Spruce Grove. Might be an easy conversation.

    *Not trolling. It’s an honest question.

  • Randaman

    You really had to show the two biggest fools that Sportsnet has to offer? Those two are made for each other.

    P.S. Fools was being polite. My Mom was watching. LOL

  • Ron Burgundy

    Wow that is a pretty ugly list. Enroth if we have to pick one.

    I think first option should be trying the trade route – maybe you can pry the 1B part of a 1A/1B tandem like they have in Anaheim, or maybe a guy like Thomas Greiss (who we should have signed as a UFA last summer for $1.5MM instead of Nilsson for $1MM…) on the Island can be got. If we’re talking to teams about D then maybe you get a goalie thrown in.

  • Great White

    Goaltending is all Hocus Pocus. It’s about finding lightning in a bottle.

    You want Brian Boucher, Jussi Markkanen, or Rob Zepp.

    When your backup goes in, no one should know what he’s going to do. Not even your own team.

  • llong33

    I’m a fan of Chad Johnson as a backup. Despite stepping up for Buffalo when Robin Lehner went down with injury (yet again) still posted pretty solid numbers on the year. Id sign him in that 1.6 mill (800k a year) 2 years max deal. Buys LB some more time in the minors, as Goalies are voodoo and take lots of time to develop.

  • Dirck Commandeur

    Personally I still have a lot of faith in Laurent Brossoit. We know he can play well, I think he just had a string of bad luck at the end of the year. In his first call up he played well, and I know he still hasn’t pulled out a win for us, but on our team that’s not an easy thing to do. More AHL time wouldn’t hurt, and if Chairelli does find another backup, I hope he only signs him for 1 year till Laurent can play consistently.

    • Powdered milk

      After his ELC is up yea, next year I don’t really see a huge problem. After last year it’s highly unlikely the oilers make the playoffs next season anyways regardless who the backup is

  • Jaxon

    Chad Johnson looks like he might be the best fit as Talbot’s backup.

    He played well in Buffalo last season (.920% over 45 games, .927% at Evens) and is a former goalie of Chiarelli’s (where he posted a .931 ES% over 27 games). He’s got decent numbers (although his time in NYI was not good) with a .917 career SV% and a career .925 ES SV% over 101 games.

    Talbot’s Last 3 Seasons as a 26 to 28 yr old: .928ESSV% on 2710 Shots in 113GP
    Johnson’s Last 3 Seasons as a 27 to 29 yr old: .923ESSV% on 2038 Shots in 91GP

    Talbot and Johnson were born 13 months apart and have played 2 full seasons together as part of the NYR’s AHL Conneticut Whalers and Talbot played 1 game as part of the NYR’s AHL Hartford Wolf Pack in 2010 after his college season ended. 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 got him for under $2M? I’d go 2 years at $2M or less per for sure and Talbot / Johnson is your goaltending tandem.

    Johnson had great stats last season as a starting goalie. Johnson had a 6 point higher save percentage in only 11 less games (45GP) than our anointed #1. They’re paying Talbot $4.16M. I even think half that, at $2.08M, for a backup that can challenge your starter and even take over in the event of an injury or talent implosion as we well know can happen (see Dubnyk, Scrivens, Fasth, Nilsson, etc) would be money well spent. So if they can get him for less I think it’s a no-brainer

    Hell, just pick him up so Calgary doesn’t get him.

  • Twitch

    He isn’t getting alot of love here but Zatkoff is one of the few goalies I have seen in person at a game on this list and his technical ability is better than he gets credit for and I think he could be very serviceable for a 2 year stint as TAL-bot’s back-up until the chants of L-B can rise again in Edmonton rafters reminiscing of 2011.

    • madjam

      You might be right , and Reimer could really push the issue for starter . 8M for two goalies is about 1-1.5 M more than most , but if we have cap space for it , do it . Can always trade one later for a possible good return on investment . In the interim Broissoit , etc . getting valuable time in AHL . Consistency with Talbot may be questionable , as it was with Dubnyk when he was here .

  • Acumen

    Johnson would be great, probably an ideal candidate, but I’ve loved Khudobin for a long time. Think he would make a perfect backup. With the Chia connection, it’s finally a realistic possibility too.

    Put me down for the Russian.

  • CMG30

    I’m much happier with the hole being in the backup position this season as opposed to the starter last year.

    My guess is that PC goes off the board once again and finds a candidate like the ‘Ders.

  • Craig1981

    Depending on price I wouldn’t be opposed to Reimer…even if it’s a short deal at 3 million. I know that is at for a backup, but short term they have the cash and a if having a good goalie gets you an extra 3-5 wins on their starts that is an easy way to gain 6-10 points in the standings.

    Lot at the top team in the NHL. Many have really good backups

  • toprightcorner

    I have liked Chad Johnson for a while, he is big and size is important today, 5″ taller than Enroth is significant these days.

    Whoever the Oilers sign, I think it needs to be a very athletic goalie. with smaller equipment coming in next year, the athletic goalies will rise to the top, especially athletic goalies with size.