Laurent Brossoit is under a lot of pressure, it seems.
The Edmonton Oilers have seen a rotating carousel of number one goaltenders over the last, oh, decade or so – and none of them have particularly worked out in the team’s favor. It seems, even, that the last few years have seen the team go through goaltenders faster than they’ve gone through head coaches.
Think about it: name an Oilers goalie from the last five years who didn’t lose his starting gig to someone else at some point during the year to just try and salvage the team.
That’s behind us, though.
We aren’t here to talk about the ghosts of Oilers goalies past.
We’re here to talk about Laurent Brossoit.
Like I said, though, the kid’s under a lot of pressure. Cam Talbot is the team’s current Best Case ScenarioTM, but a growing number of voices seem to be ready for Brossoit to take over as a starter – if not now, then soon.
Even those who aren’t ready to see him as a starter, though, seem worried. The team inked Jonas Gustavsson (a move I’ve… discussed) as a free agent to back up Talbot instead of letting Brossoit serve as a backup; does that mean that the former Calgary Flames prospect is yet another goaltending bust?
On the one hand…
There are certain red flags that the Oilers need to be cognizant of when it comes to Brossoit, yes. I’m under no delusions that he’s so NHL-ready that he won’t have a learning curve when he hits the NHL.
After all, we saw that last year; he did as well as any player could in his first two games behind the Edmonton defense, then the wheels kind of fell off and he struggled in some of his other limited appearances.
It’s hard to really gauge how a player will perform based on that small of a sample size, but being realistic, we have to assume that Brossoit runs the risk of suffering from the kinds of sustainability issues behind the Oilers that we saw last year.
They were a bottom five team, but his poor games suggest could very well be a career backup. I’m willing to accept that as a more than reasonable expectation at this point.
On the other hand, though…
That doesn’t make him a bust.
It’s hard to temper expectations with goaltenders and not only operate in extremes. It’s hard not to look at goaltenders as Carey Price or Bust, hard not to evaluate them as guys who can carry the team 72 games a season or Completely Worthless And Trash.
Most goaltenders, actually, are going to fall right in the middle at their peak – which should come in the next handful of years for Brossoit. It’s entirely likely that we won’t truly know what he is for another season, and when we do, we’ll realize that he’s a 1A/B tandem or a backup. That’s what most goaltenders are, after all: that doesn’t make him a bust.
So where does that leave us?
Personally, I like Brossoit. I think he’s got a good, confident game (or at least, as confident as it can be behind the Oilers). His depth isn’t any kind of big concern, he doesn’t allow an obnoxious number of rebounds, and he’s got a solid tracking game.
My biggest questions still come with his endurance – he can sometimes taper off in efficiency over a tough stretch – and I worry that he’s play better when given somewhere between 20-40 games a season, rather than 50-70. That doesn’t mean I dislike his game, it just means I don’t think he’s a true starter.
(I could also be totally wrong, but he’s 23. By this point in his career, he – barring a major change in the goaltending coaching he’s receiving – is showing the bulk of his potential right now.)
Why would he still be in the AHL next year, then, if he doesn’t necessarily need more development?
Simple – playing time. The Oilers probably hope that this year will be an improvement defensively for the NHL club, but there’s no guarantee. Based on that, it would be far more detrimental to his potential future as a sustainable NHLer for him to play 15 games in Edmonton behind a disaster of a blue line.
He can always move up to the NHL level during the year if it helps the team and they seem ready for him.