It isn’t debatable that Cam Talbot has had an excellent
season. Edmonton’s starting goaltender leads the league with 43 appearances,
two more than the next-busiest goalie, and has a very solid 0.919 save
More debatable is whether he should be playing so much, and
what would happen to the Oilers if he got hurt. In this week’s edition of What
Would You Do Wednesday, we ask whether Edmonton should look into getting a more
experienced backup to lighten Talbot’s load.
The team’s current No. 2 is Laurent Brossoit. Brossoit has
spent the last two years playing extremely well in the AHL, but struggled when
given a shot at major-league minutes in 2015-16. This year, he’s been less
impressive in the minors, but handled his only NHL appearance well, making 38
saves on 41 shots in a win over Calgary.
Brossoit needs to clear waivers next season, so there isn’t
really a development angle to this. He needs to make the jump soon. We just don’t
know for sure whether or not he can, and there’s risk involved in finding out.
There are other options.
One imagines that the New York Islanders would love to move
Jaroslav Halak. The long-time NHL starter was waived and shipped to the minors
at the start of the month, the loser of a three-way battle for minutes to
Thomas Greiss and the cheaper, younger Jean-Francois Berube. He has another
year after this one at a $4.5 million
That’s a lot of money to take on, which is why Halak cleared
waivers despite what was effectively 20-medicore games following a long and
decent career. Any deal for him would involve figuring out money—perhaps sending
some back (Benoit Pouliot, Mark Fayne, maybe Matt Hendricks) or getting the
Isles to retain salary. But Halak would give Edmonton a veteran fallback option
both this year and next.
Also expensive, but in the final year
of his deal, is Ondrej Pavelec. The Winnipeg Jets banished him to the AHL
at the start of the season, but with both of their major-league options
struggling turned to him last week. He’s now 2-2-0 with a 0.897 save percentage
on the season.
Unlike Halak, Pavelec has an unimpressive track record. He’s
spent the last seven years as either a starter or 1B goaltender, and in five of
those seasons has come in with a save percentage of 0.906 or lower.
Reto Berra is another popular goaltending candidate. A
pending free agent with a modest cap
hit, there are no financial concerns with regard to his deal. He provided
quality minutes as a designated No. 2 for Colorado in each of the last two
seasons. This year, he’s been a strong starting option for the AHL’s
Springfield Falcons. With Roberto Luongo and James Reimer ahead of him, Florida
can afford to make a trade.
Those three players are the most obvious candidates for a
trade, but they aren’t the only ones, and the list is only going to get longer
as teams fall out of playoff contention.
How interested should the Oilers be? Does Brossoit deserve
more time, or should Edmonton bring in a veteran immediately, one whom Todd McLellan
can have confidence in and will play regularly?