It’s time for the Oilers to play Laurent Brossoit

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Once the Edmonton Oilers get out of their current five-day
break, they’re going to need a backup goaltender, which means that it’s time
for the club to put some faith in long-time prospect Laurent Brossoit. As much as there’s risk in trusting a rookie, Brossoit is as likely to get the job done as almost any of the trade candidates the Oilers could pick up.  

The Schedule

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February isn’t too crazy for the Oilers, what with this
five-day break and a two day break between home games against Chicago on
Saturday and Arizona on Tuesday. Nevertheless, the back half of the month is
packed, with eight games in its final 14 days and six of those on the road.

There’s a lull at the start of March as Edmonton plays just
a pair of games in the first nine days of the month, but from March 10 through
the end of the year things will be difficult. In the final 31 days of the
season, the Oilers will play 16 games and a pair of back-to-backs.

The point in all of this is that it’s probably a bad idea to
play Cam Talbot for all of those games, particularly if the club expects him to
be rested when the first round of the playoffs starts. Not only might his
performance suffer, but the risk of injury increases. This is particularly true
given the amount of travel that comes with playing in the West.

Brossoit vs. the Alternatives

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Goalie aging curves are still a matter of debate, but the
evidence that I’ve seen (this,
this
and this
are all good pieces; I also recommend Colby
Cosh
on this subject) suggests that we’re justified in treating them like
prospects at other positions but with a greater uncertainty factor. In other
words, it seems likely that they peak around age 25, though one must allow for
surprises.

Laurent Brossoit turns 24 next month. He’s past the age
where we can expect big leaps forward in ability, and if he can’t make the jump
now it’s possible that he never will. There’s some good evidence that he can.

First, Brossoit has posted decent numbers at every level. He
was a quality starter in the WHL, then in the ECHL, and finally in the AHL. He entered
this season with two quality years under his belt (0.918 and 0.920 save
percentages, respectively), and while his numbers are down a little over 20-odd
games this year that sort of thing happens sometimes.

Those AHL numbers don’t look too bad when compared to some
commonly cited alternatives. Reto Berra has a 0.913 save percentage in
Springfield this year; Ondrej Pavelec managed a 0.917 with Manitoba. Neither
player has particularly outperformed Brossoit this season at the same level.

Brossoit has NHL size (6’3”, 200 pounds), a resume at other
levels which suggests he’s ready to take the jump, and played well in his only
major-league start this season. He’s also on a dirt-cheap contract for this
year and next and doesn’t cost any assets to acquire.

It’s going to be hard to find a goalie who fits what should
be Edmonton’s two essential criteria for making a trade: a) plainly better than
Brossoit and b) cheap.

Most of the commonly cited goalie options are players the
Oilers shouldn’t even bother looking at. Pavelec is a great example of this kind
of player. He’s been a bad starter for years and his numbers
this season are nothing special in the AHL and downright lousy in the NHL. He’s
far more famous than Brossoit, but the evidence doesn’t suggest we should
believe he’s any better than Brossoit is today.

A lot of the potentially available goalies fall into the
same category. Keith Kinkaid and Anders Nilsson are having great seasons, but
have mediocre career numbers and were basically replacement-level a year ago.
Berra has been nothing special this season.

At the other end of the spectrum are potential starters, any
of which would be overkill with Talbot in the No. 1 spot. There’s no sense
paying a premium to bring in a challenger with him playing so well.

It isn’t easy to find a legitimate upgrade on Brossoit who
is also cheap. Looking around the league, the one I see is Jaroslav Halak, who
is a long-time starter and a quality goalie. He might be cheap because of his
contract, but the Islanders would need to take money back the other way (Mark
Fayne would be an obvious fit) and if they were to do that one would imagine
the cost of acquisition spiking.

If Edmonton can find a bargain backup goalie that is clearly
better than Brossoit, there’s no harm in going for it, but that’s going to be hard to do. If, as seems likely, the Oilers can’t acquire a legitimate upgrade they may as well just play the guy they already have. 

RECENT POSTS

  • Natejax97

    Ya…they need to get him some starts to see what we got before March 1st.

    Heading into next year, I think he is the bonafied guy, as long as he continues to show well.

    Ellis looking strong too…it really couldn’t be that we developed goaltending depth as well…could it? COULD IT???!!

  • Big Jacks Meat

    Talbot is better the more he plays. FACT.
    L.B. can squeeze a few games in but do not jeopardize the chance at a divisional title or wildcard at the least. 5-6 games for L.B. Tops
    or go find a proven back up.

    This club has already passed on a few backups the were placed on waivers and we all know who they are. Talbot every 5 of 6.

    • Keepyourstickontheice

      Goalies who play a lot during the regular season find the playoffs tiring. FACT.

      You have to balance his desire to play with the need for him to play well into the spring summer.

      I’d rather the oilers drop to a wild card spot but get Talbot ready to go to war than the Oilers winning the pacific and getting slapped around in the first round.

      Also, LB can play as well, its not like we’d be putting an oilers jersey on a shooter tutor.

  • BobbyCanuck

    Right now we are 8pts up on LA, whom have 2 games in hand

    That means we can lose 2 games before being in a scrap for a play-off spot.

    If we are going to give him a shot, do it now

    • Edmonton’s currently fifth in the West by points percentage, and are on pace for 98 points total.

      They need to be passed by four of the following teams to miss the playoffs:

      • 6. NSH: on pace for 91 points
      • 7. LAK: on pace for 90 points
      • 8. STL: on pace for 88 points
      • 9. CGY: on pace for 85 points
      • 10. VAN: on pace for 82 points

      The Oilers are in really good shape right now. Even a lousy 10-13-4 finish (winning just 37% of their remaining games) will give them 90 points, which should be enough for a playoff spot.

      The standings look close, but for VAN to hit that same 90-point mark would require an 18-10-2 run, which given that they only have 23 wins all year would be quite an accomplishment. Even the Flames would have to go 15-9-3 to get there.

      • Xtnct

        Honest question @Jonathon Willis; if LAK, Calgary and Nashville pass the Oilers wouldn’t we miss the playoffs? I don’t understand why 4 of those teams would need to pass them?

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Might the Oilers be using LB judiciously to disway Vegas from taking him in June?

    In all honesty I still don’t think they pick up a maybe backup who is ineligible for waivers. They probably take the two best goalies and then the best fit for the AHL.

  • OriginalPouzar

    As much as I would like to have a more experienced and tested back-up, I have not been on board with acquiring a back-up tender as a huge need at this point.

    Any of the options, whether it be via waiver wire or a trade that doesn’t have a huge acquisition costs, won’t be significantly better than our current option.

    At the end of the day, if Talbot goes down, we are essentially screwed even if we did acquire a more seasoned back-up tender – there aren’t any realistic options that could back-stop this team to a playoff round victory (a guy like Halak, with his large cap hit next season, is not a realistic option).

    We are at 48 contracts and I’d rather not add another one for a small upgrade in back-up goalie which could limit our ability to improve in other areas at or prior to the deadline.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Yes, Brossoit needs to play a little bit more in the last few months of the season, however, unless Talbot actually shows sign of fatigue leading to reduced performance, I would still give him the vast bulk of the games.

    The injury risk is higher, yes, however, he is an elite conditioned athlete in his prime who seemingly plays better with more work. Many goalies in the 80s and 90s, who were likely unconditioned, were able to play 70 plus games.

    There has been no actual evidence that he needs more rest, just a prediction that he will falter.

    • Keepyourstickontheice

      That’s fair, and no one is saying Talbot shouldn’t still be playing lots, but he could play say 2/3 of games, get nights off in back to back situations. Way more reasonable than to expect him to play the 89% of starts he’s currently getting.

  • Total Points

    At this time LB is not an NHL goalie. He needs more time to sharpen his skills in the AHL.

    No AHL players on the Oilers especially now that they have a chance to make playoffs please.

    Lets get real here and do things properly.

    Oilers management should know if LB is ready.

    That would be like sitting out Mcdavid to see if Kahari can handle the first line.

  • toprightcorner

    IT’S TIME FOR THE OILERS TO SEND LAURENT BROSSOIT BACK TO THE AHL

    That is what the title should be. With only 27 games left and with the playoffs and potential home ice advantage, a back up will not play any more than 4 games this season. Give LB more starts, fight for a playoff spot and continue to develop. Out of those 4 games, The Oilers would be fine with a 1-2-1 record. Berra or similar can get you that while sitting on but and practicing hard.

    This will not give LB an experience advantage, if anything, he plays lights out with a .935 SV% and Vegas thinks “hmmmmm, there is a cheap young backup that could grow to become our starter in a couple years, I would rather draft him than take on Pouliots contract”

    LB needs to play 15-20 more games this season, not 4.

  • Spydyr

    At this point in the season I’m all for Brossoit being the backup.As long as he earns it. So that means giving him a few starts before the end of the month. If he falters pick up a goalie at the deadline.

  • I am Batman

    Play him on a tight leash. Wins against Arizona, he gets another start vs an “easy” team, he loses, he is out; we mortgage the house for Halak.

    It’s not a guarantee that we make the playoffs next year (things move fast and furious), we might as well go big this year and try to win a cup

  • Captain McTowel

    “but the Islanders would need to take money back the other way (Mark Fayne would be an obvious fit)”

    We can’t trade Mark Fayne for expansion draft exposure rule reasons. If we trade Fayne, then we HAVE to expose one of either Klefbom, Larsson or Davidson…

    I’m not surprised Fayne is not being recalled. We need to keep him in the organization until at least June 20th.

  • That's My Point

    Martin Brodeur played 70 games or more for 10 straight years.

    I think Talbot can play over 70 games.

    What else does he do except play hockey, eat, sleep and travel?

    And Cam gets paid $4,150,000.00.

    I think only rest him only on back to back games if he needs rest otherwise play him until late June.

  • Pouzar99

    Right now the object is to win as many games as possible and finish as high up in the standings as we can. That means starting Brossiot 2 possibly 3 times in the remaining games, including Game 82, unless there is a lot at stake that night, which is possible but unlikely.
    We are in a playoff race not running out the clock like usual, so this is no time to be testing Brossoit any more than is necessary to keep Talbot fresh enough. Start Brossoit on the road against Florida and Colorado and hopefully in the last game. Then next year we have to make sure we have a backup we believe in who can play, say, 20 games.