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Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: Looking for help between the pipes

Goaltending has been an issue for the Oilers this season. I mean, many things have been an issue for the Oilers this season, but with Cam Talbot on the injured reserve for the new few weeks, goaltending has jumped to the forefront among Edmonton’s problems.

Laurent Brossoit and AHL call-up Nick Ellis are currently manning the net for the Oilers, which isn’t exactly ideal when the team has to jump over almost all of the Western Conference to get into a playoff spot. That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. How would you address the Oilers’ goaltending situation?

Stick with Brossoit and Ellis

The first option, really, is just to wait it out. Talbot isn’t supposed to be out for very long. When he placed on the injured reserve on Nov. 30, it was said he would only miss a week, but that’s now been stretched to two weeks. Still, it apparently isn’t a serious injury, meaning Talbot should be back before Christmas at the latest, barring a setback.

Brossoit has played in eight games this season and he’s started five. In those games he owns a pretty ugly .872 save percentage. That’s significantly worse than the .928 save percentage he put up in eight games last season after the Oilers parted ways with Jonas Gustavsson. That showing was good enough to earn him the team’s backup role in 2017-18.

Nick Ellis was inked to a two-year entry-level deal back in 2016 after a very good season for Providence College in the NCAA. In his first professional season with the Bakersfield Condors, Ellis posted a respectable .918 save percentage, and this season he’s been just as solid, owning a .914 save percentage through 11 games.

Neither have NHL pedigree, but both Brossoit and Ellis have been solid at the AHL level. Is that enough to give the two of them the reigns until Talbot is back?

LOOK FOR HELP

Oct 17, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goalie Laurent Brossoit (1) during the second period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Based on the hole the Oilers have dug for themselves early on, there isn’t much time to sit around and see if Brossoit or Ellis are good enough to fill Talbot’s spot.

Ellis is a complete enigma, we really have no idea what to expect. Brossoit has played in two games since Talbot went on the injured reserve, and while he showed flashes of excellence, he didn’t put together 60 minutes of strong play. Against the Leafs, he allowed a couple soft goals off the hop then battled the rest of the way, and against the Flames, he had a great first two periods, but almost threw the game away in the third.

According to Frank Seravalli, Peter Chiarelli is actively trying to find another goalie to remedy the situation.

The Oilers’ season could swirl down the drain with two more weeks of shoddy goaltending. Brossoit, 24, has allowed five or more goals in three of his last five starts and has an .872 save percentage this season.

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is working the phones to acquire a stopgap in Talbot’s absence, hastened by Brossoit’s shaky outing on Saturday night as Edmonton nearly blew a 6-1 lead in the Battle of Alberta. Talbot is expected to be out until at least Dec. 14, according to coach Todd McLellan.

There are a handful of teams out there with more experienced NHL backup options who fit the bill as rentals…

  • Michael Neuvirth in Philadelphia has .912 career save percentage in 236 NHL games (though he is injured).
  • Chad Johnson in Buffalo has a .913 career save percentage in 148 NHL games.
  • Michael Hutchinson, currently playing with Winnipeg’s AHL team, has a career .910 save percentage in 99 NHL games.

Seravalli also cites a few other options…

  • Petr Mrazek in Detroit. He has a .912 save percentage in 153 career NHL games. At one time, he appeared to be the goalie of the future in Detroit, but he’s struggled the past two seasons. He’s an RFA at the end of the year.
  • Calvin Pickard with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. Pickard had a decent run with Colorado and owns a .914 save percentage in 86 NHL games. He was claimed by Vegas in the expansion draft then dealt to Toronto after clearing waivers. He has a .933 save percentage with the Marlies.
  • Garrett Sparks with the Toronto Marlies. Sparks has been a very good goalie at the AHL level but was mediocre in his 17-game showing on an awful Leafs team back in 2016. This season, he has a .944 save percentage in 14 AHL games.

What say you, Nation? Do we trust the young duo of Nick Ellis and Laurent Brossoit to get the job done while Cam Talbot is on the injured reserve? Or do the Oilers need to find another goalie on the trade market? Also looking beyond Talbot’s injury, do the Oilers need a better backup so they don’t have to ride their starter into the ground? 


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  • Kaplan

    If there’s a better goalie than LB available, then grab him, as LB hasn’t shone. I grant that he hasn’t had the opportunity to really find his legs, but given our position in the standings and Talbot on the IR, this isn’t the time for LB to learn on the job. Get a capable backup in there now, and maybe pencil in Nick Ellis as our backup in the future (I think his AHL numbers have been superior to LBs anyway).

    • Gordie Wayne

      agree with you… but as for a better goalie than LB being available…there was, as the article states, Calvin Pickard was there for free a few weeks ago on waivers. A team should always be looking to upgrade at every position, and he is clearly a better option than all of the goalies behind Talbot. I’m sure we could have even worked out a trade with Vegas so that we would have stayed at the same number of contracts. Starting to question the GM…

  • Consultant

    Coaches see goalies during practice so I trust their decision to try LB again. Obviously a lot rides on his performance tonight. I don’t think he is the answer long term but you never know with goalies.
    Rather than make a trade I would like to see Ellis get a game. His numbers are as good as any mentioned above, plus he had a strong pre-season. He is young and already in the system, give him a shot this weekend on one of our back-to-backs.

  • TruthHurts98

    It appears to me this franchise might be willing to go for yet another lottery draft pick. PC has refused to address the backup goalie situation with a true backup since he’s arrived. After tonight the schedule gets really tough and with any kind of breakdown or soft goals going in the next few games after Philly I can’t see the Oilers winning much. Unless they find some magical offense and figure out how to rectify the awful PP and PK.

  • Kevbot

    I’d be interested in Pickard. His numbers last year aren’t very impressive but he was thrown into a starters role for a whole season because Varlomov was hurt. The Avs were also one of the worst teams in NHL history last year, due in large part to atrocious defense. His numbers in previous seasons look good (small sample size).
    Another option which wasn’t mentioned, who I would assume could be had for cheap is Linus Ullmark. Has more experience than Brossiot or Ellis, wouldn’t cost much to acquire either. Not much of a risk on Ullmark

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    It depends what the asking price is for a half-decent backup, but I would wait and ses how Broissoit performs against Philly tonight before pulling the trigger. They definitely need help keeping the puck out of the net, that’s for sure.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    This isn’t the year we win the cup. No point in trading assets for a goalie on a wasted year. Just run Brossoit and Ellis to give them experience. Brossoit needs it because hes only played 22 Games in his NHL career.

  • Shredder

    I’ve always thought Mrazek was pretty good. If we get him for cheap, awesome. Otherwise, let’s ride it out and see how LB can handle this. We don’t know unless we give him a chance.

  • Big Jacks Meat

    Granted the season is no longer young , you don’t toss it because you did nothing. You need to get a proven back up , not at a great cost but still. Other teams know the OIL need a back up so of course will be asking for damn near Mcdavid for a shooter tutor. But you owe it to the team and Talbot ! to keep them in the hunt. I still have faith in this group and LB for that matter , but the time is here and now LB. Do it brother.

  • percy

    Leave LB in.The last few games they have been winning games by scoring goals, not depending on the goalie to bail their sorry buts out. LB might be a good thing in the long run. About time they they got their fingers out of their b_ _ tts and start competing .

  • Spydyr

    I have been saying for three years bring in a goalie to push Talbot. Not inexperienced kids or journeyman. At this point the Oilers are getting dangerously close to their fifty man cap. Looks like it will have to be a trade to bring in help. If after tonight the issue of weak goaltending still exists. The GM should pull the trigger on a deal.

  • Rusty

    Johnson has shown he can go hot for a short stretch. but i dont know what his contract situation is like. I think he would be an upgrade in goal over LB. Im not totally convinced we should be throwing Ellis in there quite yet. I would like to see him get a start or relief effort before talbot is back and he goes back to bakersfield but i think his place is in the minors dominating and building confidence. The truth is i have no effing idea. Goalies are an enigma to me. if the coach and GM thing LB needs another chance and are confident he will bounce back who the hell am i to question it.

  • CMG30

    LB needs playing time to improve and I think he will be a decent NHL goalie someday. The trouble is that the Oil are not in a position to be his training wheels at the moment. The fate of the season hinges on the next few games and certainly if Talbot is injured again later in the season. If PC can bring in an solid option for backup he should do it. Send LB down for more seasoning.

  • Total Points

    Everybody except Chai knew the Oiler goalie situation was not good. They needed a NHL backup goalie in-case Talbot doesn’t play well or gets injured. Both of these things happened

    I thought when Chai came on board he would assemble a NHL team, but I guess he has not.

    At this stage a trade will not improve the goal-tending situation. Not much available. Needed to do that last summer

  • Svart kaffe

    Not Mrazek. He’s like having Dominik Hasek and Jonas Gustavsson in the same person and you never know which one is going to show up. He could be a #1 for some team in the future though, but he’s unpredictable to say the least.

    I am intrigued by all the other options though but am less familiar with their styles.

    It would be wise to look to the long term. Someone talented enough to take over the reins when Talbot’s contract is up.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Hey, we have recently seen “Cinderella Stories” in net before…
    Tim Thomas in Boston & Murray in Pitts,… this may be LB’s time…?
    He was chosen by an NHL team to be a sole back-up…
    We have to believe that someone knows more than us…?

  • Kevwan

    This goalie situation is just typical of why it’s so frustrating being an Oilers fan.

    If the team management had so much confidence in Brossoit’s ability they should have given him more than 3 starts in the first 25 games. This despite Cam Talbot having the second worst numbers of any #1 goalie in the league. Now despite LB’s poor play they still won’t give Ellis a chance.

    I don’t get it. What’s wrong with rewarding good play with more playing time and vice versa?

  • Jaxon

    Ride it out, unless they find someone better via waivers (ex. Pickard was earlier). Don’t trade away players, prospects or picks for a short-term fix. The Oilers are not making the playoffs anyway. Why waste assets? They were already 3rd worst in the league before they lost Larsson and Talbot, two of their most valuable players. and while Sekera is getting closer he’s still not back for a while. They’re 6 points back of SJS for the last wildcard spot and SJS have a game in hand, so it could be 8 pts back once that evens out. So not only do they have to gain 6 points on SJS over 55 games, they have to also outpace ALL 5 other teams that are playing better than them this season including Chicago. If just one of those teams plays better than them they don’t make it. sorry to be a downer, but it’s over. Time to sell off some assets while you can get a bit more future players for them (Maroon, Letestu, Cammalleri, Auvitu, and err, ummm Fayne?).