Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Laurent Brossoit situation doesn’t address the real problems in Edmonton

On December 14th, Laurent Brossoit allowed four goals on 23 shots against the Nashville Predators.

It wasn’t his worst performance of the year, by far. He’d kicked off the season with a perfect 19-save shutout in relief on October 7th but followed that up with a pair of games posting sub-.800 save percentages; by even the most lax standards, those were reasonably unacceptable.

After that final loss, he didn’t sniff NHL action again before getting waived on January 6th, heading back down to the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors in a year that he had been expected to take a huge step forward.

For the Oilers, it’s a huge disappointment.

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Brossoit was expected to be the team’s next big thing. He’d shouldered tough loads in the AHL with a weak prospect pool, and handled some miserable outings at the NHL level during his brief call-ups over the years.

The Oilers clearly reached a point where they were unhappy enough with him, though, that they were willing to expose him to waivers to send him down.

He’s now been replaced with Al Montoya in the NHL, which is a lateral move at best. It’s a move that sends a message, though, that perhaps even an aging career backup coming off of a concussion is preferable at this point to what Brossoit had been offering.

In a way, it’s as much his fault as it is anyone’s when they underperform in a job. He was given the green light to showcase what he could do with more consistent starts during Talbot’s injury but allowed some miserable goals during that stretch to lose the confidence of a lot of fans and personnel alike.

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On the other hand, though, he never seemed to quite get a fair shake – and for Edmonton, that’s becoming eerily familiar in net.

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Feb 21, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers goalie Laurent Brossoit (1) makes a save against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Laurent Brossoit has not been good this year.

Let me start with that because it’s certainly important. Large or small sample size, a .886 save percentage in all situations is not good. It’s the kind of save percentage that implies that a team wins in spite of you, rather than because of you.

When broken down, though, it’s important to also concede: Laurent Brossoit has not been good, but he really hasn’t been as bad as his overall numbers, either.

The two sub-.800 appearances at the opening of the season are absolutely killing his save percentage, pulling it down by a full 1.2 percent. Right now, he sits on a .886 in all situations; if you remove those two games, he jumps to a .898, nearly breaking the .900 mark.

That’s because he’s had a few somewhat bad games since then (statistically; we all know that Battle of Alberta game was a horror sideshow), but has had a few quite good ones, as well.

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On 10 recorded starts, Brossoit has two Really Bad Starts, which is a miserable percentage. Five of his other starts, though, are considered Quality Starts, putting him at a nearly league-average 50% quality start percentage.

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His bad games are pretty darn bad, but he performs to help his team win about as often as any other league-average backup – yet with five very winnable games, he only has three wins. And with just two games that he, by all intents and purposes, lost for the team, he has seven losses in regulation overall.

That’s as much the team as it is him; he’s not pulling them up, but he really isn’t actively dragging them down to their current record, either.

As a matter of fact, his last four games prior to that Nashville one had been exactly what the team was hoping for; he had a .906 or better in every one of them, allowing three goals on 32 shots in the first and even putting up a .957 save percentage in a loss to Toronto on December 10th. In that game, he only allowed one goal, and the team lost anyway – that’s not him.

The numbers don’t exactly favor either Montoya or Talbot, either.

In all fairness, Talbot has been handling a much more gruelling workload, but he’s been far from the saviour of the team. His own quality start percentage is a miserable .394 through 33 starts, meaning he’s giving the team a 77 percent or better chance to win just under 40 percent of the time.

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For perspective, league average is 53 percent. Brossoit, albeit with a much smaller sample size, hits the quality start threshold (either a .917 save percentage overall or a .887 in games with two or fewer goals allowed) 50 percent of the time.

That’s not necessarily an indictment of Talbot. He’s been given an obscene amount of work over the last two years, and an injury already this year isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for that kind of workload. It’s more likely that he was carrying the team through unreasonable expectations last year than it is that he’s been failing in favorable circumstances this year.

But Montoya, put in a similar situation in Montreal (where shots flow freely towards the net and offensive depth is concerning), hasn’t exactly given any indication that he’ll be a significant improvement on Brossoit.

In his first game for Edmonton, the newly-acquired backup did all he could to stop the bleeding. He posted a .929 save percentage with one goal allowed on 14 shots in relief, giving Edmonton every opportunity to try and salvage their game on January 6th.

But prior to arriving with the Oilers, he had been far from a sure thing. His .863 save percentage through four games and three starts was worse than Brossoit’s same four-game, three-start opening to the season (which clocked in at a .881). He has one Really Bad Start on three games and no quality starts so far.

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

Perhaps, at this point, the team considers this an exercise in salvation.

Montoya, at almost 33, is not a rising prospect. He may get a Peter Budaj renaissance year with the right coaching, but it’s not terribly likely. He’s had a solid NHL run over the last decade, but he’s not exactly vying for any multi-year deals after this.

Brossoit, on the other hand, showed through his stretch ahead of his demotion that he’s still got room to improve, and he’s young enough that Edmonton doesn’t have to give up yet.

Giving him time in Bakersfield, where the AHL club is last in a comically-tight (and comically-good) Pacific Division, gives him both regular starts again and the chance to build up his confidence away from what’s happening at Rogers Place. They can then always try again next year.

The fact that we’re back here again, though, is a harsh condemnation of the way things are still going for the Oilers.

Devan Dubnyk was the team’s last goaltender to try hard, love the game, and absolutely tank in the Oilers system before thriving elsewhere. He received some reparative coaching in Arizona, then reunited with his old coach from Edmonton in Minnesota to revitalize his career completely.

Ben Scrivens certainly didn’t get much of a shot, either. After solid numbers in Toronto and LA, he came to Edmonton and immediately took a giant step backwards. Now, he’s wrapping up his second season in the KHL, where his numbers have been consistent and nearly flawless.

Talbot certainly isn’t a shining example that things have changed, either. While Brossoit is the one getting the brunt of the ire, Talbot’s numbers (a .902 save percentage in all situations) this year have fallen a few miles short of acceptable, and he also has a history of better performances elsewhere.

It’s probably a good thing, considering this, to give Brossoit a breather in the AHL. If you can’t give a player the chance to get his mojo back with another team, the minors are a solid option.

But that’s just a temporary fix if the Oilers themselves don’t see the changes they need before he returns. Otherwise, it’s all just going to be a harsh cycle of hitting the NHL and bouncing back until he either hangs them up or heads elsewhere – and there’s little indication that someone else is going to be able to come in and break that mold without the tangible changes in front of them on the ice.

It’s good to see Brossoit get the time in the minors, but that doesn’t fix the problem.

  • TKB2677

    LB didn’t get a fair shake? I wonder if the author is related to LB to say that.
    If you are a team with a legit NHL starter who you think is a good one, realistically how many games is your back up going to get. 15-20 tops. Brossoit got into 13 games this year and his numbers are 3-7 with a 3.22 GA and a .886 save percentage. It doesn’t matter if he had a few good games, those aren’t NHL numbers. He’s going to have to have a hell of a lot of really good games just to get that save percentage above .900. If you want to go further, in 27 career NHL games, he’s 7-13 with a 2.96 GA and a .899 save percentage. Again, not NHL numbers. IN addition, he is going to be 25 in March and he hasn’t established himself as a NHLer yet.

    • MrBung

      Agreed. This was LB’s chance to prove himself with the Oilers. When backups get this kind of opportunity, they need to grab it. Otherwise, they have to wait for another team to risk it on them … or much more likely end up in the minors or Europe as the next crop of goalies come along.

  • Hemmercules

    The NHL team and the Farm are bottom of their divisions. Im having hard time trying to understand Chia’s direction for the organization. All we can do is pray to the hockey gods that this season was a one-off and they will be back to compete next year.

    Im assuming the plan with Montoya was to let LB play more in the minors? and Montoya will get about a third of the remaining games with Oilers?

    • LAKID

      Well if the plan was to get LB more time in the minors why the He77 didn’t Chia wait to claim Montoya on waivers it had to happen. No instead he through away a 5th and quite possibly a 4th round pick, bad GM bad.

      • MessyEH!

        I thought this aswell. Someone eould be coming up soon Montreal was likely set to waive him and called everyone to to see who would bite. We are lucky Chia Pete didn’t offer Nuge.

        • LAKID

          Chia probably did but Bergevin covets Drai. and I would think Molson will not let Bergevin make trades without approval now and Weber is injured so Chia can’t have him yet lol. These are the two most likely GM’s to be fired before the end of the season.

      • corky

        The bigger question is why didnt Chia obtain a legit backup in the summer to challenge Talbot and others? Why wait until halfway through the season. Too reactive, not enough proactive.

    • The plus side is that, while Bakersfield is at the bottom of the AHL Pacific, that particular division as a whole is pretty tight. Would only take a few games for the pecking order there to completely upend, so they’re still decidedly in a position to contend for the playoffs there. Hopefully, that will help him out a bit with confidence, et al.

        • Eh, I’m sure he can easily contend for starts with Pasquale. He’s had injury issues in the past and he’s been bounced around a bit at this point; while the Oilers would love a good redemption story, I think they’ll give starts to the guy they’ve already invested in.

          But this is the Oilers so I’m always prepared to be very very wrong.

    • MrBung

      This is not the one-off season. Last season was the one-off season. Looking over the last 5-10 seasons, the previous season is obviously the outlier. This team has not regressed a bit, but a lot. The deficiences to correct are too many to count and the options available to our incompetent management are slim. They have spent a bunch and made more bad moves than good ones. Chia will be gone mid next season as we see a rerun of this season.

    • Garett14

      I would be fine with the AHL team struggling if it was full of good forward prospects. Aside from a few D prospects, the AHL team is full of no chance at the NHL type players. That is very concerning.

    • Spaceman Spiff

      I’m not sure I’m understanding the context of your metaphor(s). How is Chiarelli an “elephant in the room” with regards to sending a goalie back to down the minors who clearly demonstrated he wasn’t ready for prime-time? Can you please clarify?

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Nope, sorry. LB’s gotten plenty of fair shake. Not quite as much as, say, Anton Lander did, but almost the equivalent for a goaltending prospect who’s has as much AHL time as he has.

    Last month was his chance to seize-the-day and it seized him. Hell, after that Calgary game when the Oilers almost below a five- or six-goal lead, LB himself admitted that he’d allowed his concentration to wane.

    Again … because this team’s record has us in full-on fever-swamp mode, our temptation is to assume the Oilers have somehow screwed up LB, but that’s simply not the case. He had his chance and he didn’t play well. Hey, that happens. The good news for him is he’ll likely have another shot if he plays well and works hard in the Bake the rest of the year. Montoya’s acquisition basically provides cover for that.

    If LB comes to camp a changed goalie and plays better early-on, great. If not, he’s out. That’s the cold, hard reality of the job. I think the Oilers have actually handled this well.

  • T Ambrosini

    I had hopes for this kid to show well and push for fulltime NHL employment. Though his total number of NHL games played is modest, I think we have seen LB’s top end. Good but not good enough. Unless he strings together many outstanding starts in Bako, I think the writing will be on the wall for him.

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    The whole “We lost because of goaltending” thing is played out, you could have Brodeur and Roy in their heyday and this team is not winning because the Defense gives up grade A chances, we constantly get trapped in our end and turn the puck over, our PK sucks, PP is stagnant, and we have guys underperforming at a great level outside of #97, the back up goalie position is far from the real problem in Edmonton…..Ha!

  • Theoboxer

    Is this really a result of LB’s poor play or the poor play of the team in front of him. Goalies tend to have confident issues when the team in front is losing and rather than laying the blame on LB for the loss maybe it is better that he go to the AHL where he has a better chance of winning. Or at least a chance to play. Behind Talbot, LB is not gonna get in many games in and barring a miracle many wins to bolster his confidence. Picking up Montoya for next to nothing is not a bad move as they can easily walk away from him in the off season.
    The Oilers have made some pretty bad moves in the past…. but sheltering a goalie by setting him up for the best opportunity to win is not a bad move.

    • camdog

      Go back and watch the Calgary game where Edmonton was up by 4 or 5 and he let at least 2 goals in from the boards. The team no confidence in him, not the reversal.

  • camdog

    I always liked Devan Dubnyk, even when I was quite possibly the only one on this site saying he would find his way after he left Edmonton. I’ve never felt that way about Brossoit. I think he might still get some action as a back up but I don’t consider him a prospect that will develop into a starter.

  • CMG30

    It was said time and time again, last season’s sucesses were built off outstanding goaltending. GM Pete obviously failed to understand this when over the summer he downgraded the team then hoarded cap space instead of trying to upgrade basically all positions. Now we’re getting average (below average?) goaltending and he’s caught with his pants down.

    Pete wasted the final year of mcdavids elc and a summer in a (rare) position of strength because he cannot understand where the teams sucess came from. He needs to be fired asap so that the next guy has time to prep for next summer.

  • Rusty

    Lb didnt get a fair shot?!? CMON!! he was given the net for 2.5 weeks while talbot was injured and could only put 2 decent games together, and he still let in suspect goals those games. He pooped the bed, it happens. Move on.

  • Mahaloeh

    Dubnyk was rejuvenated when a veteran defence was placed in front of him! He never had that through the rebuild in Edmonton & wasn’t able to steal games or produce like Price did in Montreal in order to carry a team!

  • Anton CP

    This is clearly that Chiarelli is ready to give up on Brossoit. Montoya has another year left on his contract that is just a slightly more than Brossoit. I would say that I am not all that surprised considering Nick Ellis and Shane Starrett are both set to fill the spots of backup NHL and AHL roles with Dylan Wells will graduate from junior that this season was the last chance for Brossoit and now he is done with the Oilers.