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Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report: Goalies Are Voodoo

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Photo credit:Twitter.com/Condors
Bruce Curlock
3 months ago
I will be the first to admit I don’t understand goalies. I don’t understand the art behind drafting them. I don’t pretend to understand the intricacies of the technical skill set of a “good” goalie. I don’t understand the development path for most goalies. The only thing I for sure understand is success in the game of hockey rarely comes without a goalie having a positive impact on his team.
It’s something that most Oiler fans have become familiar with in the past several seasons. Last year, a young Stuart Skinner came to the rescue and saved the season when prized free agent signing, Jack Campbell struggled. This year both goalies have taken their terms struggling to find good form in the net. While not the sole cause, or even maybe the root cause, goaltending has played a vital role in the poor start for the Edmonton Oilers. So much so that the Oilers are rumoured to be casting about for a trade to acquire a goaltender. Perhaps fortuitous, the Oilers appear to be developing a goalie prospect in the minors. More on him, Pat Maroon’s clone, and other news notes below in the Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report.

What Did I See This Week?

Frankly, not a great deal happened this week again. This is becoming a trend for Oiler prospects. Some of it is a lack of gameplay, however, some of it is a lack of prospects. This organization is not blessed with a large number of them. When combined with injuries, it can make for little to watch. This week there were two players who showed continued progress which gives me some hope for each of them this season.

Olivier Rodrigue

Rodrigue has taken a long path to where he is today. The second-round pick of the Oilers in 2018 has played in Drummondville, Montcon, Austria, Wichita and Bakersfield since that draft day. Last year it looked like he had finally settled into his role and started producing good results. Rodrigue ended the year playing 29 games and recording a .912 save percentage and a 2.77 goals-against average. This season has seen him play only three of the Condors’ ten games. Some of that is trying to sort out Jack Campbell, but some of it is quite frankly unfair. Rodrigue carries a 2.00 goals against and a .942 save percentage, both of which are the best of all three goalies. If you think his numbers are skewed by shot totals, you’d be wrong. He has faced an average of 37 shots a night. Again, more than either Pickard or Campbell.
What has stood out for me is Rodrigue’s composure. His movements are efficient and tight. He is able to move quickly from side to side while not exposing many openings for shooters to attack. Watch this long clip and track his movements. Notice how quick, but composed he is moving around the crease.

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Again, watch this odd-man rush by the Wranglers and notice how poised he is on the play despite the numerical disadvantage he has. The Wranglers end up really botching this play, but I would not rule out Rodrigue as part of the reason the play broke down.

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The two areas that I had previous concerns about seem also to be non-issues any longer. The first was his size. He is listed at 6’1″, but I am not sure about that metric. In past years, he used to have struggles getting around screens and getting big on lateral plays. That seems to have gone away for the most part. Even the biggest of net-front screens, do not seem to impact Rodrigue. Watch this clip where he battles through an imposing screen to make the save and freeze the puck.

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On the other area of concern, I don’t have any video to show. Mostly, that is because it does not happen anymore. Rodrigue had this habit of letting in one bad goal per game. It was absolutely a routine situation game in and game out until later last season. Now, it does not exist at all. Whether that is better mental acuity in the game or just maturation of the player, it is a very encouraging sign for the 23-year-old goalie.
As for the future, the player needs some run. I understand the challenges of managing this situation for the Oilers organization, but Rodrigue is sending a message. To me, he looks ready to take the net and play big minutes. Will he get that chance? Time will tell.

Shane Lachance

I posted the other day that I think a lot of Pat Maroon and what might have been with the Oilers. I did that, not because I was watching Pat Maroon clips, but because I was watching another player – Shane Lachance. When I watch him play, I see so much of Pat Maroon in his game. First and foremost, he is a monster of a human being. He is listed at 6’4″ and 218 pounds. However, I would be stunned if he isn’t more like 6’5″ and 225 pounds. He is incredibly difficult for defenders to handle. Here is a clip that is indicative of how he operates. NHL defenders would struggle to move this player off the crease. He also uses his body to create separation at timely moments for goal-scoring opportunities.

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He also has an absolute mean streak as a player. Witness this episode in the USHL last year.

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He is an imposing force on the ice, just like Maroon.
More importantly, like Maroon, he has excellent hands. Here is a goal I have shown previously. Look at the ease and confidence with which he re-routes the puck into the net from quite a ways off the net.

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This week, his hands were on display for his playmaking in tight quarters. He did it in a variety of ways. He showed an excellent quick read ability on the powerplay. Managing to make a very tight-quarters pass for the goal.

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He made an excellent retrieval followed by a pretty pass to Lane Hutson (who should have been an Oiler draft pick).

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Finally, he took the puck to the net hard, creating chaos for the defending team. This allowed his teammate to tap home an easy goal.

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Not everything was apples this week for Lachance. He finally showed off his wicked wrist shot as well. I remain convinced this is NHL-level in terms of pace and accuracy.

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For sure, there is a lot to work on with this player. His edgework is an area where improvement could be had, leading to tremendous results. His balance is also lacking because his upper body is often hunched over while he skates. Again, this area can be improved with power skating work. That said, Shane Lachance is starting his freshman NCAA season with a bang. His 3-5-8 in 12 games is top 25 in the nation for freshmen. Those are strong results given that this player predominantly plays fourth-line minutes on a powerful team and was 6th round draft pick. The arrows are up on this pick and while he is a long way off, the Edmonton Oilers have a prospect of substance here.

News & Notes

Hat tip to Robin Brownlee who broke the news that Beau Akey would miss the remainder of the year due to recovery from surgery for a dislocated shoulder. It seems this one is a rite of passage for all Oiler prospects. I wish him the best in his recovery.
That’s it for this week, everyone. Feedback is always welcome here or to @bcurlock on the X. Have a great week.

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