Goaltending prospect Olivier Rodrigue is pushing into the conversation for NHL call-up
2 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers recently graduated a successful goaltender from prospect to NHLer. Might they have another around the corner?
All the way back in 2018, the Oilers weren’t a great team and, once again, had a top-10 draft pick. They had themselves quite a draft, as they selected Evan Bouchard with their first pick and Ryan McLeod with their second. They also packaged their third- and fifth-round picks to move up to select goaltender Olivier Rodrigue, who’s developed into a very interesting goaltending prospect.
Edmonton drafted the Chicoutimi-born goaltender from the Drummondville Voltigeurs after he had a .903 save percentage and 2.54 goals-against average in 2017-18. Rodrigue had two more successful seasons in the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (then Quebec Major Junior Hockey League), before transitioning to the professional side of the game.
During the COVID pandemic, the Oilers loaned him out to The Moser Medical Graz99ers (what a name!) in Austria’s top league, where he posted a .902 save percentage in 23 games before returning to North America. He finished the season with the Bakersfield Condors, posting an .894 save percentage in 11 games, along with a 2.99 goals-against average.
Rodrigue’s 2021-22 season wasn’t great in the American Hockey League, posting an .886 save percentage and 3.09 goals-against average in 13 games. However, his play in the East Coast Hockey League was much more encouraging, as he had a .907 save percentage and 3.57 goals-against average in 15 games played.
Everything changed for the netminder in 2022-23, where he had a .912 save percentage and 2.77 goals-against average in 29 games with Bakersfield in the American Hockey League. While Calvin Pickard played the majority of Bakersfield games, suiting up for 38, but Rodrigue raised his stock significantly last season.
That only continued in 2023-24, where he has broken out as one of the league’s best goaltenders in his 10 games played. Out of qualified goaltenders with 540 minutes or more played, Rodrigue’s .938 save percentage ranks as the best, while his 2.09 goals-against average is second in the league. While Jack Campbell was sent to the AHL to find his confidence, he ultimately wound up losing the net to Rodrigue, who stopped 29 of 30 shots in a Bakersfield win over the Henderson Silver Knights on Wednesday.
This begs the question, why hasn’t Rodrigue gotten the call-up ahead of Calvin Pickard? The reality is that Pickard is an older goaltender with more experience in the NHL, so his solid play with the Condors made him the logical choice to bring up when Campbell was sent down. Also, the Oilers aren’t concerned about Pickard’s development, so they can have him back up Skinner and not worry about him sitting out a handful of games after being shelled.
Either way, Rodrigue’s time will be coming sooner rather than later, and the 23-year-old netminder is one that everyone should be keeping an eye on in the near future. It might be worth giving him a shot at the big-league level before the Oilers decide if they need to acquire another goaltender. Maybe they have lightning in a bottle here.
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