Holes in goal

There was a time in Edmonton when a Billy Ranford would fall from the sky. An established star (Moog) would force his way out and Glen Sather would turn him into something better (or at least he was spring 1990).

If we could return to those times–even just one time–the Edmonton Oilers would be in a better position than they are today. The old Kansas City Royals of the early 1970′s taught all losing teams a valuable lesson the day they plucked Amos Otis from the New York Mets. Otis was struggling badly trying to learn a new position at the major league level (3B, he was a beauty CF), and the Mets sent him away in the winter of 1969 for a spent 3B.

I read an article years later about the Royals, and their franchise building template was always try to acquire players who–if they do work out–could fill a hole for a decade. The general idea was if you could find 2 guys every winter to fill a hole for one decade, you’d be made in the shade by year 5 and pushing for the pennant soonafter (and damned if the Royals didn’t do exactly that).

We’re in the land of free agency at mid-20′s now and of course that cuts into the plan, but the idea still has a very strong pull. If you have a hole, why not put someone in there who can fill that role for a long period instead of plugging it up one year at a time. This wouldn’t apply to a team close to winning it all (the Oilers at the ’06 deadline is the only recent example and it’s a bit of a stretch) but for Edmonton it makes a lot of sense.

Signing Dwayne Roloson is a fine fallback position. He can play here for another year and put this team in a good position to make the second season. However, I hope management at least takes the time to pursue the idea of a Josh Harding.

Find a goalie miles from UFA status who can fill the role in 09-10 and be a better man the following winter. It’s certainly not an easy task, but this team has the freedom to experiement a little with the goalie position. The only road block is Jeff Deslauriers who is once again (incredibly) unproven talent.

I think the Oilers should be shopping for two goalies this summer.

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58 Responses to "Holes in goal"

  1. Coach pb9617 says:

    Tyler came up with the idea of the offer sheet for Josh Harding about a month ago. All it would cost is a second round pick.

    And as I said in one of my earlier entries, unless Legace just hit an absolute wall this year, he deserves a job. Harding as the starter and Legace as cheap insurance would be just fine with me, all for about $3.6 million and a second round pick. Jason LaBarbera & Craig Anderson would also merit consideration as a backup in this case.

    I also wouldn't mind something involving Nilsson or Pouliot or picks for Halak and then sign Legace.

    These are the numbers from my goaltending entry last week:

    List of combined save percentages rank in the NHL since the lockout based on qualifed goalies with more than a single season. The fellas in red have played for a pennant.

  2. Unleaded says:

    Interesting numbers there Coach… I had been looking at Anderson for the last few months of the regular season, and think he would be a good choice for a platoon system, if we were actually going to use one. I liked Tyler’s idea of platooning, but I’m not sure I want to give the wild a draft pick, even for such a high-quality prospect.

    I really feel for JDD right now though. THis season was supposed to be his year to work his way in. 7 games, practices, and a conditioning stint really just don’t cut it for goaltender development. If I were the kid, or the kid’s agent, I’d be on the phone looking for alternatives.

    If the Oilers don’t have room for him this year, what are the chances they cut a deal with a team in the RSL (Omsk maybe?) and have him play there? Development time for him, DD, and solid tending for the Oilers makes almost too much sense…

  3. Lowetide says:

    Great stuff, coach. Frickin’ Hasek. Could he still play?

  4. Unleaded says:

    I meant Tyler’s idea of getting Harding… blah…

  5. B.C.B. says:

    No offense to Tyler (and his lovely blog), but my teammate Shespo has been on the Harding RFA offer sheet for quite a while.

    It is in the comment section to this post:

  6. boopronger says:

    Is running JDD totally out of the question? I mean, he did beat Calgary like what, 3 times? (4 including preseason).

  7. speeds says:

    What do you think about ATL as a fit, LT?

    They have both Pavelec and Lehtonen, and are rumored to be somewhat willing to move the #4 OV for current help.

    Not sure how much salary they’d be looking to take on, or who would be a good fit for them?

  8. Lowetide says:

    Thrashers would be a good match coming our way (and it would be nice to trade up) but what do they need? NHL defensemen?

  9. Mr DeBakey says:

    what do they need? NHL defensemen? Actually, their D isn’t bad
    [for a SE Division, Non-play-off team, with no player budget]:

    Ron Hainsey
    Zach Bogosian
    Garnet Exelby
    Tobias Enstrom

    But they could use a little bit of every thing.
    Lots of cheap everythings.

  10. Showerhead says:

    Oh Bill Ranford: the reason I stayed an Oiler fan between moving away from Edmonton as a child and being reborn when Edmonton came back from 3-0 late against Dallas and then Cujo/Marchant did the unthinkable a few days later. I remember the first fumbling around I ever did with HTML (I was 12, maybe?) involved putting together a tribute site for Ranford, claiming he was still better than the incoming all star Joseph. Whoops :)

    Regardless, as much as I am a huge fan of Roloson and his helmet losing, puck batting, crotchety old man style of play it’s about danged time we had some assurance towards the future between Edmonton’s pipes. I wonder just how many items Tambellini can cross off his to do list in one summer and given Roloson’s track record, he’d be an easy fallback to delay the decision/move for another year. Hopefully that’s plan B, or at least 1A.

  11. bookie says:

    Roloson was great this year, but the problem is that all goalies who dont suck, have the same reputation amongst their team and fans.

    There is a bias for goalies when it comes to ‘saw him good’

  12. Coach pb9617 says:

    Thanks LT and Unleaded.

    Here’s a hearty “I’m sorry” to the Bringing Back the Glory crew.

    I worked this up and found that you don’t need the big ticket to play for a pennant.

    It seems that strength of team has way more to do with getting deep than strength of goalie.

    Thrashers would be a good match coming our way (and it would be nice to trade up) but what do they need? NHL defensemen?

    :) Man, you are ALL about trading Gilbert.

  13. Coach pb9617 says:

    Great stuff, coach. Frickin’ Hasek. Could he still play?His numbers were in sharp decline when he left. Of course, they weren’t as bad as others on the list though.

    So yes, he could still play, but only as well as Miikka Kiprusoff.

  14. speeds says:

    I can squint really hard and convince myself both teams go for:

    Gilbert, Cogliano, Nilsson and 10 OV


    Lehtonen, Exelby, 4 OV

    Then again, I can also convince myself that neither team likes that deal.

    Anyone else with any other (equally bad, lol? ) ideas?

  15. speeds says:

    Actually, the more I think about it, I don’t think the deal needs to be that big.

    Does Gilbert for Lehtonen work as a starting point, or do both teams like what they have too much to make that deal?

  16. godot10 says:

    //Gilbert, Cogliano, Nilsson and 10 OV…//

    It would be nuts to trade Gilbert and Cogliano for a goaltender, when Huet or Vokoun could likely be had for next to nothing as contract dumps.

  17. Lowetide says:

    speeds: Is Lehtonen healthy?

  18. speeds says:

    Godot10: I don’t think that’s an unreasonable point. I can only say that I don’t think EDM makes this trade without thinking Lehtonen still has “franchise goaltender potential”. The more I think about it, the more I think I agree with your viewpoint.

    You think it’s still too tilted with Cogliano removed? What about leave Cogliano, but remove the 10 OV?

    To give credit, I am more or less stealing this idea from an HF postLT:

    I haven’t heard anything specifically. It would seem to be a gamble.

  19. PDO says:

    Re-sign Roloson to a one year deal, use JDD to get a pick at the draft (could a second rounder be plausible?), and then offer sheet Harding please.

  20. Coach pb9617 says:

    I can only say that I don’t think EDM makes this trade without thinking Lehtonen still has “franchise goaltender potential”.

    Fix the franchise first, then find a goalie that works in the framework.

  21. Mr DeBakey says:

    I too think that's a bit high for Lehtonen.
    A quick look at CapCentral shows the Thrashers have three guys under contract
    w/ Pavelec & Hedberg

    I wonder if they're still as high on Pavelec as they were.

    Plus there are a flock of UFA keepers
    + the aforementioned salary dumps

    Now, if they'd throw Armstrong…

  22. blackadder says:

    Harding, Halak and either of Atlanta’s young goalies would all be great additions. Can’t see Minnesota trading Harding to a divisional rival, though. If I’m Minn, and the Oilers sign him to an offer sheet, I match the offer and ship him to an Eastern Conf team. Halak and Pavelec are better bets – Montreal’s committed to Price and they need a veteran to mentor him (ala Moog/Theodore). Atlanta, if they want to keep Kovalchuk, need desperately to get better quickly. I could see a Pavelec being made available for one of the Oilers smaller, offensively talented players and/or prospects. Maybe Linus Omark would interest them if packaged with Nilsson? Would Eberle be an overpay? I’m not so sure.

    What Montreal would want for Halak is hard to say, since they need players everywhere. They’d want an established player, not a prospect, and I don’t see them being interested in any Oiler forwards. And Gilbert/Grebeshkov seems too much for Halak without something being added to the deal. Maybe they take Souray back?

    Can’t see JDD being here next year. Because of how badly he’s been handled since being drafted in 2002, he’s still at least a year (probably more, if ever) from being an NHL regular. Oilers would’ve been better off having him play 60 games in the AHL last year.

  23. PDO says:

    You can’t trade a player for a year after you match an offer sheet on him.

  24. Bruce says:

    If I’m Minn, and the Oilers sign him to an offer sheet, I match the offer and ship him to an Eastern Conf team.

    Blackadder: Isn’t there some kind of regulation that if you match an offer sheet, you have to keep the guy for a year (?). I think the “match and trade” option doesn’t work in the NHL. Speeds?

  25. Bruce says:

    Oops. What PDO said.

  26. Coach pb9617 says:

    Now, if they’d throw Armstrong...

    That sentence was like hockey porn to me.

  27. PDO says:

    That sentence was like hockey porn to me.

    I thought that was called a Zach Stortini fight?

  28. blackadder says:

    Completely forgot about the “match and trade clause”…

    Still, I just can’t see Minnesota letting Harding go to the Oilers.

  29. Bruce says:

    Is Lehtonen healthy?

    Recent injury history of Kari (Ten Foot Pole) Lehtonen, courtesy sportsnet.ca:
    Oct 6, 2005: Groin, sidelined indefinitely.
    Dec 26, 2005: Missed 35 games (groin).
    Apr 7, 2006: Sprained ankle, sidelined indefinitely.
    Apr 18, 2006: Missed the last 6 games of the regular season (sprained ankle).
    Sep 7, 2006: Re-signed as a restricted free agent by the Atlanta Thrashers to a two-year contract.
    Oct 19, 2007: Groin, sidelined indefinitely.
    Nov 26, 2007: Missed 16 games (groin) and assigned to Chicago (AHL).
    Dec 1, 2007: Recalled from Chicago (AHL).
    Jul 16, 2008: Re-signed as a restricted free agent by the Atlanta Thrashers.
    Nov 1, 2008: Back injury, day-to-day.
    Dec 20, 2008: Missed 21 games (back injury).
    Mar 28, 2009: Upper body injury, day-to-day.
    Apr 11, 2009: Missed 6 games (upper body injury)

  30. Showerhead says:

    Bruce: thank you for that. The guy could never get hurt again in his career and still not have franchise goalie potential if only from the missed time.

  31. Coach pb9617 says:

    I thought that was called a Zach Stortini fight?

    Bruce, there’s a message here for you.

  32. PDO says:

    I like Zach fine, that was just too easy :D

  33. Chris says:

    I don’t think I’d give up much to acquire Lehtonen. He’s a great goalie but he’s the goaltending version of someone like Gaborik or Havlat. Sure he’s great but he’s expensive and down (with injuries) more often than a sorority girl at a frat party.

    I’d be pretty happy if the Oilers could pull Halak or Harding away from their respective organizations. If not there are alot of decent options on the free agent market. Legace is probably due to rebound. Labarbara has always seemed to be knocking on the door. Anderson also looks to have some really solid potential. Clemmenson looked sharp for the Devils but who knows how much that was the system as opposed to him. Martin Biron is certainly a solid option as well.

    You can also bring Roloson back for one more year as a security blanket. Obviously he can’t play forever but he still looked good this last season so there is obviously a bit of gas left in the tank.

  34. Chris says:

    But given that this thread is a tribute to my favourite Oiler in the post 1990 to Ryan Smyth era, on another nostalgic note you know what free agent would look really good on this team – Todd Marchant. He would bring exactly what we need to this team, toughness, checking, a competitive nature and a vetran presence.

  35. LMHF#1 says:

    PDO – That’s way WAY too much money to be spending on goalies for this team.

    Go get one of Halak/Price and Gustavsson. Cheap and gives them all kinds of options going forward.

    One might even start for a decade. I believe in that approach to acquisitions.

  36. Gord says:

    I'm not a goaltender specialist – but I believe in high risk / high reward reclamation projects.

    With Quinn as coach, offer Ray Emery $1.5 million per year on a two year contract.

    That costs us nothing in draft picks or young assets; Emery kicked butt in Russia & has something to prove in North America – where he wants to play.

    Regular season in Russia:

    Emery finished with a 22-8-0 record, 2.12 goals against average, and a .920 save percentage.


    Losing the first round, a .941 save percentage & a 1.86 GAA…

    Just a thought…

  37. Rod says:

    Couldn’t agree more LT. Roli was great last year, but the team needs to look forward. To me that means means Halak and/or Harding. Emery’s a decent option too. Question mark there is whether he’s a good fit with the current Oiler roster (and the rumoured fractured locker room). Still, those numbers are impressive so Emery’s a good choice too.

    All of that said, top priority in the crease: new goalie coach. The mismanagement of ‘tender assets last season bordered on insane. Peters should be shown the door for that alone. To top it off, has Peters helped develop any Oiler goalie prospects into an NHL role encompassing at least double-digit appearances in a season?

    Put it another way… Would you trust Peters anywhere near Halak, Harding, or Emery?

  38. Mr DeBakey says:

    Mirtle did a piece a while back comparing the top European goalies – KHL, Swedish & Finnish leagues etc.

    Emery's Save PCT wasn't in the Top 10.
    I'm not sure it was even in the Top 20

  39. Chris says:

    Yea I remember seeing that Emery’s backup was actually statistically better than him at some point through that season.

  40. DBO says:

    I’ve been on the Harding bandwagon for a while, but i agree that minnesota more then likely will not deal him to a rival. And not to mention that Backstrom i believe may have had off season surgery, so they may keep him to start the season. Other then halak who I like, (but Montreal has cap space) and Lehtonen (who is great when healthy, which is rarely) i think with a Quinn team competing for a playoff spot and his liking of veterans we could pick up 2 good goalies for $4 mill. Make a pitch for Dan Ellis in nashville. Rinne took over the starters position last year, and nashville needs forwards who are affordable. they lack some skill guys, and need to re sign Sullivan and a few other vets to fill out the roster. May only take a mid round pick and one of our extra forwards (Nashville may be a good spot for Pouliot). His cap hit is $2 mill. then offer Anderson $2 mill and the chance to compete for the starters position. Gives us a chance to have 2 28 year old goalies fighting for the starters position and we sign the winner long term. Sorry JDD, but back to the minors or out the door. $4 mill on goalies is affordable and those two give us our best chance for some stability in the net for thenext 5 or 6 years.

  41. Matt N says:

    Trading valuable commodities like Cogliano and Gilbert for goaltending is just crazy talk IMO.

    Is the difference in performance between a perceived higher level player like Harding or Lehtonen all that different from Rollie, Anderson or Clemmonson? You can have one of these guys for nothing but $$.

    I am not completely against moving one of these guys but there had better be a top 6 guy or coming back.

  42. knighttown says:

    I like DBO’s 2x mid/low level guys idea with Ellis and Anderson and Clemmenson, although I wouldn’t go much over 1.5 each.

    Apparently there are 27 (27!) UFA goalies available this offseason.

    One name that isn’t mentioned much is Giguere. I mean, he isn’t a fit in Edmonton but a probable Top 10 NHL goalie has got to go somewhere doesn’t he? Who’s looking for a starter?

    -Edm (no cap room unless its Penner for JS)
    -Phi (not enough cap room)
    -Det (maybe not even interested but still no cap room)
    -Tor (probable but that puts another decent option in Toskala out there)
    -Wash (my bet for where JS goes)
    -Col (another option)
    -LA (can’t see Anaheim moving him there and I think LA feels their kids will be good enough by the team the team is ready)

    There are at least 90 goalies available for 60 NHL spots.

    Buyers market!

  43. Coach pb9617 says:

    One name that isn’t mentioned much is Giguere. I mean, he isn’t a fit in Edmonton but a probable Top 10 NHL goalie has got to go somewhere doesn’t he? Who’s looking for a starter?

    Not for 6 million per

  44. PDO says:

    Giggy has a NMC and an extremely sick kid. Anaheim is one of the few places in the world he can be properly treated.

    He isn’t going anywhere.

  45. Traktor says:

    When was the last time a goalie didn’t have a lights out sv% playing for the Wild?

    I know Harding has good numbers in the AHL but I think he’s a byproduct of the team he plays for.

    Its probably no coincidence either that his worst statistical season happens to be the same season he set a career high in games played.

    Big pass on Harding.

  46. Traktor says:

    Giggy was finished when they put regulations on equipment. He’ll never get back to his MVP level.

  47. ian says:

    Here is my suggestion,
    Sign Roli for one or two years and play him 50/50 or 60/40 with JDD
    Run with that for 30 or so games then fix if necessary.
    The cap hit would be good for the Oilers and we would find out if we have the starter coming up that we thought we did.

  48. Traktor says:

    Interesting looking at some of the the regular season/playoff splits for Harding:

    Regina Pats-WHL
    9.06 sv%
    2.39 gaa

    .890 sv%
    2.95 gaa

    Regina – 12-14-2
    .927 sv%
    2.41 gaa
    Brandon – 13-11-3
    .920 sv%
    2.42 gaa

    .897 sv%
    3.37 gaa

    Houston Aeros-AHL
    .930 sv%
    2.01 gaa

    .893 sv%
    4.03 gaa

    .922 sv%
    2.68 gaa

    .886 sv%
    3.79 gaa

    See the trend?

    Give this guy a starter opportunity and he will fall on his face.

  49. kris says:


    23 playoff games is a pretty small sample size compared to 173 regular season games.

    My guess is, if you broke his 173 regular season games into 20 game chunks, he’d be above his average in some, below his average in others.

    Interesting post about Wild goalies having inflated SV%. You should do research on that and post your results.

    You could call it “Goalies Gone Wild”

  50. quain says:

    Well, he’s no Carey Price that’s for sure. That guy knew how to succeed in the playoffs, he has heart!

  51. Matt N says:

    Whats his “big save” % ?

  52. Bruce says:

    Whats his “big save” % ?

    Pretty much all of them, I’d say. Thing is, a routine save as at least equally Big as a Big Save, because if you don’t make the routine save then you’ve allowed a Soft Goal. And we all know that when it comes to Momentum, a Soft Goal produces at least an equal and opposite reaction as a Big Save. Probably Bigger. All the Big Saves in the world won’t make up for Soft Goals.

    Unless you win. Then it’s all hail the Big Save.


  53. NBOilerFan says:

    I would like to see them take a shot at Biron, as long as the price was in the 3mil range and sign him for 2-3yrs.

    He had very similar numbers to Roloson last season and he had slightly better numbers the year before. He’s only 31.

    I suspect he will be the prime target though and will get higher bids elsewhere.

    I also do not see Tambs throwing out an offer sheet on Harding (or anyone else). I think they want to continue to move forward and leave all the offer-sheet bitterness behind them with Tambellini now at the reins.

  54. Traktor says:


    Harding 0.929
    Backstrom 0.923


    Backstrom 0.920
    Harding 0.909


    Harding 0.960 (only 361 minutes)
    Backstrom 0.929
    Fernandez 0.911


    Fernandez 0.919
    Roloson 0.910
    Harding 0.904


    No games played


    Roloson 0.933
    Fernandez 0.915


    Roloson 0.927
    Fernandez 0.924

    Roloson on the Wild

    02/03 – 0.927
    03/04 – 0.933
    05/06 – 0.910

    Roloson on Oilers

    05/06 – 0.905
    06/07 – 0.909
    07/08 – 0.901
    08/09 – 0.915

    Fernandez on Wild

    02/03 – 0.924
    03/04 – 0.915
    05/06 – 0.919
    06/07 – 0.911

    Fernandez on Bruins

    07/08 – 0.832 (only played 244 mins)
    08/09 – 0.910

    Tim Thomas in 08/09 – 0.933

  55. Art Vandelay says:

    Fine, but who’s gonna play the role of “Whitey Herzog?”

  56. NBOilerFan says:

    This is unfortunately a bit late, but I hope some of you guys still go through oulder blog entries.

    But I have two comments/questions:

    (1) What the hell happened here with Garon and the organization? I don’t recall teh Edmonton media ever really asking anyone of impact on what actually went on and why he was only given a few oppurtunities before he was pulled and never given another look. Did he piss in Peters cornflakes or what the hell really went down?

    (2) What I’m also wondering about is what happened to the Oiler fans love in of Garon? Easily the majority of fans were loving the Garon pickup since he was acquired and most thought he was our #1 guy at the start of last season and thought we should trade Rolie. does anyone still think Garon might have what it takes to be a #1?

  57. Ribs says:

    Know what’s messed up? No matter what happens, one of our throwaway goalies ends up with a cup ring this year.

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