The Long and Winding Road

No matter what happens, the Edmonton Oilers cannot claim any kind of brilliance in the development of Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. Drafted in 2002 (he fell, JDD was the number one NA goalie that season according to several scouting services), Deslauriers has been a nomad and has often been inert since turning pro in 2004.

The Oilers didn’t have a farm team at times, didn’t have a very good farm team at others, and finally had him spend his first NHL season sitting on his bottom for most of the games. Despite being taken pretty early (Oilers dealt Jochen Hecht for the picks that became Deslauriers and Stoll), JDD has taken exactly forever to get here. The questions are many: is he any good? If he is, why didn’t MacT play him? Did last night serve notice to the Oilers and the rest of the league? If JDD’s numbers in the minors are average (and they are) then what does that tell us about tracking goalie prospects using minor league numbers? Does it mean Dubnyk will be an equally large surprise?

By way of example, here’s where I’ve had him rated at various times during his career on the top 20 prospect list:

  • June 2003: #6
  • November 2004: #2
  • Spring 2005: #2
  • Winter 2006: #11
  • June 2007: Not on the list
  • Winter 2007: #17
  • Summer 2008: #17
  • Winter 2008: #12
  • Summer 2009: #15

I summed up my own feelings on him in the winter of 2008 when ranking him 17th:

  • However, his junior and minor league seasons rolling out over half a decade tells us he’s a mid-level prospect, properly slotted after the rocket prospects and a few of the flawed men, but well ahead of the muckers, grinders, imps, Coke machines with questionable hands, the Hail Mary’s and the personal favourites.

If JDD does develop and become a quality #1 starter, guys like me are going to need to take a long look at save percantage and its value. Things like quality of team, number of powerplays surrendered and experience level of the blue may need to be factored in and honestly the idea that AHL save percentage is a number that predicts the future might be called into question.

For their part, I’ve long felt the Oilers needed to make a decision on this player and the management has hung onto him like grim death, bastardizing last year’s roster to keep him away from waivers. I do not understand why they’ve developed him this way, and if he ends up being an actual player then the Oilers organization has to ask some pretty basic questions. Like, do we know what the hell we’re doing.

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