The Oilers have gone “In Search Of…” goaltending several times in their history. They usually find adequate men, it sometimes takes more than one try, and they’ve struck gold a time or two.
OILERS ACQUIRING GOALIES, 1979-2010
- March 11, 1980: RON LOW. Oilers traded their first NHL captain (Ron Chipperfield) because they were so desperate to solve the goaltending problem. Edmonton employed 6 goalies in their first NHL season, with Low finally settling things down and starting all 3 of their playoff games, spring 1980.
- March 8, 1988: BILL RANFORD. Eight years later, the Oilers were looking to deal Andy Moog (who was playing for the Canadian National Team during 87-88 season, waiting for a deal) and found a strong return from Boston (Ranford and Geoff Courtnall came from the Bruins). I think this is a good comparable for the Oilers today, in that “need” drove the Bruins to a deal that they were thrilled to make but which came back to haunt them just two years later.
- March 10, 1992: RON TUGNUTT. The Oilers still had Bill Ranford as the starter, but not a lot behind him. Slats dealt Martin Rucinsky for Tugnutt and would lose him to expansion 15 months later. It was not a good value trade, but Sather usually did well in his deals so I’m hesitant to rip him for it.
- August 4, 1995: CURTIS JOSEPH. This was a Godsend, absolutely manna from heaven. The Oilers acquired Grier and Joseph for 1st rd picks in 1996 and 1977, but it’s more complicated than that (the Blues signed Shayne Corson to an offer sheet–Keenan needed him badly–and didn’t want to lose the first round picks) in that the picks were STL’s and they bought them back with CuJo and Rosie. One of the best trades in team history, two men of the highest order for Shayne Corson. Lordy.
- June 14, 1996: BOB ESSENSA. Oilers acquired him from Detroit for futures (still don’t know what it ended up being) and he provided solid goaltending in a (mostly) backup role during his time with Edmonton.
- October 1, 1998: MIKHAIL SHTALENKOV. By now, Joseph had flown the coop via free agency and the Oilers weren’t completely convinced Essensa could carry the entire load (that’s my recall) and chose to give Steve Passmore another AHL season (he’d kill it, but never did establish himself).
- March 20, 1999: TOMMY SALO. Sather remained restless after the Joseph exit, and his final pickup in the NHL goalie department was Salo. Tommy Gun was already famous for wilting under the shattering criticism of Mike “empire builder” Milbury, but would settle in for a long run as the Oilers #1. He would play in 15 playoff games with the Oilers.
- March 8, 2006: DWAYNE ROLOSON. Kevin Lowe’s 2nd most famous “good trade” cost a first round pick in 2006 and was worth every penny. Roloson would backstop the legendary ’06 group to the SCF finals before injury robbed him (and us) of the opportunity to play in the finals (after game one). This was the type of trade you make when close to winning it all–it would be a foolish move for such a young and developing team (like the current edition) but it was splendid at the time.
Sather was outstanding at getting quality, witness the Ranford and Joseph pickups above. Trading for goalies can be expensive, especially the highly ranked ones, and for that reason I think we all hope Devan Dubnyk can recover soon and re-set his season.
The Ben Bishop miss looms large, and was most certainly an opportunity missed. Craig MacTavish is cornered, and the chances of making a ‘Moog for Ranford and Geoff Courtnall’ deal are very good. It’s a damned tight spot, ladies.