Both of the Oilers veteran goaltenders will become unrestricted free agents next season. Dwayne Roloson will be almost 40 years old, and I really wonder if Mathieu Garon will want to stay in Edmonton after how the goaltending situation has been handled so far this year. Now there is a lot of season left for things to turn around, but Garon certainly isn't getting the rope from Craig MacTavish that Dwayne Roloson received last year. So if both veterans aren't back, will the Oilers really go with a very unproven (so far anyway) 25 year old Jeff Deslauriers as their starter and 23 year old Devan Dubnyk as his back up?
How about this for a solution if both veterans aren't around and the Oilers don't bring one in through trade or free agency? A 30 year old NHL rookie. The Oilers drafted Bjorn Bjurling in 2004 with their 9th round pick, 274th overall. Guy previously wrote about him here. He was taken in the same draft as Dubnyk, but Bjorling was 25 at the time. He had a good season in the Swedish Elite league last year 2.40 goals against average to go along with a .928 save percentage in 30 games. So far this year with Södertälje he has a higher goals against average of 2.71, but a similar save percentage of .922 in 20 games.
Niklas Backstrom is only one year younger than Bjurling and wasn't drafted but has developed into a number 1 goalie with Minnesota. Jonas Hiller also didn't hear his name called at an NHL draft but appears to be next in line with Anaheim. So precedent has been set and if the Oilers don't bring Roloson back and if Garon doesn't want to come back, the Oilers could be "Head Over Heels" about the goaltender from the land of ABBA, and it would also save them some "Money, Money, Money" which is the "Name Of the Game" and who knows, Bjurling might be a "Super Trouper" who might be telling the Oilers to "Take a Chance On Me"
I apologize profusely for the ABBA references, I have no idea what came over me, if it happens again I'll send out an "SOS"
A couple of other Oilers prospect notes, Jordan Eberle (pictured courtesy The Hockey News)lit the lamp twice for Canada-WHL in the ADT challenge vs. Russia Wednesday night.
The Oilers first round pick, 22nd overall last June is 9th in WHL scoring with 19 goals and 34 assists. He's currently on a 51 goal pace for the Regina Pats, but here's hoping he doesn't play a full season. World Junior team invites will be going out, and his goal scoring prowess so far and good showing during this series should get him an invite. I was told Eberle didn't have a great summer camp, but it's all about showing up in December for this team.
One guy who likely won't get a chance to show up for Canada is Oilers 2007 draft pick Alex Plante. Taken 15th overall, much to the chagrin of a lot of fans and some media members, Plante wasn't named to the WHL team taking on Russia, which probably means he won't get a crack at the World Juniors. It was a long shot anyway, but Plante's play early did peak some interest from Hockey Canada. He's been good lately with 5 points in 4 games, and 15 points overall in 23 games. He's also plus 9 and has 61 penalty minutes. If you pro rate Plante's numbers to a full season it works out to 9 goals, which would be a career high.
And finally when it comes to Oilers prospects and Canada's World Junior team, the copper and blue have to be hoping Riley Nash (pictured celebrating a goal courtesy Cornell Chronicle) comes up big in the next 2 weeks. Nash and the Cornell Big Red play North Dakota twice and have one offs against St. Lawrence and Clarkson. So far the 2007 first rounder has just 2 goals and an assist in the 6 games Cornell has played this year. Nash would make a good checking forward for team Canada, but the fact that he'll have only played 10 games before Canada's camp opens December 11th might hurt him.