Monday, January 14, 2008

Oiler Goalies to Get Swede-r?

Someone is going to read this (hopefully) and when he or she is done they'll say out loud "WTF is Flaming talking about now?" but I assure you, I'm not Eklund nor a guy who talks about trade rumours or signings very often so believe me that this is not just something I've pulled out of my, er... hat.

Many Oiler fans out there would like to see GM Kevin Lowe shed goaltender Dwayne Roloson, his hefty contract and that cheery disposition to any of the teams that, on the outside, look like they need someone. I'm here to tell you that if they can, they will, and that in itself shouldn't be news to anyone.

The question then becomes, who backs up Mathieu Garon for the rest of this season and then 2008-09 too?

Jeff Deslauriers (he's basically dropped the Drouin- these days) is the only guy available in the system who could step in and be the bench warmer as Garon shoulders the vast majority of the workload. Deslauriers has terrific numbers in the AHL this year and on some nights he's played better than even those stats would suggest.

Dubnyk has only been good and behind him, Glenn Fisher in Stockton has fizzled after a hot start. So looking ahead to 2008-09, who would be the guy to play behind Garon with the Oilers or in Springfield to split time with Dubnyk, especially if Fisher's struggles continue?

Enter Bjorn Bjurling.

Unless you're a prospect junkie like most readers of Hockey's Future or its subsection message boards, you probably have never heard of Bjorn Bjurling (see picture). Well in brief: Edmonton drafted him as a 24-year-old that was playing in the Swedish Elite League in 2004. At the time the Oilers had Ty Conklin and Jussi Markkanen, weren't 100% sold on either of them at the time and needed someone with some experience in case... well, just in case.

The farm was in shambles (no AHL affiliate) so having a mid-20-year-old goalie playing pro in Europe was a smart move. Unfortunately Bjurling lost his SEL job and had to move to Austria and then Norway to find work, which are not the most respected pro leagues out there. However, this year he's back in Sweden and turning a lot of heads with his play for Södertälje.

Bjurling started the year as the veteran back up/tutor to Buffalo draft pck Jhonas Enroth but I'm told, began to play more and more and eventually took over the starting job. Enroth left to play in the WJC and now Bjurling's stats line is an attractive 19 GP, 2.33 GAA (3rd best in SEL) and .934 save% (Best in SEL).

Now, two things to keep in mind here is that he's still only played half the games and that Enroth's stats are pretty much the same as Bjurling's so there might be more at play here than just solid goaltending (IE: team defensive play).

Still, sources tell me that Bjurling is in the mix and getting consideration by the Oilers to compete in camp for the back up NHL job next fall and if he lost it to Deslauriers, could play the same role in Springfield for Dubnyk as he is currently in Södertälje for Enroth.

For Lowe and the Oilers, at least it would mean not having to go shopping for a free agent goalie and instead using that money elsewhere.

Something to consider.

Photo courtesy of


Anonymous said...

So, iyo, the Oilers are sold on Garon? No question marks left? The reason I ask is because a lot guys play great between the pipes as long as they aren't the go to guy but have trouble when they get the #1 designation. Moving your #1, as Roloson was to start the season, has to be the trickiest move a GM ever has to make.

Guy Flaming said...

I suppose ultimately it depends on a couple of things: 1) obviously that Garon keeps playing as he has been, but surely so far no one would argue that he's looking like a #1 this year. 2) If the Oilers claw their way back into playoff contention (for 8th I mean, not the Cup) they might be more willing to hold onto Roloson or take back a goalie in a deadline deal... just in case.

But if they're still in 13th as the deadline approaches, why wouldn't they move Roloson if they could find a taker?

Anonymous said...

So, who would they trade him to? Penguins were one of the teams being considered, but lately Conklin has actually been playing well, so they really aren't an option. Another team that could use a goalie is Calgary, but I don't believe that there has ever been a trade between the BoA teams.

Guy Flaming said...

Ask me again in about a month when the deadline is closer and the picture might be clearer.

Anonymous said...

Ask me again in about a month when the deadline is closer and the picture might be clearer.

Agreed on all counts. If they are out of it come the middle of February I expect to see Lowe start thinking about what he can do to get ready for next year. I really like Garon - my concern is who is behind Garon if we trade Rolie and Garon gets hurt. Of course none of that matters if they are totally out of it at the trade deadline.

Nice to see you with your own blog btw.

Guy Flaming said...

Nice to see you with your own blog btw.

Well it's a co-op... I'm sharing the rent with Millard. But thanks! Walking before we can run, it'll be a place for us to throw some stuff out there that didn;t make it to the show, or we ran out of time to develop completely.

And it'll be different than my HF stuff which is more info than anything else, opinion pieces not the forte there.