Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Oilers will be Gustavsson hunting this off season.

Dwayne Roloson was terrific down the stretch this year for the Oilers. Even the most Oiler hating Flames fan could see that. But he's 39 years old and there is no guarantee he'll be back with the club next year. Will he take a one year deal which is likely what the Oilers want to offer? Will the Oilers give him a 2 year deal which is surely what Roli the Goalie is looking for? It would be a perfect situation if Roloson was to settle for a one year deal as it would give the team a year to bring Jeff Deslauriers along in a 50-50 split and then turn the reins over to him for the 2010 season. But as Guy has pointed out to me a few times, doesn't Roloson want to win a cup before he retires? If he's going to take a one year deal why wouldn't it be with a legitimate contender like Detroit, Philadelphia or even Ottawa who could all have a spot open next year.

So let's say Roloson doesn't come back. What are the Oilers options? Well we know Jeff Deslauriers is one of them. Is he ready to be a number goaltender in the NHL next year. Hell he played in only 10 games this year and had bench sores from watching Dwayne Roloson so much down the stretch. We asked Oilers Assistant G.M. Kevin Prendergast that last night on TPS and you can hear his answers starting at the 9:53 mark of Kevin Prendergast interview part 1 by clicking here. As Prendergast points out it would be best if they didn't have to have a platoon of Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk, but it could come to that. It's highly unlikely that the team will go that route.

Instead they could go fishing on the UFA market or trade spare parts for a veteran. Here's a few guys who could fit that bill:

Scott Clemmensen-New Jersey-UFA
Clemmenson was brilliant for the unholy this year when Martin Brodeur went down with an elbow injury. He won 25 games with New Jersey, that's as many games as he had previously started in his career with Jersey over 5 previous seasons dating back to 2001. The UFA will be looking to hit the jackpot this summer though and dollars and years of the contract he might want could be to rich for the Oilers stop gap preference.

Kari Lehtonen-Atlanta-RFA
The Oilers could throw an offer sheet at the 2nd overall pick from the 2002 draft. It's one the Thrashers might not match because they have Ondrei Pavelec and Johan Hedberg as options, who combined will make almost a million less than what Lehtonen made this past year. Lehtonen comes with a buyer beware tag though. He's only had 21 plus wins once and because of injuries and inconsistencies has played 50 plus games only once. A long shot scenario for the Oilers.

Nikolai Khabibulin-Chicago-UFA
Unless he takes a major pay cut and a short term contract he's not in the Oilers plans, but stranger things have happened, and he's a former Jet so I've included him on the list.

Craig Anderson-Florida-UFA
Anderson made almost 5 million dollars less than Tomas Vokoun this year and for a while had stolen the number one job away in Florida. Anderson had career highs in games played (31) wins (15) and shut outs (3). He's only 27 years old and made just under 600 grand last year, so he'd be attractive to the Oilers from those two stand points. Through November and December Anderson had just 3 regulation losses in 16 games while compiling 7 wins and 3 shutouts. He also finished the year with 4 wins in 5 starts.

Antero Niittymaki/Martin Biron-Philadelphia-UFA
Only one of them will be back with the Flyers, or who knows maybe Philly let's them both walk starts fresh. Biron made 3.5 million last year, Niittymaki was 1.3. Both were also pretty inconsistent but at the right price either could be the short term fix Edmonton is looking for. Getting Biron would probably make Bob Stauffer happy as he really wanted the Oilers to get him a few years back when they traded for Roloson.

Brian Boucher-San Jose-UFA
This is a really interesting one. Boucher would see Edmonton as a chance to play more than the 22 games he started this year. He's seen action in only 59 games since the 2002 season as he fell into the career back up hole. His ticket was only 650 this year and could be a good fit to allow Deslauriers to play 60 per cent of the games. Remember when he did his best Bernie Maddoff impression by robbing NHL shooters in 03-04? He had 5 straight shut outs and a perfection streak of more than 332 minutes. I'm not saying he could ever get to that level, but he did have a stretch this year where he had straight starts without a regulation loss (8-0-1 from Nov 13-Feb 26) He also started the year with 3 straight wins, 2 of them shut outs from (Oct 12-Nov 8)

So there's a list of potential options within the league. But what about in Europe. I've been told that Bjorn Bjurling, whom the team drafted way back in the 9th round of the 2004 draft, would be to risky right now. But Jonas Gustavsson isn't risky business. We talked to Kevin Prendergast about the Swedish sensation last night. You can here his thoughts on Gustavsson, the Oilers interest and if they've spoken to him by clicking here and zooming to the 9 minute mark of the Kevin Prendergast part 3 interview.

If the Oilers could land Gustavsson it would be quite the big fish they would be reeling in, but it would likely be bad news for Jeff Deslauriers. If Gustavsson turned out to be as good as the hype surrounding him it would be great for the Oilers atleast in the short term, depending on the contract, but in the long term might put Deslauriers in the same situation he was in this past year. In order to lure the 6.04, 180 pound pipeman, who threw down a 1.96 gaa and .932 save percentage in 42 games with Farjestad of the SEL, Edmonton might have to guarantee him playing time and pay big bucks. The money might not be an issue, but if they weren't going to give one of their own prospects (Linus Omark) a spot as atleast the 13th forward, are they going to secure starts for a goalie? They'll also have to get in line with cheque book ready as Gustavsson will have a long line of suitors this off season. The most imporantant thing is the Oil are interested and who knows maybe they end up with a version of Niklas Backstrom and hit the jackpot. The off season of change might not just be with the coaching staff and a sniper, there could be new faces in net as well. Stay tuned.


Mike said...

What about Josh Harding? He seems like a legitimate option being a younger, decent goalie that won't get playing time anytime soon now that Backstrom is signed long-term.

Dean Millard said...

it's a good point, and I really like Josh Harding. But I think the Wild would match any offer the Oilers would make for Harding unless it was seriously over the top and I think they've learned their lesson. The reason I put Lehtonen on the list is that I don't think the Trashers would be heart broken if they lost him.

stratedge said...

If there's one place you want to offer sheet RFAs and fail (at least driving up the cost for the other team), it's within your own division. I think the smart thing to do would be to make a reasonable pitch for Harding, and let the Wild match if they so desire. It'd be win/win for the Oilers if you assume that the Wild would pay less negotiating their own contract with their own RFA.

Guy Flaming said...

@ stratedge:

The downside though is that the compensatory picks you give up also go to a team in your own division.