The Edmonton Oilers demolished their goaltending facade prior to this season’s trade deadline, sending Devan Dubnyk to Nashville (since shipped to Montreal), Ilya Bryzgalov to Minnesota and Jason LaBarbera to Chicago. Replacing them are Ben Scrivens, a career backup, and Viktor Fasth, a second year NHLer at the age of 31.
The Oilers crease hasn’t been a place of stability and confidence since Dwayne Roloson, and that is even a stretch. Maybe it was Tommy Salo, or maybe it is all the way back to Bill Ranford. The past is the past, and we can only look to the future. There doesn’t seem to be much help on the horizon in terms of prospects so it looks like a Scrivens-Fasth combo for at least the near future.
And to me, that is a scary thought. As someone who lives in Ottawa and has watched the Senators struggle for years to find consistent goaltending, I know how aggravating it must be to have such a revolving door in the Oilers crease, with high hopes for some that don’t pan out. I also know how important it is, and no matter how many goals the young forwards can put up, its not going to make a difference if they can’t keep the puck out of their own net.
I have also seen Scrivens play a fair bit as a member of the Maple Leafs, and I don’t see him being a consistent starting goalie for an NHL team. He can have periods of good, if not great, play, but that will be followed by an equal or worse period of ineptitude. Fasth is more of an unknown commodity, as he played behind a strong Ducks defense and after a stellar rookie season fell to 3rd or even 4th on the Ducks’ depth chart. He might be a Mikka Kiprusoff diamond in the rough. Or could he just be another flash in the pan that the Oilers took on the cheap with the hopes of turning that coal into diamond? However, its not like he was a 20 or even 22 year old rookie, he came to North America when he was almost 30.
The Oilers have been a lower tier team for years, and it is not all on the shoulders of the goaltenders who have manned the pipes in the past. However, they also haven’t been part of the solution, and part of the reason why the Oilers will be watching the playoffs for the 8th straight year rather than playing in them.