Myth busting-Goalie Coach Edition

Apr 16, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) makes a save during warmup against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 16, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) makes a save during warmup against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /
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People who spread ignorance over the internet are truly human garbage. Regardless of the topic, it can be incredibly self destructive to society. Hockey is no different. There’s been a narrative off and on for years that Oilers goalie coach Dustin Schwartz is a bad goalie coach, because the Oilers have typically been unable to develop a goalie in their own system.

But there are a lot of red flags that this is misinformation.

First of all, it completely ignores the franchise’s drafting record when it comes to goalies, which is basically next to non-existent and quite horrendous.

Historically, the Oilers scouting department in general has been rather terrible for most of the franchise’s existence. Scouting wasn’t much of a priority for the Oilers until Peter Chiarelli became GM and did a housecleaning of the scouting staff, and then Ken Holland brought some of his own people in when he became GM. The thinking behind that was GM of the day Glen Sather could trade or sign anyone for any holes in the lineup so they weren’t worried about the drafting.

I could probably write a series of blogs profiling the Oilers failed draft picks, especially the first round picks, but for the purposes of this blog let’s concentrate on the goaltenders.

It started out well enough when the franchise came into the NHL from the WHA as the Oilers drafted Andy Moog in the seventh (!) round of the 1980 draft – quite a steal. He would go on to play 713 career NHL games – 235 with the Oilers, being part of winning their first three cups in ’84, ’85, and ’87 before being traded to Boston for Bill Ranford in the 1987 offseason. Fun fact – he was the starter in net for the Bruins when they beat them in the Cup finals in 1990 and was also the starter in net when the Oilers upset the Dallas Stars in 1997 in the first round.

Then the next year the Oilers hit on another one, drafting Grant Fuhr eighth overall in the 1981 draft. He would go on to play 867 games in the NHL, 423 of those with the Oilers, before being dealt away in a blockbuster trade to Toronto with Glenn Anderson in the 1991 offseason after Sather was forced to dismantle the 80s dynasty team. You might know him as one of the core pieces of the 80s teams who was present for all of their Cup wins and the starter for all of them except the 1990 one.

The problem was, that was literally it until Devan Dubnyk was drafted in 2004 in the first round. He would go on to be dealt away to Nashville at the 2014 trade deadline. The 35 year old is technically still active but at his age having spent the entirety of last season in the AHL (for a whopping four games, I may add) he’s bound to retire any day now. His current tally is at 542 NHL games, 171 with the Oilers.

That’s it for goaltenders who were drafted by the Oilers and have covered the bet on their positions (aka played at least 200 NHL games). If Stuart Skinner makes the team for good as expected next training camp he’ll be fourth on the list. After that, it goes to “stalwarts” like Jussi Markanen, whose career only lasted 128 games. The fact that he’s even in the top five of all time goalie draft picks for this team is depressing and embarrassing.

Every other goalie the Oilers drafted in the interim either never made it to the NHL or flamed out quickly. Any goalie worth his salt tending the nets for us during that time were either acquired by trade or signed as free agents from outside the organization.

So this begs the question – how is Schwartz supposed to develop goaltenders when he wasn’t dealt a good hand in the first place? That’s like hiring somebody to be an investment banker, then not giving him any money to build a portfolio and then chiding him for not making money on the investments.

Doesn’t make sense, does it? If Schwartz had quality goalies who all had major success in other franchises then you might have a point about him being a bad goalie coach. But the fact that Skinner looks poised to make the NHL next season, coupled with other factors that I’ll cover soon enough, means that the blame doesn’t rest with the coach, the blame rests with the scouting department. Let’s get into other reasons why the blame doesn’t rest on Schwartz.