Many would say Dwayne Roloson, hands down, but I'm going to argue for Mathieu Garon.
Although Roloson ed the Oilers to the Stanley Cup final not too long ago and put up great numbers with Minnesota for years before that, he hasn't been in his best form at all this season! Mind you, the Oilers are in complete rebuild mode with less total NHL experience then a goalie would like.
I however, have a no excuses mentality, especially in this case, as the Oilers need him more than they did when fighting for the Cup.
Rolly has put up a sub-.900 save percentage and a 3.14 GAA so far this season—nothing to write home about. In comparison to other NHL goalies this season, he would be ranked around 33rd overal. There are back-up goaltenders who are putting up better numbers and one of them just so happens to be his own.
Garon has more wins (despite playing less games), a GAA that is .7 points lower than Roloson's, and a save percentage ranked 11th in the league this season. His performance last night against Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks proves my point that he can steal the win for the Oilers when he's in the zone.
And I do mean steal—in a 0-0 draw against Vancouver going into the shootout, Garon stopped every Canuck player he faced. He even managed to pull off a Johnny Bower-esque poke check against Morrison. He outlasted Luongo (who faced only 10 shots in 65 minutes of play) to get the shutout and the win for the Oilers, who really shouldn't have won.
How many times does a team with just ten shots win the game?
Garon is no stranger to being number one goaltender on a team that isn't so good. He was the starter for a lackluster Kings team in 2005-06 and even managed to put up better numbers the following season with the same franchise.
So why isn't he a starting goaltender in the NHL?
I believe it is a case of numbers—30 teams equals 30 starting goalies. There is only room for a starter and a backup goalie in the NHL—60 jobs compared to 360 for forwards and 180 for d-men.
You also have to consider the whole "Why would I pay multi-million dollars for a guy to ride the pine?" argument. The Oilers owe a lot to Roloson for bringing them back to point in the playoffs, something they hadn't seen since Messier hoisted the cup in 1990. Plus he isn't that bad, but at 38 it may be time to hang up the skates and take a position in the front office—maybe not right now or even next year, but everyone retires sometime. (Don't tell Chelios I said that!)
Despite that, I still think Garon should be the Oilers' number one goaltender. He and Roloson can split the rest of the season, but come next season the reigns should be given to Garon. He is a solid goalie who chose to sign with the Oilers over other teams that offered him more money—time to take advantage of that!
Side Note: That first-round pick from the Oilers was later traded to Los Angeles along with Patrick O'Sullivan for Pavol Demitra. So basically it was Roloson for Demitra if you want to put it bluntly. The big winner of it all? Los Angeles! Why? The Kings dumped Demitra for two excellent prospects who are developing nicely for the Kings already. In five seasons Roloson and Demitra will be forgotten and O'Sullivan and Trevor Lewis will be on everyone's mind.
Second Side Note: Ok, so this one is personal. Everyone doubted Roloson's worth as a first round pick, but I said he was a solid goalie who could bring the Oilers to a place they haven't been for a long time. They went to the Stanley Cup final—I was just talking about the semi-final round myself, but I will take credit for it! I do have witnesses to this effect as well.
Last Side Note: Roloson was move because Fernandez had a break-out season and the emergence of Josh Harding squeezed him out to the Oilers. A couple seasons later and Fernandez is gone to Boston where he lost his starting goaltender role to Tim Thomas. Josh Harding is now back-up to Nicolas Backstrom. Funny how the NHL works these days!
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