Oilers: Net Pain, Net Gain—Goalie Picture Comes into Focus
Photo credit: Shaughn Butts, Edmonton Journal
Nothing appears to be Garon-teed in the Oilers net right now, but the stellar play of rookie goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers means one of the team's three goaltenders could be rolling out of town soon.
Drouin-Deslauriers—or JDD to the spelling impaired—has played brilliantly this season and back-to-back wins against New Jersey and the Rangers have provided job security for the 24-year-old Quebec netminder.
What exactly that job will be is unclear at this point, but he has done enough to at least grab hold of the backup role.
Statistically, JDD is tops on the Oilers right now. He's posted a 1.71 goals against average and a save percentage of .951, while going undefeated in his three starts.
Head coach Craig MacTavish is likely to start Drouin-Deslauriers as long as he keeps winning and, if he continues to impress, he has a chance of becoming the team's No. 1 cage-keeper.
A more likely scenario, however, is that Edmonton's second-round choice in 2002 will see his GAA rise and his SV percentage drop.
When his numbers do come back down to Earth, Mathieu Garon will be given every opportunity to return to the outstanding form that earned him the No. 1 job last season.
After a hot start, during which he won three straight, Garon has struggled lately (3.67 GAA, .881 SV percentage).
But, even though 2006 playoff hero Dwayne Roloson has looked good this season (2-2, 2.78 GAA, .915 SV percentage), Roli doesn't have much of a future with the club, unless it's in a front office capacity.
The 39-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and the Oilers are very unlikely to re-sign him.
Add to that Roloson's $3.5 million salary and it makes more sense for Edmonton to move him, instead of the other two heads on the three-headed goalie monster.
Garon may continue to struggle, but JDD has shown enough to indicate he'll be able to weather the storm for the Oilers. That means it will be out with the old and in with the new for the Oilers crease-dwellers.
This appeared to be the plan prior to the season, when Edmonton inked Drouin-Deslauriers to a one-way contract. Despite Garon's woes, the plan to implement the French Rejection seems to remain in place.
The tough task for the Oilers now will be to move Roloson. The injury to New Jersey's Martin Brodeur may make this easier, but the Devils will try to hold off on making a trade for as long as possible, so GM Lou Lamoriello can deal from a position of strength.
The Oilers, however, would rather make a trade sooner rather than later to free up a roster spot and rid themselves of the crowded-crease scenario.
Roloson's trade value will likely increase as the deadline nears, but don't expect Edmonton to wait that long. They won't get too much for him, but expect Roli to be gift-wrapped and shipped out by Christmas.
Editor's Note: If Garon's play does not improve over the long-haul, and JDD can't carry the load, expect the Oilers to make a move for Kari Lehtonen in Atlanta. The Thrashers have plenty of goalies in the system and Lehtonen's injury woes have made him expendable.
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