It’s time for the Edmonton Oilers to make a change behind Cam Talbot. After Thursday night’s crushing 6-5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the question that has been swirling around Oil Country – is Jonas Gustavsson good enough to be an NHL backup? In my honest opinion, no, I don’t think he has ever been good enough to play in the NHL/at this calibre and the numbers will back me on this.
(Rankings from 54 total goaltenders, having played 6 games or more)
Gustavsson has only started six games for the Oil this season. Right now he has a goals against average of 2.90 (40th) and a save percentage at .893 (49th). Let us also keep in mind he’s only faced 122 shots, which is only 20 shots per game (54th). The Oilers aren’t asking Gustavsson to come in and be unstoppable they just need him to be reliable. In my eyes, the Swede has not proven to be dependable so far this season. This has forced the Oilers to overplay Talbot.
Cam Talbot has played too much for the Oilers, however, he has proven to be a reliable netminder for them. Positively, the Oilers number one ranks in the top 10 NHL in both wins with 13 (3rd), shutouts with 3 (6th) and saves with 713 (1st). All three of those are solid stats to have as a number one goaltender in the NHL. Having said that, one could make the argument he only ranks high due to the number of games he’s played – 26 games thus far, which is the most by any NHL goaltender. I personally love Cam Talbot as a goaltender but he is not good enough to be played this much. As of right now, the 29-year-old ranks number one in loses (9), goals against (66) and shots against (779). These stats clearly show Talbot cannot do this alone and is in need of support to relieve some of the pressure. There is no doubt in saying the Oilers don’t have the best defense in the league, hence the shots against. If your team cannot rely on its defense then it is imperative that you have two good goalies, which is not the case for the Oilers.
The best move/decision for the Oilers right now is to call up goaltending prospect Laurent Brossoit from Bakersfield, where he has put together a successful season. Brossoit has six wins along with two shutouts and is tied for fifth in save percentage (0.927%). Bringing Broissoit up from the minors may prove to be a problem with the forthcoming Las Vegas expansion draft. If Brossoit comes up and continues his form for the Oilers there is a good chance that Vegas could select him in the expansion draft. The Golden Knights will more than likely be looking for a top goalie prospect. On the flip side, if Brossoit is taken by the Golden Knights that means that the Oilers get to keep Brandon Davidson or somebody else. It would suck to have to give up Brossoit, but I think it’s safe to say Oilers fans would rather keep Davidson. Apart from his good stats, the young netminder also has fan support on his side in Edmonton, Brossoit spent his junior career in Edmonton with the Oil Kings where he went on to win the Memorial Cup. Edmonton has a dedicated fan base who have been known to be critical of players in the past but given Brossoit’s history, they may be more lenient.
Right now the Oilers find themselves in a playoffs race, a position they haven’t been in for years. If they don’t sort out the backup situation right now these passionate Oilers fans will have to wait another year for the playoffs. The team plays three games next week which now gives them time to make some moves. The team is good compared to recent years they just need to have confidence in their netminder when Talbot isn’t playing and in/given their current situations, they most certainly don’t.