by Lisa McRitchie on 12/17/13 at 10:30 AM ET
The Edmonton Oilers have had their share of issues this year. They couldn’t get a win, they couldn’t score goals, they couldn’t stay healthy, and most importantly, they had some terrible stretches of goaltending. GM Craig MacTavish set out during the off-season to acquire a backup goaltender, thinking that was all that his team would need. Devan Dubnyk had been showing signs of promise despite bad stretches or bad goals now and then. It was believed that Dubnyk would be the goaltender going forward, that he was going to prove himself this year. He has proved himself to this point, but as a backup goaltender.
Devan Dubnyk with a save against the Calgary Flames
Jason LaBarbera also struggled in net the for Oilers, and while Richard Bachman excited in his last game, an injury prevented Bachman from being the solution, at least at that point in time. And so, as we know, the Oilers signed free agent Ilya Bryzgolof. Who also sustained an injury, keeping him out of the line-up until Sunday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Things just aren’t going the Oilers way this season; in fact the team looks in some ways worse than ever.
And so, callers into local radio stations have been calling for the “kids in the system” to get a chance to play, but what most don’t seem to realize is that there is no one in the waiter. The Oilers traded off Olivier Roy, the player who had seen the most AHL time. Now, the team is left with Tyler Bunz who struggled in his first pro season last year posting a save percentage of 0.886 with the Stockton Thunder, but hasn’t had a much better season this year with the Bakersfield Condors, sitting at 0.873 after 6 games.
Tyler Bunz closes up the five hole as a Medicine Hat Tiger against the Calgary Hitmen
Bunz’s 4 games in the AHL have gone much better, where he tallied an assist, had a GAA of 3.15 and a save percentage of 0.914.
This isn’t saying that Bunz can’t be the guy, just that he needs a lot more time before he is called up to the NHL and given a chance. Some goalies don’t find their stride for years, and it’s difficult to know just how many years. Bunz shouldn’t be written off yet, but he can’t be put in against the likes of the Chicago Blackhawks, or the LA Kings this season.
Frans Tuohimaa, the Finnish goaltender drafted in 2011 in the 7th round did well enough last year, but played only 13 game with Jokerit going 5-2-6 with a GAA of 2.29 and a SV% of 0.912. He also played 16 games with Kiekko-Vantaa and earning a save percentage of 0.915. This year, he is on loan to HPK and has played 13 games and has a SV% of 0.894. This is of course not many games not enough to get a good feel for how he is progressing.
The Oilers of course also have the former Oil King Laurent Brossoit in the system, and although he is a year younger than Bunz, he has already played 7 games with the OKC Barons this season, and 2 games with the Abbotsford Heat while still a Flames prospect.
Broissoit may leapfrog over Bunz, but there are never any guarantees in life, and Broissoit is not yet ready for regular action in the NHL. Perhaps soon, but the team would be better off allowing Brossoit to become comfortable in the AHL before stepping up the competition.
Trading Jason Labarbera over the weekend to the Blackhawks, MacT is down to 48 contracts and we can only hope that he is now diligently looking for another trade. The team has the roster space, the cap space and of course a few other players that could be traded, although now may not be the time to move a few moveable pieces as their trade value must appear quite low right now.
That doesn't mean that we can't hope that MacT can trade off magic beans and help the team get better not for just now, but years to come.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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