Following the Oilers spectacular 6-5 loss on Thursday night, much digital ink has been spilled about their backup goaltending. Jonas Gustavsson allowed six goals on 31 shots as the Oilers blew a pair of two-goal leads.
GM Peter Chiarelli signed Gustavsson on July 1 to a one-year, $800K contract to serve as backup to Cam Talbot. While Gustavsson is thought to be a good guy on the bench, his career numbers (0.902 SV%, 2.87 GAA) are well below league-average. His numbers through six appearances this season are even worse: his 0.893 SV% and 2.90 GAA rank fifth-last among goaltenders who have played at least six games. Gustavsson has just one win this year, back in early November in his first start with the club.
OilersNation writer Jonathan Willis wrote that the Oilers should quickly move on from Gustavsson, pointing out that “if he’d made one extra save last night—and given the number of bad goals he surrendered, it’s easy to imagine that… That would work out to [his career] save percentage of 0.902.”
Based on his usage of Talbot and Gustavsson, it’s clear that coach Todd McLellan has little faith in his backup. Talbot has played two more games than any other goalie in the NHL at 26. He’s on pace to start 71 games, which would be the highest since Braden Holtby started 73 back in 2014-15. Meanwhile Gustavsson has only started four games, all of which were part of back-to-back situations.
Willis wrote that the best defense of the signing was that the Oilers have faith in their minor league starter, Laurent Brossoit. Brossoit has progressed very well in his three seasons as their AHL starter. His save percentage has risen from 0.918 to 0.920 to a sparkling 0.927 this season. The only concern that the Oilers may have about Brossoit is the expansion draft. Because Brossoit is eligible to be selected, bringing him to the NHL and showing him off may prompt Vegas to pick him. However, this would mean the Oilers would be able to keep Brandon Davidson, the most likely player to be taken by the Golden Knights. As well, the Oilers have another AHL goalie, Nick Ellis, who has played very well in his eight games with a 0.931 SV% to take over the mantle in Bakersfield.
If not Brossoit, the Oilers could possibly take a look at Reto Berra, who’s buried behind Roberto Luongo and James Reimer in Florida, or even swap struggling backups with Leafs and see if a change of scenery helps Jhonas Enroth.