While the vast majority of Oilers Nation appeared to be more than comfortable with anointing Laurent Brossoit as the goalie of the future for the Edmonton Oilers after just two NHL appearances, the chances of that actually occurring were never a sure thing and his last two starts are perfect examples as to why that is. As good as he looked during his final two seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings and stretches in the AHL, the shortcomings in his game have always been there for anyone wanting to pay attention.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 14, 2016
The soon-to-be 23-year old has always struggled with handling high shots, something which was painfully obvious during last night’s 3-2 loss to James Neal and the Nashville Predators, as well as his rebound control, positioning and occasionally allowing weak goals against at the worst possible moment. To his credit, the Port Alberni native has made strides in certain aspects of his game since being acquired from the Calgary Flames in a deal for defenceman Ladislav Smid back in November 2013 but he still has a ways to go before becoming a sure-thing at this level.
We Should Expect More Gowing Pains
With a grand total of 91 games under his belt during what has been roughly two seasons worth of AHL experience, it is not as though we are talking about a kid who has hit it out of the park with the Oklahoma City Barons or Bakersfield Condors. Brossoit’s stat line has been solid over the last two years (2.61 GAA and .919 SV%) but by no means are they the eye-popping sort of the numbers Petr Mrazek posted during his final season and bit with the Grand Rapids Griffins (2.09GAA and .925SV%) before becoming a regular with the Detroit Red Wings in 2014-15.
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By no means is that to suggest Brossoit has been some sort of bust but rather that expectations should be tempered. As good as he looked in those first two starts against the San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets, the former sixth-round pick was equally poor against the Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets. There is no question that he is a far more positionally sound netminder in the here and now compared to his time with the Oil Kings and the same can be said with regards to his ability to control rebounds. Unfortunately, the other two issue remain and neither one is an easy fix for a player this far into his career.
I'm no goalie coach. But both shots that alluded Brossoit high glove hand last night came when the kid was on his knees. #Oilers
— Kurt Leavins (@KurtLeavins) March 15, 2016
Like many of today’s goaltenders, Brossoit style is one of a shot blocker and not a shot stopper and while his enormous looking chest protector helps the youngster plug many an opening from in tight, his style of dropping to his knees and hoping the puck hits him doesn’t work quite so well against NHL quality shooters. Again, while he doesn’t get caught out of position as much as he did during his days in the WHL, Brossoit’s ability to cut down angles at this level remains a concern as does his sub-par glove hand.
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In his defence, the Edmonton Oilers are far from a juggernaut in their own end of the rink but that is the reality of the situation for anyone who plays goal for this team. With that said, by no means is this to suggest that Laurent Brossoit’s last two outings show him to be incapable of developing into a solid NHL goalie, as that would be a ridiculous assumption to make. However, what these games have done is put a further spotlight on what his actual weaknesses are and now it is up to the player to make an adjustment or this won’t end up going in the direction so many fans were hoping.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.