When it comes to up and coming prospects currently in the Edmonton Oilers farm system, few appear to have this fan base as excited as netminder Laurent Brossoit. While the organization has been looking for a No. 1 goaltender since parting ways with Dwayne Roloson following the 2008-09 campaign, they have yet to hit the jackpot when it comes to finding their go-to-guy in between the pipes.
Many a failed experiment during the previous six seasons has seen the likes of Mathieu Garon, Nikolai Khabibulin, Devan Dubnyk, Ilya Bryzgalov, Viktor Fasth and Ben Scrivens all leave town as disappointments but the hope was for one or both of Cam Talbot and Anders Nilsson to seize the moment and run with the opportunity they were presented with heading into 2015-16. That has yet to happen and because of it some are starting to wonder out aloud if Brossoit should be given a shot to prove his worth at the NHL level in the here and now.
— The Hockey Writers (@TheHockeyWriter) November 25, 2015
After reading yesterday’s piece from fellow Oilers’ contributor Brett Slawson here at The Hockey Writers, it appears as though that mindset is starting to gain some traction. While the masses seem ready to throw Talbot to the curb and are far from sold on the idea of Nilsson being their man, the thought of bringing a 22-year old kid into this situation is frankly terrifying. There is no question Brossoit has been very good for the Bakersfield Condors, but there is an awfully big difference between pulling that off in the AHL compared to the NHL.
Brossoit Has the Tools But Needs Time
From a statistical standpoint, it is impossible to be anything other than thoroughly impressed with what the former Edmonton Oil Kings standout has been able to accomplish since joining the organization as the centrepiece of a trade with the Calgary Flames for defenceman Ladislav Smid back in November of 2013. While his development has been steady, Brossoit has yet to show the ability to the carry the load on a consistent basis for an entire season and until he does that, the thought of seeing him in Edmonton should be nothing more than that.
He was fantastic during his NHL debut against the San Jose Sharks in early April, stopping 49 of the 51 pucks Joe Thornton and company fired his way in what turned out to ultimately be a 3-1 loss, but we are talking about one game here. Also, let’s not forget that as well as he played on that evening, the kid was spilling rebounds all over the ice but still found a way to keep the puck out of his net on sheer athleticism and dumb luck for much of the night. That can work in the short-term but not over the long haul and that is all that matters.
Brossoit tends to have problems with high shots, be it to the glove or blocker sides, and as previously mentioned, his rebound control can sometimes be a detriment to his overall game. With that said, it sounds as though the latter has been far less of an issue over his 11 starts this season and that is certainly a step in the right direction. However, that does not simply erase his previous struggles and instantly make him ready for “prime time”. There is still a ton of work to be done, so why rush him to NHL for the sake doing so?
Talbot and Nilsson Were Brought In For Reason
Outside of one of Talbot or Nilsson suffering a major injury, there would be absolutely no reason for Brossoit to receive anything other than a late season call-up to get a couple of starts to close out his year. The Oilers goaltending has been nowhere near good enough over the opening seven weeks of their schedule, but 21 games doesn’t make a season. The whole purpose of going out and acquiring the guys they did was to see if one or both could be a stop-gap solution to use as a bridge and allow the native of Surrey, B.C. time to develop into that so-called “can’t miss” prospect.
[Related Article: Anders Nilsson and Seizing an Opportunity]
So while some may be ready to hand over the keys to the car to Laurent Brossoit, overvaluing what he has been able to accomplish to this point in his pro career would be both a mistake and so typical for fans of the Orange and Blue. The AHL has always been littered with guys who have been stellar at that level but never found the way to make the jump to the NHL. Just take a look at the current goaltending leaders and you will see a mishmash of young talent and journeymen. Reading too much into minor league stats is never a good idea and typically leads to organization’s making mistakes.
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.