David LeNeveu in all his Bluejacket helmeted glory. Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.
It was feast or famine in net for the Barons last season. We came to expect great things from Martin Gerber. He was the veteran who not only proved worthy of a contract in the AHL, but also with the Oilers when called upon. His calm, cool, and collected demeanor was just what both teams needed. Then there was Jeff Deslauriers. Deslauriers struggled greatly, but showed promise. As the season long grind wore on, he got better, then got worse, then got better. His inconsistencies in consecutive seasons exposed his decreasing value as a prospect.
A new season, a new set of goaltenders is upon us. David LeNeveu, the Cornell graduate who toppled Ken Dryden's shutout record in 2003, has only spent time with the same team in consecutive seasons once. He's a 6'1" lightweight goalie who most recently played for Springfield/Columbus where he had JDD-like numbers. Yann Danis, the Brown grad who's only two years older than LeNeveu, hasn't had friendly numbers of late either. However, Danis brings a more potent NHL track record and hopefully the experience that young AHL teams need desperately. In addition, Danis migth be a viable option for injury related call-ups to Edmonton.
Now that we know our goalies for the 2011-12 season, how will they stack when when compared to the Gerber-Deslauriers tandem?
The roundtable today consists of Patricia, who's contributions to the blogging world at Artfulpuck are always entertaining; Scott, purveyor of the great minor league Oilers site OilFieldHockey.com; season ticket holder, photographer, and Barons chronicler, Candace who posts at A New Ice Age; Evan, the featured prospect writer for the notorious OilersJambalaya; Avid hockey fan, and Star Wars lover Jonathan; and, of course, your two lovable Copper & Blue writers, Neal and Eric.
Patricia: Yann Danis has been doing very well in the Oilers preseason camp and games and I expect him to continue to do well here in OKC. I would not be surprised to see Danis in Edmonton more frequently - more than Gerber was allowed last season - since the Oilers must step away from their attachment to Khabibulan and allow Dubnyk and Danis to start more games this season.
What I have seen so far of David LeNeveu in the Barons training camp has impressed me - his mobility, stance and quick response - so I am very positive about his arrival in Oklahoma City. (Plus, LeNeveu seems like such a nice guy - how can you not cheer for him to do his best!) Also, Olivier Roy has been very impressive at the OKC Barons training camp and I look forward to seeing both of these goaltenders in much more intensive situations.
I have to be honest - I enjoyed watching Martin Gerber and Jeff Deslauriers. Yes, yes, I've heard it all, and I've seen the stats. Sometimes players do not do well with a particular organization and, for whatever reasons, I think both had a hard time with the Oilers and the Barons. It is a pleasure to see Deslauriers making such a good impression in Anaheim so far in this preseason.
Why does goaltending seem to be the Oilers Achilles' heel?
Scott: I do expect them to play better, because they both are playing for jobs next season. And there is no worry on who's going to get called up to Edmonton this season.
Candance: Short answer, no. Explanation, as follows: While Gerber & Deslauriers each hit a slow point at some time last season, they also had the NHL & veteran experience to pull themselves through more often than not. When Gerber was called up, Deslauriers knew he had to be a rock to get the team through. The same went for Gerber, when Deslauriers would struggle.
While LeNeveu & Danis are - in my opinion - good, serviceable, and young goaltenders (and I am a HUGE LeNeveu fan), if they were *that* good, I feel they'd have a spot as an NHL backup. I just don't see the same base talent level between this pair as last year's. I'm not above hoping though, so I'm doing just that, that either one can come out as an under-the-radar surprise, or that they can find a tandem rhythm and play off each other's strengths & weaknesses. I'm hoping for a pleasant surprise out of them.
Evan: As a tandem, yes! Gerber was a top end AHL Goalie but Danis will be close. LeNeveu's experience will at least equal stability. You get what you see, it's not a mystery. Together they should work well. I think the level will drop down a notch but because the defence will be more solid this year with good puck movers and solid d men, the goalies won't be required to have as many difficult saves. Play good positional and they should be a top 15 tandom in the league.
Jonathan: I'm nervous most about goal tending this year. Oklahomans were harsh to our goalies last year when things got rough but we had great caliber goaltending. This year the quality goes down and it will be hard to trust the last line of defense. They may surprise me, but I'm definitely nervous about it.
Eric: Better? No. I would say about the same, really. Danis will be a great goaltender, and end the season with better stats than Gerber, but I don't think LeNeveu will be better than Deslauriers was. It'll be interesting to see how the starts are distributed this season however, as the Barons won't be obligated to give two NHL-contracted players a somewhat even amount of starts. Where I do think the goaltending will be better than last season, is if Danis is called up. I like their chances with Roy/LeNeveu a lot better than they had with Pitton/Deslauriers.
Neal: I think that the only noticeable difference over last season will be the outlook for both Barons goaltenders. With Gerber and Deslauriers it felt like prospect vs. veteran. And indeed that's what we got. A guy who fumbled and a guy that was steadier. LeNeveu and Danis have what I'd consider lengthy careers for goaltenders, and journeyman like qualities that are championed in the American League. Will they be better? I'd surmise their numbers will be slightly better, but with so many "still developing" defensemen in front of them, I'm anxious to see how they fare.
Join us tomorrow as the roundtablers discuss whom they are most excited to see play in Oklahoma City this season?