Among Oiler goalie prospects, not sucking is a sure sign of development.
There are times in life when you advance simply through the forces of attrition. As long as others are faltering more than you are, your position in the natural hierarchy will not be harmed. Welcome to the tale of our #19 ranked player in the Top 25 Under 25, Olivier Roy.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Alan ||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||JW||Michael||Ryan ||Scott|
Previous Rank: 18
Firstly, I'll restate that my rationale for ranking prospects is entirely based on what probability I interpret they have in playing NHL games at some point. My #14 ranking for Olivier is entirely based on my expectation that at some point in the next 4 years this player has a good shot of being entrusted with backup minutes at the NHL level.
Let's consider the situation. Unless Tambellini wants to double down on the worst value contract of his tenure, Nik Khabibulin will likely be let go at the end of this season. Yann Danis was named the top goaltender in the AHL last year, but has posted uninspiring numbers this year and is already 31 years old. These are the only two men on the depth chart that currently stand in the way between Olivier Roy and NHL games.
And what about the rest of his cohort? Jonathan Willis recently wrote a great piece looking at the other options in the Oilers' goaltending pipeline and came to the same conclusion I have: Roy is easily the best prospect they have. Niko Hovinen has bumped Roy back down to the ECHL at the moment, but is posting poor numbers (0.890 SV% through 4 games) and will likely be let go at season's end. The younger two Finnish goalies are both toiling away in Finland's second division with less than inspiring numbers. And Tyler Bunz... well, let's just say he's probably turned into an awkward topic of conversation at Oilers HQ.
So we've established that Roy is the best tending prospect the Oilers have and the Oilers will likely have a job opening at backup sometime in the near-to-medium term -- can the kid actually play?
His slight decline from #18 in the last rankings to #19 this time around is a fair reflection of Roy's year so far -- pretty middling. He's posted a 0.899 SV% in his 19 games in the AHL this year, good for 48th out of 52 qualifying goalies in that league. Not exactly inspiring, but his sensai Yann Danis isn't doing much better, posting a 0.902 (which is good for 43rd). The St. Louis Blues have used Jake Allen in the NHL this year and he's only putting up a 0.903 in the AHL (good for 42nd).
I think this is further proof that goalies are all kind of commoditized -- as long as you reach a certain established level you can get hot and cold within a certain range. Danis is AHL top goalie one year and near the bottom the next. Jake Allen lets in 1 less goal than Roy every 250 shots in the AHL and gets into NHL games. We are talking about very small margins here, especially since he's only played in 19 games!
Let's concentrate on the good. Last year he posted a 0.925 SV% in the ECHL over 40 starts, which was a fantastic showing (and better than the 0.921 Dubnyk put up in the same league). That is a commendable total for a goalie's first professional season, especially considering that it was much better than any SV% he ever posted in the QMJHL. Since he was sent down to Stockton just a few days ago, he's already won his first two starts while only letting in one goal with a 0.984 SV% (trust me, if you do the math that means one start was a shutout). It seems he has mastered Double A, which is more than the organization can say about Tyler Bunz, who's posting a 0.886 SV% this year on the same team.
He's got a fairly good pedigree -- he improved steadily throughout his junior career to the point where he had the 6th best SV% in the league during his 19 year old season at 0.911 (or 4th best among goalies with more than 30 starts). And yes, he kind of flamed out in the 2011 World Junior Championship, but his very inclusion on the team meant that he was perceived as being at least the 2nd best goalie in the country under the age of 20. You really can't luck your way into getting that post, especially considering Roy was a starting goaltender in junior for all of his 4 years there. Do I need to remind you that even Justin Pogge got a 7 game cup of coffee in the show?
Here's what Scott Reynolds had to say about Roy:
I think it's certainly reasonable to hold Roy's ECHL performance with a healthy degree of cynicism, as Scott has here. There are a lot of goalies who put up huge numbers down there with not much to show for it. But I would again point back to the specific opportunity Roy has in front of him in the next 2-3 years to gain an honest to goodness NHL job, considering the lack of internal options the Oilers have and the randomness of any 19 game mediocre stretch in the AHL (or any league for that matter).
Let's see how Roy closes this year out and what the Oilers do in the offseason regarding their other tenders. I would be surprised if Olivier wasn't made the Barons' starting goaltender next year and the first call-up option for the big team. He'll get a chance to get his feet wet in that role before ever being considered for a full-time back-up role.
What's that tired old line: success is when preparation meets opportunity? Olivier Roy has progressed decently throughout his career and will soon get the opportunity to prove he can be an NHL player. QMJHL cohorts Allen and Bernier are already getting that chance right now. Is is that hard to imagine a scenario where he gets his?