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In Defense Of Jeff Deslauriers As An NHL Goaltender

Ever since the Khabibulin signing, I've been stuck on goaltenders.  I've got a bunch of ideas floating in my head about how G.M.'s should look at them and what their value is (more on that in a future post) and there's been some simply incredible work done on them in the past few weeks (notably Vic's shot quality post and the stuff Tyler Dellow's been doing).

In any case, one of the things that I'm 100% sure of is that it makes no sense to develop a goaltender with a career ceiling any lower than #1 with a bullet.  1A goalies and backups are always available (have been since the lockout, at least) via free agency or trade or by pillaging European teams.  So don't take this as a defense of the Oilers' decision to risk games developing Jeff Deslauriers.  Given the market and Nikolai Khabibulin's health, don't take this as an endorsement of Deslauriers as the Oilers' backup goaltender either.

With all of that said, I think Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers is an OK option for the #2 spot on an NHL team, at least based on his work last year.

Maybe I'm damning with faint praise in the above statement, but it's worth noting that Deslauriers actually did a relatively good job of keeping his head above water; his overall SV% isn't too flattering but his even-strength save percentage is a little better.

What follows is a list of goaltenders who played between 10 and 35 games (other than obviously injured starters like Martin Brodeur) ranked by even-strength save-percentage:

  1. Kevin Weekes: .935
  2. Josh Harding: .931
  3. Craig Anderson: .928
  4. Manny Fernandez: .928
  5. Antero Niittymaki: .927 SV%
  6. Mikael Tellqvist: .926 SV%
  7. Brian Boucher: .925 SV%
  8. Yann Danis: .923 SV%
  9. Brent Johnson: .923 SV%
  10. Jaroslav Halak: .922 SV%
  11. Brian Elliott: .920 SV%
  12. Curtis Sanford: .920 SV%
  13. Dan Ellis: .919 SV%
  14. Mathieu Garon: .918 SV%
  15. Michael Leighton: .915 SV%
  16. Stephen Valiquette: .913 SV%
  17. Jason LaBarbera: .912 SV%
  18. Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers: .912 SV%
  19. Mike McKenna: .909 SV%
  20. Johan Hedberg: .908 SV%
  21. Martin Gerber: .908 SV%
  22. Dany Sabourin: .907 SV%
  23. Karri Ramo: .906 SV%
  24. Andrew Raycroft: .905 SV%
  25. Ondrej Pavelec: .898 SV%
  26. Patrick Lalime: .897 SV%
  27. Curtis McElhinney: .897 SV%
  28. Manny Legace: .893 SV%
  29. Curtis Joseph: .892 SV%
  30. Tobias Stephan: .890 SV%
  31. Pascal Leclaire: .873 SV%

Now, that's not exactly a who's-who of the NHL's best goaltenders sitting around Deslauriers, but he did't stink up the joint either (and frankly, because of the time off I think it's very difficult to get a read on a backup, and JDD had it worse than most).

The other thing that I absolutely have to point out is that the goaltender who Scott Howson moved for Antoine Vermette last season (and who Pierre McGuire called "the best goaltender Ottawa (sidenote: other Senators goaltenders include Ron Tugnutt, Tom Barrasso and Dominik Hasek) has ever had") was the worst goaltender in the NHL last year by this measure.