Since last we convened to evaluate the Oilers prospects, a great deal has changed at the top of the goaltending depth chart of the organization, but the players working their way through the system have basically been treading water or slowly drowning during that period. For Olivier Roy, the most advanced of the team's young netminders, treading water will no longer be good enough if he hopes to find his way to the NHL in an Oilers' uniform.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Alan ||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||JW||Michael||Ryan||Scott|
For the sake of comparison, let's map Olivier Roy's career path against that of Devan Dubnyk, the last Oiler drafted goalie to work his way through the system to the NHL. It is commonly said around C&B that the development path of a goalie is borderline witchcraft and is incredibly unpredictable. Therefore there are no certainties in either a positive or negative assessment of Roy's potential...but Dubnyk's career path was not exactly a yellow brick road that led straight to the NHL, so, if heading into his third professional season, Roy is still significantly behind Dubnyk, it might give us an idea of where to set our expectations.
There's no doubt that Dubnyk came with a higher pedigree, being a first round pick as compared to a fifth round selection in the case of Roy. (It should be noted though that Roy fell on draft day and was expected to be taken earlier.) Still, Dubnyk faced far greater challenges than Roy on his way through the system to emerge as the team's #1 netminder. Is Roy on a pace to have a shot at reaching that same status?
Both players faced a lockout in the first few years following being drafted by the Oilers. Luckily for Dubnyk, he was still in Junior at the time, and therefore the lockout had little to do with his development. Roy had to deal with last season's lockout as a pro, and while his playing time at the AHL level wasn't affected by an NHL goalie coming down and taking his minutes, he did likely face an above average level of opposition during the first half of his rookie AHL season.
Dubnyk played two full seasons in the WHL after being drafted before turning pro. However, upon reaching the pro level, he was faced with being part of a franchise that lacked their own AHL affiliate. This probably didn't hurt too greatly right away as he spent virtually a full season splitting duty as a semi-starter in Stockton of the ECHL. The following season though, when the Oilers finally arranged to have their own AHL farm team, Dubnyk was faced with his development catching up to Jeff Drouin-Delauriers, who had suffered by the lack of a dedicated farm team the previous year. Dubnyk managed to get into 33 games as an AHL rookie before being the full-time starter in his second AHL season. The year after that he split his 52 games between the AHL and NHL (33 and 19 games respectively) before landing a full time NHL spot in 2010/11, or what would be his draft +6 season.
I don't think anyone would say that Dubnyk got to the NHL in an overly swift amount of time, so it's fairly reasonable to think that a goalie with serious NHL aspirations and potential may be able to at least come close to matching this progression. So, how does Olivier Roy compare so far?
Roy also played two additional seasons in junior following his draft year, though he played in the QMJHL. He was also able to play 3 games in the AHL after his season in the Q had ended in his draft+1 year. During those seasons, his save percentage was slightly behind DD, but never more than .004%, so nothing too alarming. After finishing his junior career, he played his rookie pro season in Stockton just as Dubnyk had, and there, he excelled, posting a .925 Sv%, four points better than Dubnyk's .921 for the same season in his development.
It's in each player's Draft+4 seasons that the two started to diverge onto different paths. As stated, in his +4 season, battling another prospect for AHL starts, Dubnyk earned the chance to play in 33 games and posted a .904 save%. Not exactly an impossibly high bar for Roy to measure up to. But this season, Roy only played in 22 AHL games behind a starter that quite clearly was not part of the team's long-term plans, with many of those coming while Yann Danis was called-up to the NHL as an injury replacement. The team eventually signed Niko Hoivinen to allow them to push Roy back down to the ECHL. A bad sign for Roy (and an even worse one for ECHL starter Tyler Bunz). Roy once again played well in Stockton, but at this stage in his career, this was the equivalent of asking Dubnyk to play the season in OKC. Playing well in Stockton is no longer impressive for Roy, it's an expectation. Overall, playing a signficant amount of time in Stockton in his second pro season has to be seen as a setback.
So, with this coming season serving as Roy's Draft+5 year, for him to be on even ground with Dubnyk's slow progression to the NHL, he would need to be coming into the season as the clear starter in OKC. Given that the team has signed Richard Bachman to fulfill that role, it's safe to say that this is unlikely to be the case. Furthermore, in an off-season interview, Oiler GM Craig MacTavish referred to Roy and Bunz as the team's "ECHL goaltenders", which could indicate that either the Oilers will sign an additional netminder, or that the Barons may bring in another goalie on an AHL-only contract. If Roy is once again playing in the ECHL five years removed from being drafted, we will start seeing a clear direction as to his progression (or lack thereof) as a prospect. If he manages to play the full season in Oklahoma City and is able to post numbers that compare favourably to Bachman, then the door is still somewhat open for him to keep climbing the ladder towards the main roster. Anything less than that this year, and you have to wonder if the team will re-sign him when his contract runs out at season's end.
It's show or go time for Olivier Roy this season. By the time we examine the prospects again this winter, we'll have a decent idea as to his future, and by next off-season, I suspect he'll either inch his way back up this list a bit, or be gone from the organization entirely.
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