The Oil Kings currently have three goaltenders listed. As the deadline to submit a finalized roster to the WHL approaches, the Oil Kings will need to select two of their current goaltenders for the 2017-2018 season, barring any surprises from the Oil Kings management team.
Travis Child, Josh Dechaine, and Boston Bilious have each spent some time between the pipes and on the bench so far this season. The fact the Oil Kings have utilized all three goaltenders makes it more difficult to speculate on which goaltender will be reassigned. Though the team has struggled at the start of the season, the majority of the season remains in front of them and the Oil Kings must attempt to capitalize on their opportunities. Their choice in goaltenders could help them better their record.
Travis Child has had the majority of the starts so far this season. With starts in five of this season’s seven games, Child appears to be the Oil Kings choice to be the starting goalie. While Child’s numbers don’t inspire confidence, the Oil Kings appear content to let him settle into his new team and see what happens. Child currently has a 0.833 save percentage and a 5.31 goals against average. Neither of those numbers are exactly what the Oil Kings must have been expecting to see when they acquired Child this offseason.
Trading for Child was a risk for the Oil Kings. Child has never been in a starting role during his time with Swift Current and Brandon. Numbers such as Child has had to start the season seem to indicate why Child was consigned to a back up role. He may not be reliable when play every night or under the pressure of being a starting goaltender.
Josh Dechaine joined the teams in the middle of the 2016-2017 season as a replacement for the injured Liam Hughes. Dechaine backed up Patrick Dea while starting in a total of 17 games last season. Dechaines role with the Oil Kings has been limited up until this point, but he has sat on the bench and had a single start this season. In his single start, he had the best outing of any Oil Kings goalie. His current 0.957 save percentage and 1.00 goals against average are quite different from Travis Child’s. Comparing Dechaine’s statistics to any single game of Child’s, the numbers are considerably better. Child’s best numbers are a 0.875 save percentage an 3.00 goals against average in any one game. Based solely on statistics from their performances so far, Dechaine would be the starter for the Oil Kings not Child. That is not how the season as played out so far. Dechaine has split back up duties with Bilious and played a limited role for the Oil Kings.
Finally, there is Boston Bilious. Bilious is the youngest of the Oil Kings three choices. Bilious is only 16 years old and has plenty of time to develop as a goaltender. In fact, it might be better for Bilious to be reassigned to the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds where he will see more consistent play.
Bilious has only played two games this year, one as starter and one in relief of Travis Child. In those two games, he has two loses, a 0.824 save percentage, and a 3.00 goals against average. Not fantastic numbers, but not unexpected considering that he’s a young goaltender adjusting the faster pace of the WHL game.
Of their three potential choices, Bilious is the best choice to reassign in the short term. However, in the long term, the Oil Kings limit the experience that their goaltenders will have in future seasons. The normal WHL development path is for a goaltender to serve as a back up for a time when they join the WHL. There is a chance that Bilious may be the Oil Kings starting goaltender next season; Dechaine has been a steady back up but it would be another calculated risk to have a 20-year-old goaltender who has never started outside of a year designated for rebuilding. In that case, Bilious having more experience would serve better in the long term.
If the Oil Kings keep Bilious, they’d need to release one of their two goaltenders with WHL experience. Since the organization appears to have chosen Child to be a major piece of their rebuilding year when they named him part of their leadership group, it would likely be Dechaine released. From that point, the Oil Kings would ice a combination of Child and Bilious. Unfortunately, that combination of goaltenders has lost five out of the six games they have played and have the worst statistics of any possible combination. The Oil Kings, a team struggling through a rebuild, can hardly afford to have an unreliable netminder.
The Oil Kings will have to make a decision shortly answering the question of which goalies they intend to play in the upcoming season.