Thoughts on the Oilers: Goalies, Player Development and Prospects

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Ty Conklin

Great to see Devan Dubnyk have such a great bounce back season. Beating the Oilers must have felt pretty awesome for him (100 times), but he also had  a pretty solid performance against the Predators last night, another team where things went from bad to worse for him. I know a lot is being said about Sean Burke’s impact on him in Arizona. I’m just curious as to why Burke isn’t having the same impact on Mike Smith, who has been struggling all season.

Worth noting that in the 2013 off season, Dubnyk had to make changes to his game because of new rule changes impacting goalie stick lengths. This story gets a little lost since it’s safe to assume that professional athletes should be able to adjust to rules. But stick length, especially for taller goalies, can have a major impact on the goalie’s posture.

Two inches may not seem like much, but goaltenders grip their stick where the shaft intersects the thicker paddle, so changing that point relative to the ice can force an altered stance or blocker position, opening up holes on the blocker side arm, and even causing balance issues in the crease. [In Goal Magazine]

The full article from that summer on how the changes impacted Dubnyk, Eddie Lack and Robin Lehner is worth a read. Dubnyk had a terrible season after the change and the latter two are still competing for starter positions in Vancouver and Ottawa respectively. Maybe give Dubie a call and find out about this head/trajectory training.

Taking a look at this Matt O’Connor fellow, who has drawn attention from many teams for his performance in college. His history and stats look quite similar to former Oilers netminder Ty Conklin (Source: HockeyDB).

Matt O’Connor
Season Team Lge GP Min GA SO GAA W L T Pct
2010-11 Youngstown Phantoms USHL 29 1713 98 0 3.43 10 16 2 0.886
2011-12 Youngstown Phantoms USHL 50 2886 146 1 3.04 28 16 5 0.902
2012-13 Boston University H-East 19 1110 53 0 2.86 8 8 2 0.910
2013-14 Boston University H-East 22 1224 59 0 2.89 7 9 4 0.920
2014-15 Boston University H-East 25 1518 53 1 2.1 17 3 4 0.929
Ty Conklin
Season Team Lge GP Min GA SO GAA W L T Pct
1995-96 Green Bay Gamblers USHL 30 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
1996-97 Green Bay Gamblers USHL 30 1609 86 1 3.21 19 7 1 0.908
1998-99 U. of New Hampshire H-East 22 1338 41 0 1.84 18 3 1 N/A
1999-00 U. of New Hampshire H-East 37 2194 91 1 2.49 22 8 6 0.908
2000-01 U. of New Hampshire H-East 34 2048 70 0 2.05 17 12 5 0.920

Conklin as you may recall, was another good college prospect that the Oilers actually took time to develop in the minors and as a backup before giving him the starter job. It’s easy to recall his horrible 2005/2006 season and his playoff….ah you know what, never mind. The concern with the Oilers chasing O’Connor is that they’ll probably promise him lots of ice time, like they did with Justin Schultz. Any young player would love to fast track his career and would jump at the opportunity to join a team with little depth. This of course is never good for any young prospect as it’s critical for players, goalies and defensemen especially, to develop in the minors first. Unfortunately, the Oilers have built a reputation of being a place where young guys get ice time handed to them and the pressures of winning are non-existent.

Must be fun for fans of playoff teams and bubble teams on trade deadline day. Rather than make a push for anything, the Oilers will likely be off loading an NHL player or two for picks. It’ll also be a good indicator of what MacT’s plans are for the marquee prospects in the system. I’d prefer to see guys like Nurse and Draisaitl spend some time in the minors. But MacT might just be clearing a spot at the deadline for these prospects in the hopes that they’ll be ready for the NHL. It makes no sense to rush these guys who’ll be playing key positions in a few seasons.

Recommended Links

The challenge for Todd Nelson and the Edmonton Oilers is just to avoid embarrassment – Cult of Hockey

Development and the Edmonton Oilers – Cult of Hockey

About Nail – Lowetide

Updated Oilers Possession Stats – Copper and Blue

Are the Oilers Set at Centre Now? – Oilers Rig

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