Goaltending for the 2015-2016 Season

ranford-maskIssue: The Edmonton Oilers must solidify their goaltending for the upcoming 2015-2016 NHL season.

Background

The Oilers finished 28th this past season. allowing the most goals at even-strength, while finishing 26th in goals-for. Their Corsi-for (at even strength, score adjusted) was 47.3%, 24th in the league, while their percentage of scoring chances was 45.6%, ranking them 26th in the league.

Goaltending was a key contributor to the Oiler’s issues this past season. The tandem of Ben Scrivens (28 years old) and Victor Fasth (32) finished last in adjusted save percentage at even strength. Of the 48 goalies who played a minimum of 1,000 minutes in 2014/2015, Scrivens and Fasth finished 46th and 48th, respectively (Source: War on Ice). Below is a summary of their performance.

Age Games Save % (Adj) QS%
B. Scrivens 28 57 90.88 0.373
V. Fasth 32 26 90.36 0.417

Please note, adjusted save percentage takes into account the location of the shots faced by the goalie. Quality starts calculates what percentage of games the netminder gave his team a  chance to win (Source: Hockey Abstract). The league average is roughly 0.530.

Current Status

  • Scrivens has one year remaining on his contract with the Oilers, who will pay him $2.3 million in 2015/2016. Fasth will be an unrestricted free agent as of July 1, 2015, coming off a contract that paid him $3.4 million in his final season (Source: NHL Numbers).
  • The Oilers have the following goaltenders in their system:

Key Considerations

  • The salary cap will be increasing from $69 million to $71.5 million starting next season. Teams like Chicago, Boston, New York and St. Louis, who have players with sizable contracts, as well as prospects needing new contracts, may struggle with cap issues.
  • Goaltending does not have to be a large financial commitment to ensure success. Anaheim, Washington, Detroit and Tampa Bay were in the bottom five in terms of spending on goalies, and managed to make the playoffs this past season (Source: NHL Numbers)
  • Goaltending performance tends to decline with age (Source: Globe and Mail). According to one review, “goaltending development tends to peak around 23 and maintains in top form until 26” (Source Pension Plan Puppets).
  • The acquisition and eventual signing of Scrivens was based on his potential, as he had performed relatively well in LA and Toronto. There is a chance that Scrivens can bounce back next season and challenge for the starting position.
  • The Oilers have not established an NHL-calibre defence core for the 2015-2016 season yet. At the end of last season, Justin Schultz (23 years old) and Oscar Klefbom (20) were handling top pairing minutes, with the former struggling to produce despite the favorable deployment.

Option 1: Acquire an experienced goalie through free agency.
Risk: Low        Cost: Medium/High

To assess the options, I searched for the free agent goalies who played more than roughly 1,000 minutes and had respectable save percentages and/or quality starts. The cost of free agency is typically high due to the volatility of the market.

A. Niemi
Season Team Age Games TOI Save %
(Adj)
Save %
(High and Medium
Danger Shots)
QS%
2010/2011 S.J 27 60 2,813.8 93.45 88.84 0.617
2011/2012 S.J 28 68 3,166.2 93.25 88.62 0.529
2012/2013 S.J 29 43 2,034.5 93.08 88.14 0.674
2013/2014 S.J 30 64 2,949.1 92.37 86.78 0.469
2014/2015 S.J 31 61 2,899.2 92.83 87.17 0.542
M. Neuvirth
Season Team Age Games TOI Save %
(Adj)
Save %
(High and Medium
Danger Shots)
QS%
2010/2011 WSH 22 46 2,069.1 92.57 87.86 0.477
2011/2012 WSH 23 38 1,593.2 92.02 86.92 0.500
2012/2013 WSH 24 13 576.3 91.46 84.80 0.583
2013/2014 BUF/WSH 25 15 650.5 92.69 89.18 0.692
2014/2015 NYI/BUF 26 32 1,477.0 93.13 87.66 0.531
J. Enroth
Season Team Age Games TOI Save %
(Adj)
Save %
(High and Medium
Danger Shots)
QS%
2010/2011 BUF 22 14 619.3 92.94 86.25 0.538
2011/2012 BUF 23 26 1,098.0 93.13 89.46 0.682
2012/2013 BUF 24 12 490.5 93.7 89.93 0.778
2013/2014 BUF 25 28 1,241.1 93.45 89.78 0.538
2014/2015 DAL/BUF 26 50 2,302.4 92.34 87.33 0.429

Option 2: Acquire an experienced goalie through trade.

Risk: Medium        Cost: Medium/High

Because teams are either up against the cap or have an excess of capable goalies, established netminders may be available this summer, so it would be worth assessing the potential trade options. This option would require dealing existing assets, either players or draft picks, and may leave a gap in other areas of the roster.

C. Anderson
Season Team Age Games TOI Save %
(Adj)
Save %
(High and Medium
Danger Shots)
QS%
2010/2011 OTT/COL 29 51 2226.8 92.45 87.56 0.592
2011/2012 OTT 30 63 2724.6 93.02 87.64 0.567
2012/2013 OTT 31 24 1086.2 94.59 89.33 0.708
2013/2014 OTT 32 53 2321.2 92.85 88.06 0.500
2014/2015 OTT 33 35 1597.1 93.63 89.81 0.571
B. Elliott
Season Team Age Games TOI Save %
(Adj)
Save %
(High and Medium
Danger Shots)
QS%
2010/2011 COL/OTT 25 55 2362 90.96 83.33 0.333
2011/2012 STL 26 38 1737.8 94.73 91.29 0.778
2012/2013 STL 27 24 1029.8 92.68 87.79 0.600
2013/2014 STL 28 31 1293.8 92.29 87.92 0.600
2014/2015 STL 29 46 2021.7 92.83 88.84 0.600
C. Crawford
Season Team Age Games TOI Save %
(Adj)
Save %
(High and Medium
Danger Shots)
QS%
2010/2011 CHI 25 57 2686.5 93.46 89.09 0.618
2011/2012 CHI 26 57 2538.8 92.41 87.06 0.491
2012/2013 CHI 27 30 1372.1 93.98 89.39 0.679
2013/2014 CHI 28 59 2738.6 92.98 89.12 0.554
2014/2015 CHI 29 57 2676.9 93.83 88.73 0.696

Option 3: Acquire a goalie that has limited experience but has potential upside.
Risk: High       Cost: Low

This option would involve the most risk, and would involve extensive collaboration with the scouting department and possibly further data analysis. A number of unproven goalies have excelled in the right situation such as Ben Bishop (TB), Devan Dubnyk (MIN) and Jonathan Bernier (TOR). The key will be to keep the cost low and refrain from dealing high-end prospects or future first round picks.

C. Talbot
Season Team Age Games TOI Save %
(Adj)
Save %
(High and Medium
Danger Shots)
QS%
2013/2014 NYR 26 21 961 94.24 90.32 0.842
2014/2015 NYR 27 36 1689.5 93.51 89.65 0.500
M. Jones
Season Team Age Games TOI Save %
(Adj)
Save %
(High and Medium
Danger Shots)
QS%
2013/2014 L.A 23 19 862.3 95 93.2 0.722
2014/2015 L.A 24 15 626.5 92.31 87.84 0.455
A. Raanta
Season Team Age Games TOI Save %
(Adj)
Save %
(High and Medium
Danger Shots)
QS%
2013/2014 CHI 24 25 1115.1 90.59 84.35 0.545
2014/2015 CHI 25 14 659.5 94.54 90.8 0.667

Recommendations

The Oilers must solidify their goaltending in order to compete for the playoffs next season. This will be costly as the team lacks organizational depth, and has failed in developing a netminder on their own. The team must explore all options, including free agency and trade.

Having reviewed the options and the players available, it would be best if the Oilers moved forward with one established goalie, supported by a netminder that has the potential to be a starter. The team will have to keep the cost of goaltending low as the team must acquire defencemen this summer, likely through free agency.

Ben Scrivens is a good-to-average goalie with numbers to indicate that he has the potential to bounce back and possibly push for the starting position. It would not make sense, at this point, to acquire another goalie like Talbot or Martin, who are in a similar situation as Scrivens.

B. Scrivens
Season Team Age Games TOI Save %
(Adj)
Save %
(High and Medium
Danger Shots)
QS%
2011/2012 TOR 25 12 545.2 91.66 87.80 0.455
2012/2013 TOR 26 20 808.5 92.33 86.34 0.588
2013/2014 EDM/L.A 27 39 1728.3 93.43 89.59 0.629
2014/2015 EDM 28 57 2650.4 90.88 86.20 0.373

The Oilers must acquire a proven netminder such as Neuvirth through free agency, or Elliott through trade. Both Niemi and Crawford would be expensive acquisitions, with the former likely commanding a term that takes him to retirement. It may be beneficial for the Oilers to acquire a player that has familiarity with the western conference, and can handle a higher proportion of high-quality shots and scoring-chances against.

Whichever goalie the Oilers acquire must be placed in a position to succeed. The team must improve the defense by acquiring at least two established defencemen this summer and find an experienced coach that can maximize this teams potential. Moving forward the team has to establish a long term plan and developmental strategy for prospects to ensure that the club is not in this situation again.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Goaltending for the 2015-2016 Season

  1. Pingback: Goalies with Potential | The SuperFan

  2. Pingback: Thoughts on the OIlers: Draft, Reinhart, Talbot, Marincin | The SuperFan

  3. Pingback: The SuperFan Podcast – Episode 2 | The SuperFan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s