I’m of the mindset that having a young goalie with starter potential would be a smart move by the Oilers. Initially, I thought a goalie like Cam Talbot or Martin Jones, who are currently serving as backups, would be smart acquisitions, similar to how the Leafs acquired Jonathan Bernier in June of 2013 for a second round pick. If a goalie has been successful at the AHL level and has shown well in a limited role at the NHL level, that to me is good enough to warrant at least an assessment.
Alex Thomas, who does excellent work at the Oilers Rig, recently put a case together for acquiring Cam Talbot from the Rangers. The 27 year old played well while Lundqvist recovered from an injury. But his stats and style of play, to me, aren’t anything outstanding. In fact, his numbers at the NHL level and other leagues are somewhat similar to that of current Oilers netminder Ben Scrivens.
Here’s their NHL seasons to date. (Source: Hockey Reference)
Here’s a summary of each netminders overall stats by league:
Both goalies have come through the college ranks and have performed well at the AHL level. There’s no denying that they both have potential to be decent at the NHL level. The issue for Oilers fans is that Scrivens faltered badly last year in his first real attempt to be a starter, while Talbot appears to be ready for his first shot.
In my opinion, if you want a “goalie with potential” for next season, stick with Ben Scrivens. Two reasons:
One, Scrivens won’t cost you anything. He”ll make a very reasonable $2.3 million next year becoming a free agent in July of 2016 (Source: NHL Numbers). Talbot, on the other hand, will likely cost the Oilers either a draft pick or a young prospect in return. Goalies are not worth first round picks. And goalies are not worth high end prospects like Nail Yakupov. Nothing of that calibre should be in play. Goalies should never command that kind of return as there are a limited number of goalie jobs and more than enough professional goalies available. If the price for Talbot is high, the Oilers could always consider trading for similar “starter potential” goalies like Martin Jones, Antti Raanta or Andrei Vasilevskiy. But it’d be much wiser to spend existing assets on positions that are harder to fill such as defence.
Secondly, I’m fairly confident that Scrivens will bounce back from his horrific 2014/2015 season. Good to average goalies like Scrivens are susceptible to bad seasons, and typically get back to their standard level of performance soon after. We know Scrivens can play at the AHL level and he has done well in the three seasons prior at the NHL level.
One stat that’s worth paying attention to is the percentage of quality starts. Here’s a summary of the metric from from Habs Eyes on the Prize:
A Quality Start (QS) is a goaltending statistic that is awarded to a goaltender who gave his team a reasonable chance to win a game. This is quantified by the goaltender’s save percentage within an individual game itself and comparing it to the league standards for an average SV%, and the established ‘replacement level’ SV% if the goalie faces a low amount of shots faced in a given game (usually less than 20). If a goalie outperforms the league average save percentage, he is awarded a quality start. Additionally, a goalie is awarded a quality start if he allows 2 goals or less while keeping his save percentage above the expected performance of a replacement level goaltender.
Scrivens finished with a QS% of 0.396 this past season, which was second last among goalies who played a minimum of 20 games. In last place: Victor Fasth at 0.375. The league average for goalies is around 0.530. Worth noting that Scrivens has had a respectable QS% in the past. (Souce: Hockey Abstract).
The good news is that other good goalies have had horrific seasons similar to Scrivens’ 2014/2015 campaign. Of those that finished with a QS% below 0.400 since 2007, the vast majority have bounced back and managed to have decent careers. A few of the notables.
Obviously, each goalie had their own unique situation, and there are always 1,001 factors that impact goalie performance. But the general trend is that goalies who have a poor QS% one year, tend to bounce back soon after. Scrivens has his work cut out for him this summer if he wants to improve. But in my mind, the Oilers should retain him as their “goalie-with-potential” paired with an established netminder this coming season, and avoid sending away assets for guys like Cam Talbot.