Oilers' race for backup goalie job up in the air with Khabibulin back

GYI0060076660-deslauriers-petersen-getty.jpgWith the reemergence of Nikolai Khabibulin in Edmonton, much in part thanks to him filing an appeal on his drunk driving conviction, the future of Jeff Deslauriers or Devan Dubnyk hangs in the balance. The role to be the backup goalie to Khabibulin is up for grabs and while both Deslauriers and Dubnyk did what they could last season while Khabibulin was out with a back injury, neither showed that they were ready to be “the man” as the interim starter.

Now it’s between those two again in the preseason and neither player has shown that they’ve got the edge on the job. Not even the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson could get Oilers coach Tom Renney to tip his hand.

Do the Oilers want a goalie who can be a solid backup to Khabibulin, who might only play 55 games? Or do they want a player who can be a No. 1, in time, because by the time the team gets really good as their young players develop, Khabibulin probably won’t be here?

“I think if you’ve got both (platforms) it’s best, but you do need a goalie who’s going to grow into the No. 1 role. Khabibulin won’t play forever,” said Renney. “I do believe we have some other goalie prospects (Olivier Roy) in the system. That said, whoever emerges, should be capable of taking the reins and running with it.”

Renney said he hasn’t tried to form an opinion, coming into camp, on which guy he likes best. But when you play as little as Deslauriers and Dubnyk are going to play in just six exhibition games this fall, the coach has to have some idea whom he likes best, doesn’t he?

“I’m trying not to do that. Look at the year we had last season. Is it fair to evaluate anybody under those circumstances? Especially a goalie. I think a lot of people were exposed.

“I’m trying to operate with a blank page,” said Renney.

Whoever loses the job will likely get sent to Oklahoma City in the AHL but they’ll have to go through waivers first. Matheson believes that Dubnyk is the favorite to win the job only because Deslauriers is more marketable to other teams to be traded. Sending him through waivers could lead to the Oilers just losing him without compensation.

What’s making one of these two all the more expendable is Martin Gerber’s presence in the system. With Gerber returning to the NHL/AHL this year, keeping both Dubnyk and Deslauriers makes no sense. After all, you don’t want to spend an extra roster spot at the NHL level for a third goalie and having two NHL-experienced goalies in the AHL crushes the team’s development of younger players.

Gerber makes for an instantly solid call-up from the AHL if Khabibulin gets re-injured or if his appeal is heard mid-season sending him to jail for a month. Gerber is more experienced and provides a bit more consistency than the younger pair fighting for a job now. That’s a lot of presumption there on my part, but like with the Oilers, they too know they’ve got to be ready for anything this season.

(Photo: Christian Petersen – Getty Images)

Scroll Down For:

    Gostisbehere sets new rookie record in OT loss to Devils

    Philadelphia Flyers' Shayne Gostisbehere reacts after scoring the first goal of his career during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
    Associated Press
    1 Comment

    Shayne Gostisbehere is the proud owner of a new rookie record.

    With his goal in the third period of Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss to the Devils, the 22-year-old extended his point streak to 11 games, which is a record for rookie defensemen in the NHL.

    Gostisbehere has an incredible 10 goals and 30 points in 35 games this season.

    Gostisbehere’s goal tied the game at one after Devils forward Joseph Blandisi scored this beauty in the first period:

    Adam Henrique added the game-winning goal in overtime.

    It’s the second straight 2-1 victory for the Devils, who also beat the Oilers by the same score on Tuesday night.

    The Flyers have just one win in their last five contests.

    To add insult to injury, Philadelphia lost Michael Del Zotto to an upper-body injury, per GM Ron Hextall.

    Here’s an updated look at the Metropolitan division standings and Wild Card race:

    standings

    After missing two games because of an illness, Panarin will return to ‘Hawks lineup

    Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates after scoring an empty-net goal on an assist from Patrick Kane against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 3-1. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
    Associated Press
    Leave a comment

    CHICAGO (AP) Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin is expected to play Saturday night against Anaheim after missing two games with an illness.

    Panarin participated in Chicago’s optional morning skate, and coach Joel Quenneville says the rookie will be in the lineup against the Ducks.

    The 24-year-old Panarin, who has played on Chicago’s second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane for most of the season, is second on the team with 34 assists and 52 points. The Blackhawks dropped both games while he was out.

    Rangers get good news on McDonagh, bad news on Nash

    3 Comments

    Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.

    Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.

    The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.

    McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).

    The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.

    McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.

    The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.

    Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.

    He’ll miss at least another week.

    Video: Blandisi scores great between-the-legs goal vs. Flyers

    2 Comments

    What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.

    The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.

    It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.

    Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.

    He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).

    That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.

    Some Twitter reaction to the goal: