It’s been a wild week in Oil Country. In case you have been living under a rock, here is a quick coles notes: the Edmonton Oilers lost to the Vancouver Canucks for the third straight time this season (and their ninth loss in 11 games total), after outshooting them 2-8 in the first period but coming out of it down 3–1. This further amplified the screams regarding the goaltending (or lack thereof) this season, and the next day Jack Campbell, the prized free agent signing from 2022 on a five-year, $25M deal, was waived. Interestingly enough, Campbell actually didn’t play the day before, so timing is definitely weird here, as it seems like the message to Stuart Skinner was “you played so bad we are sending the other goalie down!”
Unfortunately, the Oilers only get to save $1.15M of Campbell’s cap hit, and by calling up Calving Pickard, that results in only a total of $387,500 of savings.
Therefore, barring someone taking Campbell’s contract of their hands, the Oilers are going to have to get a bit creative in trying to solve their goaltending issue before this season is completely lost.
In this article, we are going to explore some options that are definitely, 100% real, legitimate, possible and serious, and not tongue in cheek whatsoever. Promise.
This is probably the most obvious one everyone has come up with. At an approximate cost of $180 for a top of the line one, the cap squeeze shouldn’t be an issue. And sure, the shooter tutor has some holes in his game for sure, but at least you know exactly where they are, so you can plan a defensive structure around it with some certainty.
From my extensive review of the NHL rulebook (which definitely did not consist of simply opening it up and searching for the term “shooter tutor”), I don’t see any rule against this option. There could be an argument that it violates the jersey tie-down rules in section 9.4, but technically that is to stop webbing between the legs and under the armpits, which areas are in fact open on some shooter tutors. There is also the fact that a shooter tutor isn’t a jersey either. It could also be considered a violation of rule 11.1 on goalkeeper’s equipment, but we are just gonna ignore it because is it really equipment?
Another idea that has been trotted out numerous times and shot down is placing a sumo wrestler in the net. People point out that, despite what some people think, there is actually more to goaltending than just standing there and being big, and so a sumo wrestler with no experience likely wouldn’t be much better than a shooter tutor…in which case, maybe this option is better than the first one? It’s more legal at least for sure.
Also, a fact that I never knew about until googling sumo wrestling is that the minimum size is only 5’6″ and 148 lbs. So, this may not actually be as good of an idea as we initially thought.
On November 27, 2021, Kris Russell became the NHL’s all time leader in blocked shots with his 1,999th blocked shot. He has since been passed by Mark Giordano and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, but his 2.24 blocks per game dwarfs their 1.89 and 1.64 per game, respectively.
So if Russell was that good at blocking shots when it wasn’t his sole responsibility, imagine how good he would be if that is ALL he did? Plus, give him goalie equipment instead of his tiny player equipment, and I think we have a legitimate Vezina winner on our hands.
The Mighty Ducks’ Three-Headed Monster
I know just mentioning “three-headed monster” brings Oilers fans terrible flashbacks to 2005 prior to Dwayne Roloson coming in and becoming the saviour of Oil Country, but unlike that trio, the D2 Mighty Ducks one was a championship caliber one.
If you are asking yourself who the third goalie is, I invite you rewatch the movie and witness the glory that was dressing Russ Tyler in place of Goldberg in order to buy him time to get off his patented knucklepuck to tie the gold medal game. If you don’t yell “the goalieeeeeeee” every time a goalie starts handling the puck, what are you even doing?
And yes, I know Tyler didn’t make a save and was only in for one play, but it’s a hell of a hail mary that just may be needed at times.
So why would they be a good choice?
I know may people will point to Greg Goldberg (yes, Goldberg has a first name apparently) not being the strongest goaltender, but you can’t deny the man gets results. Plus, just tell him the puck is a cheeseburger, then I bet he’d stop it.
The big catch here (pun intended) would be Julie “the Cat” Gaffney. That save in the Junior Goodwill Games shootout was outstanding. A triple deke with a slapshot to the glove side that she snags so well that no one knows if it went in or not until she drops it? That’s just mad skill.
Finally, versatility. Greg Goldberg (yes, Goldberg has a first name, I too was shocked) and Russ Tyler both played defence, and so you know have some nice utility players. They both also scored big goals in big moments as well, so the clutch factor is off the charts here.
Tate McRae recently teased her new album wearing goalie pads, which led to a swath of people commenting on how they were actually backwards.
But honestly, if that’s the only flaw in her game, then I say sign her up.
She’s been marketing for the NHL lately, and is Canadian, so you know she knows hockey (we will just ignore the fact she is from Calgary here).
She also has some pretty good athletic ability, having finished third on So You Think You Can Dance.
At the very least, she would probably a great idea to put in net against the Columbus Blue Jackets for the mind games against Cole Sillinger.
I already made this pitch to her with no response yet, will keep you posted though.
Now I know what you are going to say, “You haven’t played goalie in ice hockey since you were 8!” “You are way too small to be an NHL goalie!” “How would we know any of that, we don’t even know who you are!”
All of which is true. But hear me out : if this season does end up becoming a lost season, the Oilers may as well try and make things as entertaining as possible to keep fan interest up. And what would keep interest up more than a random Joe Blow coming off the street and trying to stop NHL caliber shots?
What kind of entertainment would I bring?
Well firstly, I wouldn’t be trying any of that butterfly nonsense. Or any real structure whatsoever. You want two pad stacks? You want diving head first across the net? You want fish out of water, windmill antics? I am your guy. (NOTE: Saves not included in above activities.)
I would also push the limits with so many shenanigans. Player gets kicked out of the faceoff dot in the defensive zone? I’ll step up and take that draw. Player coming in on a breakaway? I will go so Dominik Hasek on Marian Gaborik on that guy. Goalie fights? Every game (and every period if I can swing it).
I mean, the season can’t get any worse, can it?
Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire