Laurent Brossoit Heading Up, Anders Nilsson Heading Down
Poor goaltending is an almost-overplayed storyline for the Edmonton Oilers, so seeing both Cam Talbot and Anders Nilsson struggling is hardly a surprise.
While Talbot is still winning games, though, the Oilers have dropped the last eight contests in which Nilsson has appeared in net. He’s posting a seemingly poor .901 unadjusted save percentage in all situations, and things don’t appear to be getting much better.
So, the Oilers opted to make a change in an attempt to fix that:
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 10, 2016
Nilsson, 25, was reassigned to the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL. In his place, heading back to Edmonton to serve as Cam Talbot’s number two, is 22-year old prospect Laurent Brossoit – whose numbers in the AHL are as impressive this year as Nilsson’s in the NHL are bad.
While the recall is unlikely to change much about the projected outcome of the 2015-16 season for the Oilers, it does provide a huge service to both goaltenders involved in the transaction.
For Nilsson, this is his recovery period. The Oilers have been defensively inept in front of him – although not as much as they have been in years past – and while his poor play can’t be entirely blamed on the team’s inadequacies, the current Edmonton makeup simply doesn’t give Nilsson the right kind of support needed to regain his game. Spending time in Bakersfield should be exactly what Nilsson needs to shake off whatever has been causing his poor play as of late, out of the spotlight and in a situation that he’ll be able to handle with much more confidence.
Heading back the other way, it seems that this is a disservice to Brossoit. The former Calgary Flames prospect has been thriving in Bakersfield, and his first NHL start last year – a mercy killing by the San Jose Sharks that saw Brossoit lose despite making 49 saves during regulation – doesn’t suggest that things will be all that easy as he hits the big leagues.
With Nilsson a question mark for next year, though, Brossoit is the goaltender of the future for the Oilers; giving him time to play behind the NHL team while he’s still able to return to the AHL with little consequence will both prepare him for the upcoming seasons he’ll play in and give the team a glimpse at the raw materials they’ll be working with before long.
The worst case scenario in this situation is that Brossoit struggles behind Edmonton, Nilsson is unhappy in the AHL and struggles himself, and the entire team’s goaltending depth chart (as it tends to every year) will implode.
The best case scenario, though, is the far more likely one. Brossoit has shown in his limited NHL ice time that he doesn’t crack much under pressure, so he’s bound to get a few good starts at Rexall before his NHL stint is over this year; if Nilsson gets his game back to where it was with the Kazan Ak-Bars of the KHL last year, the Oilers could finish off the year with three good, competent goaltenders. They could even offer Nilsson up as trade bait to a team that needs reinforcements if he recovers in the AHL quickly; the possibility of three strong netminders in Edmonton’s system is a refreshing situation to contemplate.
The Oilers have Wednesday off for both Brossoit and Nilsson to travel to their respective new assignments, then Edmonton returns to action on Thursday against the equally-struggling Toronto Maple Leafs.