If I can pretend to be Bill Simmons for a moment…it’s like the end of the Godfather Part I today in Edmonton. I see Lowe in the role of Michael Corleone, settling the Oilers goaltending accounts. I figure Mike Morrison went down like Moe Greene-he’s the Closer, the Mayor, he’s pulling down 450K, he’s got a wicked accent-life is good. Then bang, he gets shot in the eye while getting a massage, the hockey equivalent of which is being sent to the ECHL.
Ty Conklin is like Carlo Ricci-Lowe and MacT sucked him in by starting him for three games in a row (wherein the Oilers get five points) just like Michael was godfather to Carlo’s son. Then he has a meeting with him. I imagine it was like that scene at where Michael questions Carlo about Sonny’s death:
“You have to answer for the soft goals Ty.”
“Kevin…you got it all wrong. I was screened…my groin…spine cancer.”
“That little farce you pulled with your groin…you think that could fool a Lowe? Morrison’s on waivers. Roloson is in. Today I settle all family business, so don’t tell me you’re innocent Ty. Admit what you did. Come on. Don’t be afraid Ty. You know no one ever really leaves the Oilers organization; god, we didn’t even fire Craig Simpson-you think I’d do anything that would hurt you? Now, many of those goals were terrible, weren’t they?”
“Yes. I was healthy, I wasn’t screened…the goals were just awful.”
“There’s a car waiting outside to take you to the airport. You’re being sent to Hartford. We won’t be recalling you and we won’t be picking up your option.”
Hopefully Conklin has the good sense to get into the back seat of the car.
I’m not at all sure who Jussi is in this whole thing-maybe he’s like Fredo and Lowe will have someone do him in at some point in the future for his sins. It’s a shame Mike Comrie is already gone-he’d make an excellent Fredo. I’d love to make a joke about him “…banging cocktail waitresses two at a time.” But not cocktail waitresses.
Having beaten that allusion into the ground, this is a trade that works for both teams, I think. Doug Risebrough did very well to pick up a first round draft pick without hurting his team-they can ride Fernandez down the stretch. The Wild are extremely marginal to make the playoffs even if the Oilers couldn’t find a goalie; this may have finished off their chances in that it strengthens one of the teams they’re chasing but it saves them $341K and adds a first rounder (and possibly a third). Smart move by Risebrough.
Now, from the Oilers perspective, they’re getting a guy who has just put up solid numbers for the last three years. I’ve included Roloson’s numbers in a table to the left. His relative save percentage has been outstanding for the past three seasons after a very mediocre start to his career-1019, 1024 and 1015. The last time I did the Oilers as a team, they were at 980-even if Roloson falls to league average, he’d be a significant improvement over what they were getting.
Some of the dumber commentary I’ve seen on this (like the Wild’s press release, and every second comment on Calgarypuck, makes a big deal about Roloson’s record compared to Fernandez. His significantly higher goals against average has also been mentioned. I wouldn’t read too much into it. Roloson has, for some reason, had the Wild play significantly worse in front of him. On my numbers, the expected even strength goals against per 60 (based on shot volume, distance and whether or not it was a rebound) for the Wild when Roloson was in net was 3.07; when Fernandez was in net, it was 2.63. That’s a pretty significant difference. The Roloson figure of 3.07 (which is designed to reflect the team in front of him as opposed to the goalie) is a worse figure than that put up by every team except Atlanta, the Islanders and the Penguins this sesaon. I’m not so sure that he’s had the Wild’s usual stellar play in front of him in games he’s played this season. I don’t generally pay attention to wins as a goalie stat but I’d assume that the Wild have given better offensive support to Fernandez.
Much has been made of Roloson playing for the Wild and the idea that he’s just putting up numbers playing behind a stifling defence. I’m not sure what to make of this myself-while it’s true that he put up worse than league average numbers prior to the last three years, he was consistently excellent in the minors and spent much of his NHL time playing for teams that weren’t particularly good defensively. As I noted, there are indications that they haven’t played particularly well in front of him this season and he’s still put up good numbers.
Comparing him to the trio we’ve been using all year, I have him as being 3 goals below his expected goals against at even strength this year, again, with expected goals against being determined by shot volume, rebounds and distance. He’s faced 536 ES shots as of my last update. That’s a hell of a lot better than the guys that the Oilers have been using-as of my last update, Jussi was -15 on 633 shots, Ty was -5 on 198 shots and Morrison was -3 on 248 shots. This indicates to me that Roloson has been significantly better this season than the guys he’ll be replacing.
My conclusion is that if he puts up the save percentage he has so far this season for the remaining 20 games and we assume he plays 80% of the games, I figure he makes the Oilers 12 goals better. That’s a ridiculously huge number, worth in the neighborhood of 4 points in the standings. I’d say that this puts the Oilers back into the hunt for the division title, although Calgary is still the favourite. Those two remaining games with the Flames, if swept, could probably see the teams swap spots. Otherwise, I see the Oilers as either fifth or sixth in the conference as a result of this-Nashville or Calgary in the first round. Either one of those series would be a great deal of fun to watch-the Oilers would be clear favourites against Nashville in my opinion and if it’s the Flames…well, as Clemenza said about a war between the Corleones and the other families:
That’s alright — this thing’s gotta happen every five years or so — ten years — helps to get rid of the bad blood. Been ten years since the last one. You know you got to stop them at the beginning…
I’d just as soon see the end of any pretensions that they’ve got an elite team at the south end of Highway 2.
Update:One point of concern on Roloson. He’s got a Turek-esque .911/.908 ES/PP SV% split. While his ES SV% has fallen dramatically in MyNHL, his PP SV% is still ridiculously close. You have to wonder if he’s had some luck this year against the PP or benefitted from Minnesota’s penalty kill. He’s still been miles and miles better than the Oilers goaltenders, but one wonders just how much better he is. I’ll settle for league average at the low end.