A Goaltending Battle is Finally Brewing in the Oilers Crease

The Edmonton Oilers have come upon an unfamiliar issue, and one which they have not had the pleasure of entertaining in over a decades time: a raging goaltending battle.

After failing to retain quality goaltending over, quite honestly, the past 15 years, the Oilers could quite possibly put their futility between the pipes to rest in the coming 2015-16 NHL season.

This is due strictly to the influx of incredible goaltending talent following the arrival of new General Manager Peter Chiarelli, who quickly traded for Cam Talbot and signed former New York Islander Anders Nilsson.

As a result, the Edmonton Oilers have been treated to sensational goaltending throughout the pre-season, play which could be an indication of much desired change in the coming regular season.

Anders Nilsson

To date, the best Oilers goaltender has been Nilsson, who has been stellar in his return to professional hockey in North America.

In 120 minutes played with the Oilers over three games, Nilsson has yet to surrender a goal, and has looked increasingly confident and capable in the crease.

Despite playing in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) this past season, where he recorded a 1.71 Goals Against and a .936 Save Percentage, Nilsson does have prior NHL experience, having played three seasons in the New York Islanders’ organization.

As a result, Nilsson undoubtedly has a firm knowledge of the North American game, and, as already seen, will use his massive 6 foot 5, 220 pound frame to make the most of his second chance in the NHL.

Cam Talbot

Talbot Rangers

Talbot has also enjoyed a highly positive pre-season, posting a sub 2.00 GAA and a .935 Save Percentage.

Acquired by the Oilers at the NHL Draft in exchange for three draft picks, expectations run extremely high with Talbot, who, for the time being at least, is expected to draw the majority of starts for the Oilers in 2015-16.

Although he has only appeared in 57 games in his NHL career, Talbot has been exceptional, securing a .931 Save Percentage and 2.00 GAA alongside a 33-15-5 record.

However, things will undoubtedly be much different in Edmonton, as he will be playing behind a much younger, and frankly, less talented defensive core. As a result, Talbot will asked to be not only consistent, but simply stellar in his first season in Alberta.

Ben Scrivens

An incredible competitor, Ben Scrivens enters his third season with the Oilers following two seasons of struggle behind one the NHL’s worst defensive cores.

Like both Nilsson and Talbot, Scrivens has been strong this pre-season, and will be anything but a push-over when it comes to securing the Oilers crease once again this season.

Although his individual statistics have been poor over the past two years, Scrivens has become well known not only to Oilers fans, but to the entire NHL as one of the most competitive players in the League, who ceases in his mission to improve not only his game, but that of his team as well.


Assessing the Battle

What becomes increasingly clear is that there is a legitimate, heated battle raging in Edmonton for the position as the Oilers starting goaltender.

All three of these goaltenders are, as we have seen, not only highly experienced and skilled, but also highly driven and capable, with each individual competing to obtain the desired role.

Anders Nilsson New York Islanders

Yet one facet which will certainly complicate this scenario is the current contract status’ of these three goaltenders.

At the moment, Ben Scrivens currently has one-year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $2.3 Million. Talbot has one-year remaining on his deal at $1.45 Million, while Nilsson also agreed to a one-year contract, his worth $1 Million.

Since the contracts of all three Oilers goaltenders are set to expire following the end of the coming season, paired with the fact that each contract is a one-way agreement, there will be no lack of drive in these three men, as the one on the outside looking in come the beginning of the regular season could quite certainly be on his way out of Edmonton.

(Credit: Ross Bonander/THW)

Further, with young starter Laurent Brossoit earning high praise for his work in the American Hockey League (AHL), the Oilers will not consider moving a goaltender to the Bakersfield Condors on a one-way contract, and subsequently risk the development of their potential number one goaltender of the future.

With that being said, Oilers fans and the team itself will enjoy retaining much improved goaltenders this coming season, who paired with the numerous other additions to the existing roster, could push the Oilers into the postseason for the first time since 2005 -06.

All that remains to be seen is exactly who will out perform one another in order to secure the title as the Oilers starting goaltender in 2015-16

 

NWHL Launches CapPro, Revealing Player Salaries

The NWHL released “CapPro” on Tuesday, a Capgeek-like feature of the NWHL website that provides an unprecedented amount of transparency on player salaries. CapPro discloses the salary of every player in the league.

The league had previously announced that the league’s salary cap would be $270,000, averaging out to a mean of $15,000 for each of the team’s 18 salaried players. The league minimum contract is $10,000.

Each team is carrying an additional four players who are not on the 18-player roster. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t play though, with all four of the Riveters non-roster players suiting up for Sunday’s scrimmage against the FDNY. Taylor Holze was even a standout in the preseason, earning some power play time by the end of the game.

The launch of CapPro reveals that the league’s highest paid player will be Connecticut Whale defenseman Kelli Stack, who comes in at $25,000. Just under her are Megan Bozek and Meghan Duggan of the Buffalo Beauts who will be at $22,500 each.

With the wealth of talent on Boston, they’re bringing in three players at $22,000 each: Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker and Kacey Bellamy.

The highest paid player for the New York Riveters will be Japanese National Team goaltender Nan Fujimoto, followed by Russian forward Lyudmila Belyakova and Meghan Fardelmann. The deals for Fujimoto and Belyakova, considering they are traveling a great distance to play in the NWHL, makes sense a lot of sense in the context of the team.

With the numbers currently on the site, the Pride and Beauts have maxed out their cap space. The Riveters have $4,500 in cap space remaining and the Whale have $8,000.

In addition to player salary, each player will receive 15% of all sales of jerseys with their nameplate on the back.

The NWHL’s inaugural season kicks off on October 11.

RELATED: U.S. Team Captain Meghan Duggan Joins the Beauts

VW Consolidates U.S., Canada, Mexico into North America Region, Ex-Skoda Chief To Be CEO

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As part of the continuing fallout from its diesel-emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen is doing some housecleaning and some reorganizing. The company already has broomed several top engineers, and CEO Martin Winterkorn has stepped down. Now come changes that directly affect our side of the pond.

Volkswagen is consolidating its United States, Mexico, and Canada operations under a single umbrella, in a move that it describes as “decentralization.” Taking the role of president and CEO of the newly formed Volkswagen North America is Dr. Winfried Vahland. Michael Horn remains president and CEO of Volkswagen in America.

Vahland comes to his new position from Škoda, where he led the brand; he previously headed the China region. He started at the Volkswagen Group with Audi in 1990.



The combining of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is seen as a way to give the region a more powerful voice back in Wolfsburg. And indeed, Dr. Vahland will be given a seat on the Board of Management for Volkswagen Passenger Cars. Hopefully, that will be enough to head off the next bad idea for dealing with the American market.