SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers trim to two netminders

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Perhaps the judge in Phoenix has decided that playing goal for the Oilers counts as timed served and they don’t have to worry about losing Nikolai Khabibulin to those DUI charges.

Or perhaps watching Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk return from a road trip with points in all three games, despite being outshot 39-32, 41-22 and 41-27, was enough to make them finally commit.

Whatever the reason, the three-headed monster is dead. For the first time since the 2007-08 season, the Edmonton Oilers are down to two goalies.

“We had a feeling they had to make a decision at some point,” said 26-year-old Jeff Deslauriers, a few minutes after the Oilers placed him on waivers Monday. “I’m disappointed, obviously, because I felt part of the family here. I’ve been part of the organization since ‘02, that’s all I know.”

The Oilers couldn’t carry on the way they were, giving up a valuable roster spot to a third goalie who never plays, so they decided, after three years, to finally get off the pot and do something about it. Deslauriers will have to wait until 10 am Tuesday to see if another NHL team picks him up. If not, he’ll be assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons.

“We’re at a crossroads, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Deslauriers, adding all he knows is his next game won’t be for the Oilers. “It’s going to be a new start and a new challenge for sure.”

And a major relief for Dubnyk, who didn’t like the crowded crease, either. He didn’t even know Deslauriers was on waivers until he noticed he wasn’t on the ice a few moments before practice on Monday.

“A little bit of a surprise, obviously, for everybody here,” said Dubnyk. “But something had to happen at some point. I’m just excited that it wasn’t me. Jeff is a friend of mine, so it’s kind of mixed emotions. It could have been either one of us.”

It’s hard to imagine Deslauriers not having a serious hate-on for the management given the way he’s been treated here almost since Day 1. First he grew cobwebs while assigned to opposition farm teams that couldn’t care less about his development, or toiled in the East Coast League, because Edmonton didn’t have their own AHL program. Then he sat around for months in two different three-goalie messes in the NHL. Now he’s been told he’s the odd man out.

But he’s taking the high road — a wise move in case he doesn’t get picked up and remains in the organization.

“I’ve been put in different situations since my debut in the NHL with them,” said Deslauriers, selected 31st overall in 2002. “I went through a three-goalie situation in my first year (with Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson), my second year I was expecting to play 20 games and it turned out to be 48 (when Khabibuin’s back went out), and this year a three-goalie situation again. I think you just grow up mentally.

“It’s through adversity that you learn to improve yourself.”

Somebody asked him if the Oilers could have handled their goaltending situation a little better, which is akin to asking Danny Maciocia if he could have handled the Eskimos a little better.

“That’s not a question for me, you should talk to them about that,” said Deslauriers. “For me I had no control over the situation. Three goalies is never a good way. Two times in three years? I’m lucky enough I should go buy a lottery ticket or something.

“But I’m not ready to give up. My goal is to play in the NHL. Where, I don’t know.”


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