Ask Matty: Roberto Luongo likely starting goaltender for Canada at Sochi Olympics
Veteran stands as best bet right now to don Maple Leaf, mind net once more
EDMONTON - Q: Who will be the goalie for Canada at the Olympics?
A: It’s easier to say who it won’t be. I suspect guys may play their way out of contention, like Braden Holtby (6.30 goals-against average his first two games with the Washington Capitals) and Devan Dubnyk (10 goals allowed in his first two starts). Canada is not taking Martin Brodeur at age 41. He’s had his chances in three Olympics. Marc-Andre Fleury, the third man at Vancouver in 2010, has to play his way back into contention. After giving up one goal in two starts for the Pittsburgh Penguins, he is doing his best to make the selectors forget about his shoddy playoff work the past two seasons. The Carolina Hurricanes’ Cam Ward, coming off knee surgery, didn’t get an invite to the late August orientation camp in Calgary, but he will force Hockey Canada to look at him. I’d say Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks has the job because he has the gold medal from Vancouver and two of the coaches (Ken Hitchcock and Mike Babcock) are supporters, but Carey Price in Montreal and Mike Smith in Phoenix definitely will be contenders. I’m not sold on Stanley Cup goalie Corey Crawford. He’s good, but I see him as a possible No. 3
Q: Do the Oilers have salary-cap room to sign Ilya Bryzgalov?
A: No, not unless they find a trade partner to take Dubnyk. I’m not sure where the love comes from for Bryzgalov. He was available this summer to lots of teams after the Philadelphia Flyers realized their error in signing him and used a compliance buyout to get rid of him. He is a good goalie, but it’s become too much of a circus around Bryzgalov in my opinion. That said, Las Vegas is known for it’s strange acts, and that’s where Bryzgalov landed last week with the ECHL Wranglers.
Q: I keep seeing Curtis Hamilton on the active roster, but he wasn’t in the Oilers’ opening night lineup. What’s up? Is he hurt?
A: Hamilton was in Edmonton throughout training camp. He is rehabilitating his knee after surgery in May. He was hurt in a practice after the first game of the Oklahoma City Barons’ American Hockey League playoff series against the Charlotte Checkers. He has just reported to Oklahoma City. This is a pivotal year for the 2010 second-round draft pick. The forward’s three-year contract is up and the Oilers may let him walk, as they did with Phil Cornet and Colten Teubert, if they don’t see major progress, He has been a third-, fourth-line AHLer so far with 20 points in 102 games.
Q: A few years ago, the Oilers had Martin Gerber playing on the farm team and he was a good foot soldier, winning all three games he played for the Oilers. Why didn’t the Oilers bring him back the next year? Now he’s playing in Europe.
A: Gerber is 39 years old and playing for Kloten in the Swiss Elite League. He left the organization in 2011. The Oilers instead signed a somewhat younger Yann Danis to be a veteran presence with the Barons. Gerber wound up in Sweden, playing for Vaxjo as a teammate of ex-Oiler Liam Reddox and for Rogle, then hopped over to Switzerland. Reddox is in his third season in Vaxjo, an Elite League club.
Q: Whatever became of Jesse Niinimaki, the much-talked about Oilers’ first-round draft pick?
A: At last look, Niinimaki, 30, the Oilers’ shocking first-round selection in 2002, was tied for second place in the Finnish Elite League scoring race with another former Oilers’ draft pick, Dragan Umicevic (Assat Pori). Niinimaki, who plays for Lahti, showed up at his first Oilers’ training camp looking more like Warren Beatty in the movie Shampoo, where he played a hairdresser, than a muscled hockey player. He played 24 games in 2004-05 for the AHL Edmonton Road Runners and scored one goal. He wasn’t physical, but was a fairly good talent.
Got an NHL question for Matty? Email him with one (or 12): jmatheson NHLbyMatty
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal