Danis. Roy. Hovinen. Why Three Goaltenders?

AHL Hockey: Jan 31 Barons vs Checkers
Niko Hovinen – one of three. Photo courtesy of Steven Christy.

Yann Danis. Olivier Roy. Niko Hovinen. The Oklahoma City Barons are currently entertaining three goaltenders. Let me re-phrase that. The Edmonton Oilers have assigned three goaltenders to their farm team. While it’s not entirely uncommon for AHL teams to ride three netminders during portions of a season, it is unusual for Oklahoma City and the Edmonton Oilers in recent years.

Yann Danis, who was present in the arena on Thursday night but unable to suit up because he arrived late, sat out two straight games. Watched from high above the Cox Center. There’s no way the NHL Oilers could have sent him down if he’s injured, so why would he be sitting out? Simple. He’s really the Oilers number two.

Khabibulin has been day-to-day for some time now, and although he suited up as the back up to Devan Dubnyk in San Jose, whether or not he was 100% ready is still undetermined.

Something doesn’t sit well with me on this situation. And I fully believe that it’s because Khabibulin himself has started to doubt whether or not he can start games, play well, and stay healthy even in a short season. Thus Yann is in the rafters at a moments notice, awaiting the call up.

There’s also the suggestion that the Oilers really want to protect their assets in Roy, and to a greater extent, Tyler Bunz. You play Yann/Roy in Oklahoma City, Yann gets recalled, that places a rookie and sophomore in net on the farm. That didn’t work out too well lately. And they want those guys to develop slowly, and with kid gloves.

There’s no doubt that Yann will get a start in Oklahoma City IF Dubnyk starts and Khabibulin claims to stay healthy (and doesn’t consider retirement, seriously). It’s important to the organization that he get the reps. But I’ll make a great assumption that he’ll get limited time behind both Roy and Hovinen in the next month. He’ll consistently remain on standby when the call down south is made. And for Yann that’s a good thing. For Oklahoma City, it’s yet to be determined if Niko Hovinen is able and steady. But anyway you slice it, the organizational shuffle of goaltenders boils down to Khabibulin’s health. Let’s see how he holds up.