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FUTURE WATCH | Second chance success

by Dan Marrazza / Edmonton Oilers

Photo provided.

It started as a small wound, but then it wouldn’t stop bleeding.

And bleeding.

Although he was neither physically harmed nor compromised, the blood never stopped dripping from Laurent Brossoit on October 20, 2013.

At the time, the current Bakersfield Condors goaltender and 2016 AHL All-Star was playing his second career professional game as a member of the Abbotsford Heat, then the top minor league affiliate of the Calgary Flames. Brossoit’s team was locked in a 3-3 tie through two periods in a tough road game against the Texas Stars and then…

This was when Brossoit’s career flatlined.

“I didn’t play to the best of my abilities that night,” Brossoit recently told Edmontonoilers.com. “Texas got hot and took advantage of it. It is what it is. What happened happened.”

What happened was Brossoit was beaten six times in a gruesome third period, hung out to dry to allow every goal in a soul-crushing 9-3 defeat at the hands of the league’s eventual champion.

No mercy, no relief, no second chances. Brossoit never played for the Flames’ AHL affiliate again.

Was this one game the sole reason Calgary cut ties with a talented prospect? Who knows.

What we do know is that the Flames immediately sent Brossoit to cool off with the team’s ECHL affiliate in Alaska until they found another organization to take him. That came 19 days later, when they unthinkably traded what seemed to be a promising 20-year-old goalie five games into his pro career to their archrival in a four-player deal centred around Calgary receiving Ladislav Smid.

“I have to say I was surprised,” Brossoit said of his trade to the Oilers. “Very surprised.”

Photo provided.

Brossoit was surprised because the Flames and Oilers don’t make trades. Just as the Hatfields never trade with the McCoys, the Montagues don’t with the Capulets, the Crips never with the Bloods.

Ancient rivals don’t make trades because there’s too high a risk of backlash if the deal overwhelmingly works in the other’s favour.

If the Flames didn’t fear this two years ago, you’d think they’re quite concerned by what they’ve seen from their 2011 sixth-round pick since he joined Edmonton’s farm system in November 2013.

Brossoit has been a revelation since joining the Oilers organization. Now one of the best goalies not in the NHL, Brossoit’s .924 save percentage with the Condors is the prime reason Bakersfield remains in striking distance of a playoff berth despite team consistency issues throughout the first half of the season.

“He’s been a tremendous goaltender for us,” said Condors defenceman Brad Hunt, who joined Brossoit as an AHL All-Star over the weekend. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders and a high compete level.”

“I’ve gotten experience,” Brossoit added. “I’m less nervous for each game. I’ve worked on my efficiency. I’m able to make saves easier, so if there is a rebound or anything like that, I’m more likely to be in position for another save.”

Before Brossoit established himself as a bona fide prospect and perhaps the Oilers’ goalie of the future, he had to rebuild his confidence, which was at an all-time low when he was traded. Brossoit’s difficulties continued after switching organizations, quickly resulting in his demotion from Edmonton’s AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons, to the Bakersfield Condors, who were the team’s ECHL affiliate until becoming the Oilers’ AHL home base when that league expanded to California before this season.

Photo provided.

“I really worked on my efficiency that year,” Brossoit said. “I learned to take a step back from my crease and not attack the puck. Just let the play come to me.”

From the ashes of his tumultuous 2013-14 season, Brossoit emerged stronger, both mentally and as a goaltender. He used his time with the ECHL Condors to stabilize his career, paving the way to return as Oklahoma City’s No. 1 goalie in 2014-15 and move to within a breath of a permanent NHL recall this season.

“You learn what it’s like to be down in the Coast and you want to be back in the AHL and then the NHL,” Hunt said of Brossoit. “It was probably good for him to go down there and play a lot of games on the East Coast. It seems to have been tremendous for his development.”

Brossoit still has some work to do, although his potential as a 6-foot-3 goalie with exceptional athleticism occasionally makes the Oilers’ brass drool in anticipation.

Brossoit’s NHL debut – and only game with Edmonton so far – on April 9 of last season is a microcosm of his present situation. That night, against the Sharks, he stood on his head and turned aside 49 of 51 shots in a 3-1 loss. As phenomenal as that performance was, part of the reason San Jose had 51 shots was because Brossoit was sloppy with his rebound control.

Brossoit is refining his fundamentals so many second chances like the Sharks had in his debut are foiled before they occur. While it’s always valuable to have a goalie who can go beast-mode like Brossoit proved he could, Edmonton wants him to tidy things up so “beast-mode” doesn’t have to be every night.

This is all work Brossoit seems capable of putting in, especially given that his challenges now pale in comparison to that traumatic night in Texas when one awful game knocked his route to the NHL topsy-turvy.

Condors goaltender, Laurent Brossoit, poses in a group photo, with teammate Brad Hunt, at the AHL All-Star Game. Photo provided.

Back from the dead? New and improved? However you put it, Brossoit seems to have defeated his doubters, an AHL All-Star this past weekend on the verge of a permanent leap to the NHL.

“At this point, I just have to continue to gain experience,” Brossoit said. “The Oilers have told me that they’re very happy with where I am at.

“I believe that I am ready to play in the NHL. They’ve told me that they agree. It’s a matter of keeping things up and keep getting better. “

Statistics For In The System Through Past Seasons: 14-15 | 13-14 | 12-13 | 11-12
Stats Updated as of Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bakersfield (AHL) - Forwards


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
GREG CHASE C 20 19 1 6 7 +3 25
BRADEN CHRISTOFFER LW 21 30 1 3 4 -11 57
JOSH CURRIE* C 23 27 3 5 8 +3 27
LEON DRAISAITL C 20 6 1 1 2 -5 4
MATTHEW FORD*   RW 31 35 17 13 30 +2 38
RYAN HAMILTON   LW 30 37 13 8 21 -4 34
KELLEN JONES*   LW 25 12 1 2 3 0 6
ZACK KASSIAN   RW 24 7 2 1 3 0 16
KALE KESSY   LW 23 34 6 4 10 +5 45
JUJHAR KHAIRA   LW 21 23 4 7 11 -5 26
ROB KLINKHAMMER   LW 29 3 3 1 4 0 0
ALEXIS LOISEAU*   C 21 12 1 2 3 +1 2
ANDREW MILLER   RW/C 27 31 10 17 27 -3 10
MITCH MOROZ   LW 21 30 2 4 6 +3 83
PHILIP MCCRAE* C 25 17 3 2 5 -5 8
IIRO PAKARINEN   RW 24 4 1 2 3 0 4
TYLER PITLICK   RW 24 15 3 4 7 -5 2
KYLE PLATZER RW 20 33 5 8 13 -2 14
MARC-OLIVIER ROY* C 21 23 4 2 6 -2 14
ANTON SLEPYSHEV LW 21 20 4 1 5 -9 12
JOSH WINQUIST*   LW 22 16 7 9 16 -2 22
BOGDAN YAKIMOV   C/W 21 19 3 4 7 -5 8
DANIIL ZHARKOV (INJURED)
LW 21 - - - - - -
Bakersfield (AHL) - Defencemen


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
BEN BETKER   d 21 1 0 0 0 0 0
MARK FAYNE   d 28 4 0 1 1 0 4
MARTIN GERNAT   d 22 22 0 3 3 0 14
brad hunt   D 27 29 7 20 27 -3 12
JOEY LALEGGIA   D 23 35 6 13 19 +12 26
DAVID MUSIL D 22 38 3 5 8 +2 25
NIKITA NIKITIN   D 29 22 1 9 10 -9 0
DARNELL NURSE   D 20 6 0 1 1 0 7
JORDAN OESTERLE   d 23 31 2 16 18 -6 8
NICK PAGEAU*   D 27 12 0 1 1 -5 2
GRIFFIN REINHART   D 21 17 1 5 6 1 12
DILLON SIMPSON
D 22 29 1 5 6 -3 8
Norfolk (ECHL)


Name POS age    GP G A P +/- PIM
BEN BETKER D 21 40 1 13 14 +5 33
GREG CHASE F 20 17 11 5 16 +2 20
Canadian Hockey League
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
CALEB JONES  D 18 50 8 30 38 +1 47 PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS (WHL)
ETHAN BEAR  D 18 49 12 33 45   +7 29 SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS (WHL)
NCAA & USHL
Name POS age  GP G A   P +/- PIM team
EVAN CAMPBELL   LW 21 25 4  7 11 +3 16 UMASS-LOWELL (NCAA)
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 19 19 2 4 6 -3 14 UMASS-AMHERST (NCAA)
JOHN MARINO d 18 34 2 15 17 +4 18 TRI-CITY (USHL)
AIDAN MUIR LW 20 25 1 4 5 -11 14 WESTERN MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TYLER VESEL   C 21 25 3 10 13 +5 2 NEBRASKA-OMAHA (NCAA)
Europe
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
ROMAN HORAK C 24 54 12 13 25 -10 32 CHEKHOV VITYAZ (KHL)
PHILIP LARSEN   D 25 48 9 23 32 +12 37 JOKERIT HELSINKI (KHL)
ZIYAT PAIGIN  F 20 33 9 16 25 +4 6 SOCHI HC (KHL)
  8 0 1 1 +2 2 KAZAN AK-BARS (KHL)
ANTTI TYRVAINEN  F 26 7 2 0 2 -2 4 FARJESTADS BK KARLSTAD (Sweden)
  13 5 1 6 +1 53 ILVES TAMPERE (finland)
2016 World Junior Hockey Championships
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 19 7 2 1 3 +7 4 SWEDEN
Goaltenders
Name age GP w l T GAA SV% team
KEVEN BOUCHARD   19 8 3 2 2 3.48 .867 MONCTON WILDCATS (qmjHL)
  21 4 13 2 3.97 .872 baie-comeau (qmjHL)
LAURENT BROSSOIT 22 24 13 8 3 2.61 .924 bakersfield (AHL)
EETU LAURIKAINEN 22 5 2 3 0 3.41 .902 BAKERSFIELD (AHL)
8 3 5 0 2.16 .920 HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)
ZACH NAGELVOORT   21 9 5 2 1 3.14 .888 michigan (ncaa)
MIROSLAV SVOBODA   20 1 0 1 0 6.00 .750 TRINEC OCELARI (CZECH)
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