It goes without saying that you need solid goaltending to compete in the NHL today. You might be able to squeak into the playoffs with a tandem, but when’s the last time a team won the Stanley Cup without a bona fide starter on its roster?
It’s no secret that the Edmonton Oilers have been a bad team for 10 years now—heck, one could make the argument that they haven’t been very good for 25 years. Throughout that time period, the Oilers have employed some pretty awful goaltenders. Sure, some of these keepers played behind atrocious lineups, but they were part of the problem.
There are very few goalies on this list who played for the Oilers during the 1980s, for obvious reasons. That team was a dynasty, and nearly all the games were played by either Grant Fuhr or Andy Moog—two names that belong nowhere near this list.
In order for a goalie to qualify, he needed to have played at least five regular season games for Edmonton. Other than that, everyone was fair game. Not all of the goalies on this list were bad for their entire tenures in Edmonton either, but they still had at least one season of absolute crap in Oilers silks and that’s good enough for me.
The Oilers will not win another Stanley Cup until they have a bona fide starter to go along with their tremendous core of young forwards. Let this list be a giant warning sign to Oilers management. Don't let the goaltending situation get this bad ever again.
15 Tommy Salo
I know what you’re thinking: “how can Tommy Salo, the franchise’s all-time shutout leader, be one of the worst goalies in Oilers history?” Well, he’s no. 15 on the list for one so calm down. Secondly, he’s really only on here for his performance post-2002 Olympics. Remember that? When he let in a goal from center ice against the Belarussians, costing the Swedes the chance to advance?
Salo was never the same after that incident, and his save percentage dropped from .913 in 2001-02 to .899 and .896 the following two seasons. Remember, this was during the low-scoring early 2000s.
14 Kari Takko
Kari Takko played just 11 games for the Oilers, all of them coming in the 1990-91 season. They were all pretty bad games, mind you, and Takko made his way to Europe after his failed stint in Edmonton.
Takko’s numbers pretty much speak for themselves. He went 4-4 for the defending champions, posting a GAA of 4.20 and an atrocious .867 save percentage. That GAA is a full goal higher than starter Bill Ranford’s was that season.
13 Joaquin Gage
Poor Joaquin Gage was never blessed with a capable NHL roster in front of him during his stint in Edmonton, but that’s not a good enough excuse for posting just four wins in 23 NHL appearances dating from 1994-95 to 2000-01.
Gage played out the rest of his hockey career in various European leagues after the 2000-01 season, as there wasn’t another NHL team willing to take a chance on the netminder. I think I get why.
12 Mikhail Shtalenkov
Russian netminder Mikhail Shtalenkov spent one season with the Oilers (1998-99). Splitting time with veteran Bob Essensa, Shtalenkov posted just 12 wins in 34 appearances and registered a save percentage of .896 in an era when anything less than .900 was highly unacceptable.
Shtalenkov had brief stints in Phoenix and Florida before defecting to Russia to finish his career in the Motherland.
11 Steve Passmore
Having played just six games for the Oilers franchise, Steve Passmore still makes the cut because of how futile those six games were. Passmore won one measly game out of his six starts, at which point the Oilers decided they’d seen enough.
After departing Edmonton, Passmore struggled to put up a .900 save percentage in the early 2000s, which we all know was a time when scoring was at an all-time low. Needless to say, he finished his pro career in Europe.
10 Ilya Bryzgalov
It could be worse; at least the Oilers aren’t paying Bryzgalov until 2027, like the Flyers are (at least Philly used a compliance buyout on him). Craig MacTavish signed Ilya Bryzgalov in November of 2013 after Devan Dubnyk struggled mightily out of the gate.
Not surprisingly, the gamble didn’t really pay off and Bryzgalov finished that very season in Minnesota. He’ll go down as one of the bigger goaltending disappointments of the past decade, but at least he’s a very wealthy disappointment.
9 Ben Scrivens
I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to put Ben Scrivens on this list. He seems like an intelligent, positive person who is good for the community wherever he goes. He even posted an NHL record 59-save shutout as a member of the Oilers, but in the end he still earns his spot here on this list.
It was his second and final season with Edmonton that really sealed it for Scrivens. Scrivey won just 15 of his 53 starts, posting a terrible .890 save percentage along the way. At the onset of this season, Scrivens was cut in training camp in favor of Anders Nilsson, and his career as an Oiler was over.
8 Viktor Fasth
Former GM Craig MacTavish thought he finally had his crease all figured out. With Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth penciled in to take care of business in 2014-15, things were looking pretty promising in Edmonton.
At least that’s what you’d think if you took MacTavish’s words at face value. However, the two unproven goalies went on to prove they weren’t even capable of sharing the load, with Viktor Fasth being arguably the worse of the two. His record that season was 6-15-3 and he had a .888 save percentage.
7 Fred Brathwaite
Fred Brathwaite served as Bill Ranford’s backup during the bulk of his time in Edmonton, and although he moved on from Edmonton to have an at least decent career elsewhere, his days as an Oiler were pretty grim.
In 40 total appearance with the Oil, Brathwaite was credited with just five wins and he posted a sub-.900 save percentage in two of his three seasons in Edmonton, including a dismal .863 in 14 appearances in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season.
6 Peter Ing
Despite having a pretty cool name, Peter Ing’s time in Edmonton was pretty disappointing. He only appeared in 12 games during the 1991-92 season, which was his only in Edmonton. In those 12 appearances, Ing compiled just three wins, a 4.27 GAA and a .869 save percentage.
Ing only played three more NHL games after his stint with the Oilers, all with the Red Wings in 1993-94. It seems that his time in Edmonton did not go unnoticed throughout the league.
5 Nikolai Khabibulin
Nikolai Khabibulin had an impressive career to be sure. I don’t know if it’s Hall of Fame worthy (not likely), but an argument could be made. However, if there’s one thing that holds him back from legendary status, it was his time in Edmonton at the tail end of his career.
Khabibulin backstopped the Oilers through some of their darkest days, from 2009 to 2013. It seemed no matter who he shared the crease with (most often it was Devan Dubnyk) he was being outperformed by a wide margin.
4 Jeff Deslauriers
Jeff Deslauriers spent two seasons in Edmonton’s crease, the second of which he earned more starts than any other goalie. The term “earned” here should be taken with a grain of salt, of course.
Deslauriers struggled through pretty much his entire 58-game career as an Oiler, registering a .901 save percentage and recording just 23 wins in 53 starts. He played on two atrocious Oilers teams of course, but in all fairness it’s safe to say he was part of the problem.
3 Pokey Reddick
Eldon “Pokey” Reddick has a sweet nickname, and no one can ever take that away from him. However, his brief NHL career (spent in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Florida) was nowhere near as sweet as his name, which is a damn shame.
Reddick played in Edmonton for two seasons, basically playing third string behind Grant Fuhr and Bill Ranford. Even that proved to be too tall a task for Pokey, as he posted a paltry .833 save percentage over the two seasons.
2 Ron Tugnutt
Ron Tugnutt is another goalie who was blessed with a killer name, but lacked the requisite skill to live up to it. The weird thing is Tugnutt had a pretty impressive career overall, appearing in 537 NHL games from 1988 to 2004. Twenty-nine of those appearances came in an Oilers uniform, and they were some of his worst games from a numbers perspective.
During Tugnutt’s two seasons in Edmonton, he posted the worst numbers of his career, and that’s saying something as some of his career occurred during the high-flying 1980s.
1 Ty Conklin
There are probably worse goalies who’ve played for the Oilers, I’ll admit that much. But Ty Conklin ends up in the top spot on this list because he was the weakest link on the 2006 Edmonton Oilers squad that came one game short of winning the Stanley Cup.
His infamous gaffe late in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final cost the Oilers the game, and it’s also a sequence forever burned into the minds of Oilers fans. It should be noted that he was pretty bad all season. Edmonton just barely squeaked into the playoffs, and perhaps wouldn’t have even made it if not for late season acquisition Dwayne Roloson. Conklin sported a measly .880 save percentage in 2005-06.