The Edmonton Oilers sending goaltender Olivier Roy to Stockton in the ECHL is an indication the organization wants to take a long look at Niko Hovinen the remainder of the season.
Roy is still on Edmonton’s radar. The 21-year-old Quebec product, who speaks with one of those cool Canadian accents, has been hot the past month, including his first stint in Stockton (3-1-1, 1.23 goals against average) last month.
Roy also has played well with the Barons, improving to 9-9-1 with a 2.77 GAA with the Barons. Roy posted two quality road wins in tight games in San Antonio to move the Barons into the eighth and final playoff spot before some team probably passes them this weekend when OKC is idle.
Hovinen is 24. The Oilers picked him up off waivers from Philadelphia on Jan. 25. Hovinen is 4-4-2 with a 3.40 GAA. Even though Roy might be the better long-term prospects, Hovinen, 6-foot-7, has shown some flashes.
The Barons have veteran Yann Danis, last year’s American Hockey League goalie of the Year, who recently returned from Edmonton where he saw limited action backing up starter Devan Dubynk.
The storyline to monitor the rest of the season is how many games does Danis start the final 17 games of the regular season. With some games in hand, OKC is in position to reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season but are far from a lock.
The Oilers most likely want to reach a conclusion on whether they want to keep Hovinen in the organization. But how much will Hovinen play?
Does Danis get more starts to try and improve playoff possibilities?
Also, would the Oilers consider promoting Roy for the playoffs if he stays hot in Stockton and the Barons qualify?