Multiple reports have the Edmonton Oilers going after some goaltending help this season. It appears general manager Ken Holland has seen enough and finally realized that his reliance on an unhealthy Mike Smith, an inconsistent Mikko Koskinen, and a combination of rookies isn’t going to get the team where it needs to be.
While a number of names have been thrown out there in connection with the Oilers, most of the names aren’t all that realistic. Marc-Andre Fleury is probably not coming to Edmonton, both for salary and trade control reasons. Carey Price has total control over his future, is far too expensive and he’s not played a single game all season. Jaroslav Halak doesn’t want to leave Vancouver and the Canucks are still fighting to make the playoffs. The Boston Bruins don’t need to make a decision on someone like Jeremy Swayman yet, nor do the Washington Capitals on youngsters like Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov. The latter two teams are still in the playoff hunt and could use the depth.
So what are some realistic options for the Oilers? Who is actually available and who could the Oilers target, afford and actually acquire without taking important pieces off of their roster?
The New York Rangers have found gold in Igor Shesterkin, who has become a true No. 1 amid a Vezina Trophy-caliber season. This the exactly what the Rangers were hoping would happen when they went with Shesterkin over Alexandar Georgiev and Henrik Lundqvist a couple of seasons ago.
While the Rangers are going to be a playoff team and could use the depth for a postseason run, there has been plenty of talk that Georgiev’s future in New York is uncertain and if the Oilers see him as a long-term fit, he could be their guy and Edmonton might be willing to entice the Rangers into a move.
Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff believes this is who the Oilers should be looking at, not short-term band-aid options. Meanwhile, Nick Kypreos notes, “Georgiev is out there. They are talking about him and there’s no way the Rangers are keeping him.” He adds, “He comes in at $2.5 million the rest of the year. He wants to be a number one goaltender and he’s not happy in New York. I don’t think it would take much more than a third-rounder (to get him).”
Georgiev has a 2.92 goals-against average this season with a 2.92 save percentage. If he keeps it going, it will be the third-straight year he posts better than a .900 save percentage and he’s only 25 years old. The real question is, why would the Rangers trade him right now? They are clearly a buyer this season and moving him makes little sense unless they have another goaltender they’re bringing in. Georgiev might be a better move made in the offseason.
Anton Khudobin/Braden Holtby
The Oilers could call the Dallas Stars and get one of Anton Khudobin or Braden Holtby out of Dallas. The Stars would prefer to move Khudobin — who was waived and is now on their taxi squad — and the Oilers would prefer to land Holtby because he’s got better numbers and is a pending UFA this summer.
The key to a Holtby deal in Dallas will be watching the Stars’ situation closely to see where they wind up. They’re currently sitting 5th in the Western Conference and just outside a playoff spot. If they fall back of the pack, Holtby could be on the move. He’s got a 2.68 goals-against and a .913 save percentage, plus he makes an affordable $2 million this season. If the Stars stay in the mix, he won’t be traded.
That would leave Khudobin as an option, but Edmonton is very leery of the extra year he’s got on his current deal. He’s been linked to the Oilers before, but that was when he was having a tremendous run for the Stars around the time the team went to the Stanley Cup Final. His game has dropped significantly since then. Can he find playoff magic one more time? It would be a gamble, but the Oilers might be inclined to take that bet.
More than one insider has now confirmed that the Oilers have at least looked at Martin Jones out of Philadelphia. The Flyers will be a seller this season and the 32-year-old pending UFA is probably going to be on the move, assuming the Flyers can find someone to trade for him. That someone could be Edmonton if all other options Holland explores fall through.
Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal writes that Jones is not the Oilers’ first choice but he might be a deal that gets made closer to the deadline if things go sour on the goaltending front and the Oilers are still in the playoff mix. He writes:
No word on what the price tag might be, though the option of Mikko Koskinen at 50% retained would balance the contract/cap hit obligations while filling the backup goalie hole for the Flyers. The Oilers presumably would sweeten the pot with another asset, though one wouldn’t think it would be too dear.source: ‘Kyle Turris placed on waivers, Seth Griffith recalled, Martin Jones rumoured a goalie of interest as Edmonton Oilers search for solutions’ – Bruce McCurdy – Edmonton Journal – 01/21/2022
Do Nothing and Hope Koskinen, Skinner and Smith Come Through
As much as fans aren’t going to like hearing it, perhaps the most likely situation is that the Oilers do very little if anything. It’s been noted that the team isn’t fond of the idea of moving anything significant to address the goaltending woes, even though the team is looking at multiple options. A first-round pick or high-end prospect is out of the question and Holland seems to be the one man who is holding out hope that his trio of goalies can come through in the crunch.
Holland has long tried to improve the goaltending in Edmonton, but he’s never tried that hard. He passed on the extra year of Jakob Markstrom when he probably could have signed the goaltender out of Vancouver. He didn’t make a big offer to anyone this past offseason and stuck with his tandem. What’s got the fan base thinking he’ll pull the trigger on something now?
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”