Will the Oilers sign Bernhard Starkbaum?

Reports out of Europe suggest that the Oilers could be interested in 27-year old goaltender Bernhard Starkbaum, who spent last season in the Swedish Elite League. Who is he, and would he be a good signing for the Oilers?

The Report

Via Bob Stauffer, here’s the report from the Swedish media outlet Aftonbladet. Using Google Translate, the key points seem to be as follow:

  • Starkbaum has an out-clause in his contract that allows him to pursue NHL opportunities
  • Agent Patrick Pilloni says there are NHL teams interested in Starkbaum for 2013-14
  • The Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers are two of the clubs interested

A Unique Résumé

There isn’t a goaltender in the NHL with Starkbaum’s CV. To begin with, he’s both Austrian-born and Austrian-trained – there are currently three Austrians in the NHL (Thomas Vanek, Michael Grabner and Andreas Nodl) and all of them came over to play hockey in North America before they were drafted. Among goaltenders, in league history only one Austrian – Reinhard Divis, who was briefly lit up in St. Louis around the time of the second Bettman lockout – has ever played NHL hockey.

Like Divis, Starkbaum came up through the Austrian system and then made the jump to Sweden, where he caught the attention of NHL teams. Unlike Divis, however, Starkbaum was immediately an exceptional starter in the Elitserien.

Starkbaum worked his way up the Austrian system and emerged as a quality backup option for Villacher SV in the top Austrian league around the age of 22. At 24, he took over the starting role in that league, recording a 0.923 save percentage in his debut season as starter and a 0.936 save percentage over 48 games at the age of 26. That latter performance earned him a contract with Sweden’s famous MODO, and he was exceptional there, too, posting a 0.933 save percentage (good for third in that league). He had a rough few games in the playoffs, however, and found himself replaced by Sabres draft pick Linus Ullmark between the pipes.

Where He Might Fit

Starkbaum’s regular season performance in the Swedish Elite League is enough to suggest he may be ready for work as an NHL backup, but assuming he’s ready for the role would be a significant risk for the Oilers organization.

A safer play would be to bring Starkbaum in for the third-string role currently held by Yann Danis and see how he adjusts to playing in North America; sometimes good European goaltenders hit the ground running and sometimes they need time to adapt. If Starkbaum’s success in Sweden translates immediately, he’s the kind of player who could force his way on to the NHL roster in relatively short order.

UPDATE. The suggestion that Starkbaum should start in the minors fits with the view of player agent Gunnar Svensson, who saw quite a bit of Starkbaum this season: 


Don’t forget that it’s not too late to play StreakCred – the new playoff pool game from the Nation Network. You can win a trip for 2 to Oktoberfest in Germany among the awesome prizes up for grabs. Now it’s only $10 and a portion of the proceeds go to Edmonton Charities. Sign up here.

Recently around the Nation Network

As both the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are likely looking for a similar player out of the draft (and because the two teams pick back-to-back), Kent Wilson’s series on first-round targets is of interest for Oilers fans. From First Round Targets – Elias Lindholm:

Aside from Sean Monahan, Elitersen rookie Elias Lindholm is perhaps the Flames most likely choice at 6th overall this coming June. Like Monahan and Aleksandr Barkov, Lindholm is a center with a offensive capabilities and an advanced two-way game. So, like the two targets we have already profiled, Lindholm ticks a lot of the organization’s boxes.

 Click the link above to read the whole piece, or feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

  • DSF

    What are the chances they’ll (Colorado ) get a huge overpay ? Not much as draft is deep this year . However, if you project Edmonton to remain a cellar dweller for the next couple of seasons they would probably be wise to make a deal with Oilers and switch places this year .

  • DSF

    I wouldn’t pitch our pick as I believe we will get the best player in the draft and also the Calder trophy winner next year . Under the radar somewhat – R. Ristolainen .

  • horndog77

    EXTRA , EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT ! Oilers change Boys On The Bus series to “The Little Rascals ” (tongue in cheek) . My stomach turns as ex Oilers doing so well with L.A.again .

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Man, I can’t see the Avs having a shot at their guy and passing up on Jones. Still think he’s their guy and won’t pass on this opportunity. Hard to believe MacKinnon could fall to 3 if the Panthers are in love with Drouin like DSF mentioned. There were fewer better late pushes than the one Nathan put on these last 10 days.

    Sideways move and definitely a no go if they have to give up one of the kids. I would move nearly every Oiler pick to the Lightning if MacKinnon is still available in that 3 spot.

    Sell the farm for MacKinnon, he may be good enough to push RNH to that 2nd l/c spot.

  • TwoSkidoos

    Well here’s to Nate MacKinnon pulling a Rob Ford and someone catching it on sketchy, fabled video.

    … and then he drops to 7th and MacT lets a single tear roll down his cheek.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    2012 – LA Kings
    2011 – Boston Bruins
    2010 – Chicago Blackhawks
    2009 – Pittsburgh Penguins
    2008 – Detroit Red Wings

    Stanley cup winners.

    5 teams left this year competing for the Cup.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Florida will take Mackinnon if he doesn’t go 1st overall. Too bad the oilers can’t get their hands on Mackinnon he looks like a franchise player. Maybe if we get lucky Mac T can work some magic and trade up. Maybe Ganger and the 7th?

    I’m so happy Whitney is gone what a clown. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out after your comments about your teammates.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Which of his teammates did he throw under the bus?

      Whitney will be doing his best to lay the blame of the last couple seasons at the feet of the Oilers. SIUTBSOHC special next season.

  • The last two games of the season should have featured tyler bunz in net, with the top two lines sitting in case of injuries. I don’t care what you think about losing mentality, the fact is if theplayers didn’t get it from legitimate losses, they arent going to care about a nothing game. When vancouver benches half the team, why in gods name would you risk your stars when your out of the playoffs, and competing for a bottom 5 pick. It’s absolute stupidity. Now we sit on the bubble just outside the top prospects. We should be talking barkov and mo ing up for mackinnon. Calculated losses for future success shows the players you care about winning than letting them play a meaningless scrimage. Why didn’t we learn this lesson in 2008.

    • Oilers and their players play to win – good on them ,as that’s the way it should be . You really think that if we threw those games we would be better off ? The draft is deep , we’ll do just fine . 2008 Chicago got lucky and bolted to Nbr.1 , that doesn’t ,in retrospect , mean we would have been that lucky .

    • That would be sweet if TB took Nikuschkin. I really think we could make a play at Barkov then. No idea what it would take but if we havent already traded that pick for an established player then I think going hard after a potential top (with size no less!) centerman to pair with RNH is a must.

  • Colorado-N.MacKinnon , Florida – Jones , T.Bay – Nichushkin , Nashville – Barkov , Carolina – Drouin , Calgary – Monohan , Buffalo -Lindstrom , 8th Oilers – Ristolainen ,16th Oilers – M.Domi . 35th A.Slepychev , 58th -Jarry . We deal with Buffalo .