WWYDW: Solve the Oilers’ goaltending problems


It’s no secret that the Edmonton Oilers are bad. Dallas Eakins was fired on December 15 after his team won just seven of its first 31 games (23 percent), but not a lot seems to have really changed; the Oilers have won just three of 13 games since (also 23 percent).

But “What Would You Do Wednesday” isn’t about obsessing over problems; it’s about finding solutions. To that end, our question today focuses on one of the Oilers’ biggest issues: goaltending. How should the team fix the position?

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Out starting position is the players currently in net. Ben Scrivens (8-15-7, 0.896 SV% this season; 35-45-13, 0.910 SV% career) has another year on his deal while Viktor Fasth (2-10-2, 0.886 SV% this season; 22-21-6, 0.907 SV% career) is a pending unrestricted free agent.

My expectation for the Oilers is that Fasth will be allowed to leave and that Scrivens will be bumped into the backup position; it’s also what I’d be inclined to do in their shoes. There’s no question in my mind that Fasth should go; the question is whether Scrivens should follow him out the door. I doubt he has any trade value and he’s been better at other stops so I suspect it’s worthwhile to hang on to him and hope for a rebound rather than buy him out or try and trade him away. 

If that view is correct, who should the Oilers pursue to share the net with him?

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The List

Goalie Type 2014-15 Numbers Career Numbers
Cam Ward Trade 11-16-3, 0.913 SV% 253-183-56, 0.910 SV%
Ilya Bryzgalov UFA 0-2-0, 0.836 SV% 220-160-53, 0.913 SV%
Craig Anderson Trade 11-10-6, 0.928 SV% 179-145-46, 0.915 SV%
Antti Niemi UFA 17-11-4, 0.912 SV% 175-88-37, 0.916 SV%
Ondrej Pavelec Trade 10-10-6, 0.909 SV% 123-135-41, 0.906 SV%
James Reimer Trade 6-7-0, 0.902 SV% 71-55-15, 0.913 SV%
Devan Dubnyk UFA 9-5-2, 0.916 SV% 70-81-24, 0.910 SV%
Michal Neuvirth UFA 3-12-1, 0.909 SV% 62-55-14, 0.911 SV%
Josh Harding UFA 0-1-1, 0.920 SV% (AHL) 60-59-11, 0.918 SV%
Anton Khudobin Trade 3-8-2, 0.908 SV% 36-27-4, 0.925 SV%
Jhonas Enroth UFA 11-15-2, 0.906 SV% 36-50-14, 0.911 SV%
Karri Ramo UFA 8-5-1, 0.904 SV% 36-41-15, 0.902 SV%
Ben Scrivens Oiler 8-15-7, 0.896 SV% 35-45-13, 0.910 SV%
Thomas Greiss UFA 4-2-2, 0.919 SV% 31-26-10, 0.915 SV%
Robin Lehner Trade 6-7-2, 0.900 SV% 27-30-12, 0.915 SV%
Viktor Fasth Oiler 2-10-2, 0.886 SV% 22-21-6, 0.907 SV%
Eddie Lack Trade 3-6-2, 0.912 SV% 19-23-7, 0.912 SV%
Cam Talbot Trade 4-3-1, 0.929 SV% 16-9-2, 0.937 SV%
Petr Mrazek Trade 6-3-1, 0.920 SV% 9-8-1, 0.923 SV%
Philipp Grubauer Trade 11-9-4, 0.922 SV% (AHL) 6-6-5, 0.924 SV%
Andrei Vasilevskiy Trade 3-1-0, 0.937 SV% 3-1-0, 0.937 SV%

The above is a list of potential candidates available in free agency or possibly via trade. The trade candidates are generally listed either because the teams in question have multiple competent goalies or because those players’ names have come up in trade rumours in the not too distant past. I’ve ranked the players on the list by career NHL wins, or save percentage if wins were tied, so as to push the more experienced names to the top. I’ve also included both Oilers goalies for the sake of comparison.

The safest route is obviously to go with an uber-experienced starter – Antti Niemi via free agency or Craig Anderson in trade with Ottawa being the two who stand out to me. I suspect those are the guys Oilers fans would be most comfortable with, and I’d be fine with either provided the cost on Anderson wasn’t too high (though I expect that it would be).

Failing that, James Reimer and Michal Neuvirth have both been around for a while and carried the load a bit and would bring longer track records to Edmonton than either of this year’s goalies. Neither is really a bona fide, guaranteed starter at the moment but both have good points.

Then there’s the choice of gambling on a guy with roughly Scrivens’ level of experience. Anton Khudobin and Thomas Greiss appeal to me to a degree, though of course neither has been around long enough to be a totally safe bet.

Finally, there’s always the possibility that Edmonton really swings for the fences. Petr Mrazek and Andrei Vasilevskiy are both fascinating prospects playing behind established starters with long-term deals; neither Detroit nor Tampa Bay has any pressing reason to make a trade right now so I imagine it would be a tough sell but it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

Chime in below with your preferred take, and feel free to bring up any candidates I may have missed or voice your disagreement with my expectation of Scrivens-plus. 

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  • Niemi is the best name on the list, but he’s a bit older than the cluster and we’d likely need to overpay both cash and years to get him.

    We need a clear cut #1, and at this point there’s nobody on the roster or in the system (jury’s still out on Broissoit) that can be that guy.

    Goalie trades rarely work out, but that would be the best idea to solidify the position so we can get to the postseason before the newness wears off the new arena.

    Khudobin is the best name on the list, but even he’s still a risk to plug into a #1 job and run with it. I’d prefer going after an established #1 goalie on a team that wants to or needs to dump salary.

    Defense is easier. Buy out Nikitin, find a taker for Ference who he’ll waive his NTC for (Bruins?). Then sign one more guy like Fayne and make the big blockbuster deal to land a true #1 defenseman, like we did in the Pronger trade.

  • S cottV

    Attract a coach along the lines of Hitchcock or Trotts, to implement a goalie friendly system of play.

    No great goaltender with any choice, is going to want to play for the Oilers, with the present style of play.

    Bring some sanity and stability into the way we play – cutting down shots against and scoring chances.

    When the Oilers start to look like they are finding their way out of the deep dark forest, maybe – a great goaltender will want to play here.

    Then again – we might just find that the goaltending wasn’t the problem at all.

  • Willis – wish you’d have Scott Darling on your list for the Goaltending, he should be the #1 goalie on the Oilers list, looks like he’s the next Ben Bishop, the stud 3rd stringer that no one pays any attention too, and some other astute GM will pick him up for next to nothing

  • Armchair_Gm

    I’m going after vasilevski if I’m Craig mctavish. Been a stud.for the Russian team since he was 15, has great size, has been developing for a few years so bes probably a year away from taking full time job. Have him backup scrivens next year.

    Tampa bay likes him but they have bishop who’s under contract and just entering his prime. I bet for fasth, and klefbom and a pick you could grab him. Tampa stacked at forward so I could see them wanting a dman maybe Petry buts hes ufa so I don’t see him having the same value as a rental