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?
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?
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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