WWYDW: How much money should the Oilers spend in net?

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In recent weeks on this site, we’ve turned significant attention to the Edmonton Oilers’ salary cap situation, which while reasonable hardly provides the team with unlimited flexibility. Some of that money will be used to bolster the club’s inadequate netminding. The question in this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday is how much of the Oilers’ finite cap space should be spent on a goalie or goalies.

Free Agency

Antti Niemi2

We’ve previously covered the NHL free agent goalie situation in some depth, but the short version is this: Assuming that the Minnesota Wild re-sign Devan Dubnyk, there are basically three openings available for any of the free agents who want to be starters. Buffalo, Edmonton and San Jose are all in need of new No. 1 goalies.

Antti Niemi (current cap hit $3.8 million) is the most established of the front-runners and will likely take one of those three jobs, though he lacks ideal leverage and thus may see his salary come in lower than many projections indicate. Assuming that the Sharks aren’t interested, he needs to hope that both the Oilers and Sabres are or he’ll be in the unfortunate position of having only one bidder who can offer him a No. 1 job.

The remaining free agents (notables include Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth and Karri Ramo) will be competing with each other and the trade options available for the two remaining jobs. None should be able to command serious money and all may eventually be forced to settle for backup work. Enroth is coming off a deal with a $1.25 million cap hit, while Neuvirth ($2.5 million) and Ramo ($2.75 million) were more expensive.

Trade

Eddie Lack

The Oilers’ other option is trade. The downside is that this will cost the team some sort of asset in exchange, but the opportunity exists to land either a more proven goalie or in some cases a much cheaper one than what Edmonton can expect to find in free agency. A list of some goalies who have been suggested as potentially being available in trade follows:

  • Corey Crawford, Chicago, $6.0 million
  • Jimmy Howard, Detroit, $5.29 million
  • Craig Anderson, Ottawa, $4.2 million
  • Jonathan Bernier, Toronto, RFA (previously $2.9 million)
  • James Reimer, Toronto, $2.3 million
  • Robin Lehner, Ottawa, $2.23 million
  • Cam Talbot, New York, $1.45 million
  • Eddie Lack, Vancouver, $1.15 million
  • Martin Jones, Los Angeles, RFA (previously $550,000)

Managing the Cap

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Ben Scrivens (barring trade) will occupy one of the two spots on Edmonton’s NHL depth chart, and a bounce-back year should not be ruled out. Scrivens should provide competent backup goaltending and perhaps even challenge the Oilers’ starter for minutes. He’s in the final season of a deal that pays him $2.3 million per year.

Assuming no trades, buyouts and with a fully populated roster the Oilers have about $4.6 million in cap space for next season at the moment. We can subtract Laurent Brossoit’s $925,000 from the equation (as he’ll be in the minors, displaced by Edmonton’s new goalie) leaving a maximum of $5.5 million or so to spend before the team needs to make cuts elsewhere to accommodate salary.

How much of that should the Oilers spend on goaltending and who should they be targeting?

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • Johnnydapunk

    I think it will depend on what happens with the defence and the direction the Oil wish to take. The Habs failure in the playoffs showed that even lights out goaltending doesn’t solve everything. They may have gotten further because of his play, but he can only do so much.

    It’s a tough call though, if the Oil can get their defence sorted, then you don’t need a stellar lights out goalie on big money, just someone stable who stops what should be stopped. The Oil don’t have that currently with Scrivens.

    If they can package him up to free some capspace and have a bit more flexibility with signing and sorting Defencemen, then they may be alright. I just don’t see Scrivens as capable though again if the defence is sorted, he may be good for 25 games ish.

    Dunno if we were going all “Playstation” maybe see what it would take to get Holtby or the rights to sign him as he is RFA but put in crazy minutes and has been pretty solid. The Caps may be up against the cap as well since they have a few UFA’s that need signing.

    Whatever happens for once I actually have faith that the Oil may make a correct decison, it’s a weird feeling thinking that.

  • STR8 SHOOTER

    Quicksilver ballet wrote:
    Aren’t we putting the cart before the horse here. The blueline should be fixed first. Once they find a couple near half a game types to stop the bleeding they would be fine with Talbot and Brossiot. 2.5 in total would work wonders behind a decent set of blueliners. Spending 6 on Crawford or 5 on Neimi would be a terrible waste of money till the back end is fixed first.

    I like Quicksilver thinking.

    Leon for 1 proven D

    • hagar

      Quicksilver, you are all for losing every game in-spite of pride of or signs of improvement, yet you are now looking for changes..?

      Now that you have your number one overall pick… AAAGAAAINN! why are you so worried about the defence?

      Surely you thought all we needed to become a good team was getting Mcdavid??

      • Quicksilver ballet

        The days for hoping the Oilers lose are at an end, now that they’ve landed McDavid followed up by totally neutering Lowe and MacTavish. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Draisaitl, I would have much rather seen them select Bennett. We rarely get everything we want anyways. I wish Leon nothing but the best as he plays perhaps 40 games on the wing this coming season.

        The 3 glaring weaknesses that long still remain are undeniably the top 2 blueliners, along with a Cam Talbot in goal. That would go along way to leading this team back to the post season again. Mcdavid, along with Provorov (very doable) would be a beyond our wildest dreams draft. Part of me wants to see them make all 8 selections in the first 4 rounds of the coming draft. The other part realizes half of those selections could be moved if the are able to plug some of those glaring holes.

  • STR8 SHOOTER

    Quicksilver ballet wrote:
    Aren’t we putting the cart before the horse here. The blueline should be fixed first. Once they find a couple near half a game types to stop the bleeding they would be fine with Talbot and Brossiot. 2.5 in total would work wonders behind a decent set of blueliners. Spending 6 on Crawford or 5 on Neimi would be a terrible waste of money till the back end is fixed first.

    I like Quicksilver thinking.

    Leon for 1 proven D

  • hagar

    Too many Hindsight masters on this site. Very few with the balls to say what needs to be done.

    Check this out.. I will create a post that would get 130 thumbs up if it wasn’t attached to this one..

    “Happy Mcdavid wednesday!”

  • hagar

    Reliable and steady goaltending is absolutely essential at any level. Cost for that asset is secondary to who the Oil can acquire to fill that glaring shortcoming in their line-up. How many times have I seen the whole team sag over the last few seasons when Dubs or Scrivens have let in another killer goal early/late in a period or when a bad goal has stifled a comeback. Pay what it takes to get it done.

    The next line of defence he will have to revamp will be the D. One thing at a time I guess.

    The price could be free agent dollars or a player(s) going the other way. I’m glad to hear Chiarelli’s comments on player acquisitions. We finally have a GM who has his hands on the wheel, rather than a bleating, whining do-nothing GM who does nothing but make mistakes when he does move. The Jultz for Rychel suggestion sounds good to me.

  • OtOil

    Its time for Oil fans to start celebrating the the positives, and leaving the not so positive things alone.

    100% fact: the only thing our goalie situation needs is more wins.

  • El Pindo

    My top choices would be Enroth and Lack! And my first choice would be to have them both. I think we’ve all seen enough of Lack in those Nucks games to like his battle and what he brings. Enroth played quite well for the Sabres considering the team they have, to the point that the team apparently dumped him because he was ruining their deliberate no honor for Connor crash. And neither of these would be very costly, keeping some good $ to start fixing issue #1 our D.
    But I’d be interested in finding out about Talbot and Ramo keeping in mind though they are young unknowns with good looking upside right now.
    I don’t think Bernier is really in play but I try to avoid Leaf propaganda(TSN etc) anyway, I also don’t believe that he really would offer the team much more if any than Enroth and Lack, and would cost more.

  • OtOil

    Until we don’t have decent d-line, we can’t say nothing about our goalies. Dubnyk lessons prove that’s to early to talk about this. With good d-line even Fasth can show his best. Offence win games, defence win championships

  • OtOil

    Anderson Is the first choice, then a younger goalie, in order

    Talbot, Lack, Vasilevskiy, Jones

    Millar and a 2016 second round for Anderson
    Scriven (we retain $1.1M of salary) for Talbot, if he resigns an addition 3rd round

    Anderson gives us a true starter until LB can play a bigger role in the NHL. The young goalies listed above have a very small sample size for it hard to say what will get.

    • OtOil

      I’m sorry, are you suggesting we trade 1 year of Scrivens for 1 year of Talbot? And we retain salary so that their cap hits are roughly equal?

      Why would the Rangers do that?

      Here, we will trade you one of the top 5 worst goalies in the league last year for one of the top 5 best goalies in the league last year. They are both around the same age and their cap hits are the same… interested?

  • OtOil

    Will any of the goalies available do any better than Scrivens under conditions he played under last season ? I’m not sold they would . Therefore , I would prefer a younger long term goalie with some experience to fill in the vacancy such as Neuvirth or Bernier . Perhaps even Ramo or Talbot. If we are going to be super competitive this year then perhaps Crawford , Howard or Niemi would be preferable . We are not paying much for goalies anyways , and results show likewise .

    • TKB2677

      The Oilers defense was bad, no debating that but you can’t excuse the play of Scrivens and Fasth. Scrivens had a 0.890%. That’s not NHL caliber goaltending what so ever. That’s a one way ticket to the minors. Enroth, who played on Buffalo for a good chunk of the year and Buffalo was god awful, had a save percent of .903 when he was in Buffalo. The Sabres did everything they could to tank the season and Enroth still managed over .900. How Scrivens played last season is flat out embarrassing.

      • SSB1963

        And yet when Scrivens was in Los Angeles as a backup his stats were out of this world. I would say that the defensive side of our game had as much to do with his SV% as he did.

  • TKB2677

    For a goalie, I am really nervous about rolling the dice with another unproven back up. I like the idea of getting a young, cheap guy that will burst onto the scene once he gets out behind the main guy they are behind. But it failed miserably with the Scrivens/Fasth combo and for the record, I was in favor of the Oilers running with those 2 guys last year because in theory, it should have worked. Having 2 decent goalies fighting for the crease should have resulted in each guy giving them their best. Instead, they both crumbled at once.

    I worry about Talbot and Jones. They are 2 guys that play on a good team, that plays a defensive style with a good defense in front of them. Scrivens came from LA where he has amazing numbers. So I wonder how much Talbot and Jones numbers are inflated given the team they play for.

    Crawford and Howard make too much money. If you are making over 5 and 6 mill, you better be considered elite. Both those guys aren’t in the elite class.

  • TKB2677

    The Wild are in a tough spot when it comes to Dubnyk. They pretty much have to resign Dubnyk based on what he did for them and him being nominated for a vezina. They made the playoffs due to him alone. They will also end up paying him more than they should because of what he did for the team, his insane regular season numbers and his vezina nomination. Unfortunately, they are going to be signing the goalie that was in the playoffs, not the regular season. What Dubnyk did in the playoffs is a reflection of the goalie he is. A middle of the pack goalie that hovers around .910.

    His number with the Wild during the regular season were 0.936 and 1.78. In the playoffs they where .908 and 2.52. So he dropped almost 30 points in percentage and gave up almost a goal more per game. In Arizona before the trade, he was .916 and 2.72. Which is basically his career average.

    I’m not saying he’s junk, he’s a solid, middle of the pack guy but what he did in Minnie for the regular season was a fluke.

    • El Pindo

      I agree, he’s no Rinne/Lundy, he’s average enough to be useful to a solid team at the right price, but he will definitely get overpaid

      Also, totally not sold on Crawford/Howard yet either, really hope we don’t go chasing after one of them they’re making too much

      • Crawford’s contract is disgusting, but the numbers at war-on-ice suggest he’s elite when it comes to stopping high quality scoring chances.

        While the hawks produce an insane amount of shots/game they also give up more high quality shots/game than most teams and were just barely ahead of Edm in this regard.

        If Chi retains salary, I’d like him over Niemi.

  • TKB2677

    For what’s available I wouldnt pay very much. There’s nothing great out there and not many teams looking. Get Niemi if you can get him cheap and short term, or one of the younger guys you hope will break out like Talbot or Jones but dont trade too much for them.

    Goaltending is tough because you desperately need it but you cant fool yourself into thinking an adequate guy is more than just that. Most teams have adequate goaltending and not much better.

  • TKB2677

    One of the Ottawa goalies makes the most sense to me. They just signed Hammond to a 3-year deal so he’s not going anywhere, and they have the college kid in the minors they also just signed. That leaves Anderson or Lehner as excess baggage.

    Lehner has had a couple of sub-par seasons while battling injuries, but is only 23 and has been highly touted for some time now. He’s got this year and next left on his contract (cap hit = $2.25MM)

    Anderson also battled injuries this year but his numbers were much better than Lehners, and have in fact been stellar since he went to Ottawa. Downside: he’s 34 and he’s got 3 years left at a $4.2MM cap hit. If we only have $5.5MM to spend that doesn’t leave us anything to try to sign a UFA d-man (unless Chia buys out Nikitin or makes some other moves, which I really, really hope he does). Also if I’m Ottawa I’m not sure I’m comfortable rolling with the Hamburglar with no safety net – anybody remember Jim Carrey?

    If its me I roll the dice on Lehner. I know that we’ve all had enough of hope, but there’s a player in there. He actually had slightly better stats than Anderson 2 years ago, his youth fits with our program, and you’re not committing much by way of term nor dollars. And I’m guessing Ottawa doesn’t need much to pry him loose (e.g., a 2nd or 3rd rounder).

    All of that said, I’d be very interested to know McLellan’s thoughts on Niemi. If he’s be comfortable with him then he probably makes the most sense as a seasoned veteran. The trick will be dollars.

  • Johnnydapunk

    Talbot is our guy for 4 reasons. 1) Salary flexibility (prove it contract) 2) Rangers were playing awful whilst the King was out and Talbot won them games – he is the real deal! 3)Age 4) Rangers would be fine with Skapski playing second fiddle.

  • OILFANMEXICO

    Any one of Craig Anderson or Toronto’s goalies should be a safe bet to at the very least match Ben Scrivens performance last season and step it up a bit.

  • OILFANMEXICO

    Simple really, would you rather pay top dollar for legit #1 goalie and see our shots on goal skyrocket and never get that quick pass out of our zone up to our star forwards. OR Have One legit #1 Defenseman, who can lower our shots on goal, as well as make that one pass to our star forwards? No brainer for me, you need defence because having the opponent getting numerous chances on net is dangerous and a #1 goalie isn’t going to pass the puck up to McDavid and the boys.

    • OILFANMEXICO

      To add, it frustrates me seeing your top line chasing the puck in our own end shift after shift. No goals means no chances of wins, shore up our defence first please!

  • Still an Oiler Fan

    More issues on the back end here than just the goalie to address:

    Get an NHL caliber goalie coach, and sign 1 or 2 top end d-men, then worry about a goalie…

    But if Anderson or Ramo can be had for a reasonable price-then I would consider.

  • STR8 SHOOTER

    need 2 D. and a 90% save percentage is minimum standard for NHL goalie. get a consistent goalie. Neimi ?

    Look what happened to Price in playoffs. D saves the game.

    McDavid wins the game

    Happy McDavid Day!!!

  • CMG30

    We need a solid proven #1 goalie. He doesn’t have to set the league on fire, he just has to consistently stop the shots he should be stopping.

    Chase Nemi for ~4mill, keep Scrivens as backup and hope he has a bounceback year. Goaltending solved, now focus on the D.

  • Tikkanese

    Given the UFA names available for both G and D, save the trade chips to acquire top pairing D and sign the 1(Niemi) or 1a(Enroth, Neuvirth, Ramo) starting goalie(has Ramo even proved he can be a 1a yet?).

    The best UFA D are either too close to being over the hill(Beauchemin) or haven’t been top pairing D in some time, if ever(Green, Martin etc). Being a weak UFA D year, they will all probably be way overpaid as well.

    Unfortunately not a lot of cap room. I’m not sure it is even wise to buy anybody out as that will affect future caps as well.

    Without some magical cap trades, I don’t think the Oilers can add both a starting goalie and at least one top pairing D, let alone two top pairing D.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    I would like to see the Oilers get Niemi, and if they can’t, maybe take a look at Cam Ward, but only if Carolina will take back a good portion of his salary. Both would give the Oilers a solid starter until LB is ready. Whoever they get, a couple of defenseman will also need to be added on top of that.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    These guys need a goalie who can battle when the game gets down to the nitty gritty. We haven’t seen anyone in this team who makes the other team pay when they run our guys. We haven’t see a whole lot of nasty crease cleaners in ages here in Oil Country. I’m all for getting a guy like Niemi here, it makes more sense to have a legit guy here. Start developing a meaner more nastier place for opposing forwards to not want to go.

  • Johnnydapunk

    I’m still thinking more and more that Chiarelli should see what it would take to get Holtby. He is an RFA, but perhaps a trade for his rights as they have a lot of players to sign and not a lot of cap space to sign them. Not sure what he would cost for his rights, but he is good for heavy minutes, faced a lot of shots and is young enough to grow with the team.

    Couldn’t hurt to try at least.