One of the Edmonton Oilers’ secondary needs this summer is
in net. Cam Talbot was acquired last season to be the team’s starting goalie,
and he did a good enough job that Edmonton signed him to a multi-year extension.
However the backup position, currently held by Laurent Brossoit, is clearly up for grabs and there are a
number of free agents worth consideration from the Oilers.
In this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday, we
ask who Edmonton should be looking at.
Numbers for contract information and HockeyAnalysis for statistical
details, I was able to compile a list of pending free agent goaltenders, along with
some key information on the play of each. Age is as of July 1, 2016, and all
statistics (ice-time and save percentage) are from 5-on-5 situations only. Cam
Talbot is listed for comparison purposes only.
One quick note: I have excluded AHL players for obvious
reasons, though of course it’s possible that the Oilers would consider someone
Smith, a strong minor-leaguer with ties to Peter Chiarelli. I also excluded
NHL’ers who had signed in Europe. Anton Khudobin is on this list, but is likely to head
to the KHL at some point this summer.
I’ve presented these players in order of average 5-on-5 save
percentage over the last four seasons, and the list of plausible candidates is
short enough that we can consider them individually.
There are three names that have clearly separated themselves
from the rest of the list:
- James Reimer is the top goalie on the market this summer,
and as such seems an unlikely fit in Edmonton. There are a few teams in need of
a new starter and Reimer is a plausible candidate for one of those jobs.
- Chad Johnson doesn’t get enough respect. He’s big, he’s
reasonably young and he has a fine track record. He also has ties to Chiarelli,
having previously played in Boston, and is an excellent candidate for the
backup job in Edmonton. His experience in Buffalo this year should have
adequately prepared him for the task of playing behind the Oilers defence, and
his ability to fill-in as starter for a stretch is a plus.
- Jhonas Enroth’s name often comes up, and for good reason. He’s
undersized, but he’s young and at the right price-point would be a good fit
with the Oilers. Like both Reimer and Johnson, he has history performing well
for poor NHL teams.
After those three, what I would define as the second tier
includes seven names:
- Anton Khudobin is another player with ties to Chiarelli from
Boston, but one would imagine he’s worth more as a KHL starter than an NHL
- Jeff Zatkoff is likely to be one of the cheapest names on
this list, and as a pure backup he’s not a bad option. He’s reasonably big,
reasonably young and has been a reasonably strong AHL’er when not in the
- Karri Ramo would be a good fit, but he got a fairly hefty
contract last year and he’s just not worth that kind of money. His numbers
suggest that he’s a pure backup but he seems to be regarded as a 1A/1B goalie.
I’d consider circling back to him late in free agency if the price is right, he’s
still looking for work and the Oilers are still looking for a goalie.
- Al Montoya and Carter Hutton have extremely similar profiles.
Both have pure backup-type numbers over the last four years in 3300-odd minutes,
and both are coming off very strong performances in 2015-16. I weight the
long-term record heavily and would note that both played for conservative
clubs, so I would only consider these players as options if they came cheap.
- Ben Scrivens is an obvious non-starter for Edmonton.
- Cam Ward is a famous player and I’d bet he gets more money
than his performance would dictate he’s actually worth, so I’d pass.
The final tier consists of players whose four-year numbers
suggest they shouldn’t be seriously considered. Alex Stalock is small, imploded
this year and has a decidedly mediocre four-year record. Jonas Gustavsson and Anders
Lindback have spent most of their careers disappointing general managers.
Niklas Backstrom seems to have passed his best before date. None of these
players should be candidates for Edmonton.
In Peter Chiarelli’s shoes, what would you do? Would you
sign one of the above players, lean on prospect Laurent Brossoit, acquire an
AHL or European goalie or trade for a suitable backup?