If you head to NHL Numbers and scroll down to the bottom of the Oilers list of contracts, you’ll notice that the team has a lot of goalies under contract.
Cam Talbot, Mikko Koskinen, and Al Montoya have NHL deals for next season while Laurent Brossoit is will become an unrestricted free agent. Below them, Nick Ellis, Stuart Skinner, Dylan Wells, and Shane Starrett will battle it out for minor league jobs.
If you lost count, that’s eight goalies who could potentially be in the Oilers organization next year. That’s about two too many, so how will things be resolved?
Well, the easiest answer is that Laurent Brossoit won’t be re-signed and will become a UFA. After five seasons in the Oilers organization, Brossoit never took the next step to become a bonafide NHLer, so it makes sense for the Oilers ties with the Port Alberni, BC native.
If Brossoit is indeed gone, there’s still a bit of a logjam in the Oilers system with seven goalies competing for six jobs (a starter and backup at the NHL, AHL, and ECHL level).
There isn’t much of a goalie controversy at the NHL level. Cam Talbot is locked in as the starter, while Mikko Koskinen and his $2.5 million cap hit appears to be locked in as the team’s backup.
Al Montoya could be sent down to the minors and with a cap hit of just $1.125 million, it would cost the Oilers around 100k against the cap, that’s really nothing in the grand scheme of things. Sending him down is a very logical option.
If the Oilers do send down Montoya, he would have to clear waivers, but it might be nice to have him waiting as a good insurance policy in case one of Talbot of Koskinen gets hurt.
At the same time, having a 33-year-old Montoya in the minors only takes away an opportunity from one of the youngsters, and they have enough youngsters to fill the jobs.
Nick Ellis already has two years of pro experience, but took a big step back this past season. In his rookie season, he posted great numbers in the AHL. A 2.69 GAA and a 0.918 SV% had Oilers fans wondering if he was the goalie of the future. This year, those numbers dropped to 3.21 and 0.898 respectively.
Regardless of the poor numbers, I still think Ellis will begin next season as the starter in Bakersfield.
23-year-old Shane Starrett is coming off his first pro season which saw him play 38 games with Wichita in the ECHL. He posted a GAA just a hair over 3.00 and a SV % of 0.912.
A strong rookie campaign, but Starrett will have some tough competition joining the organization next year and with youngsters like Wells and Skinner both making the jump to pro, Starrett likely won’t be a very high priority.
I believe Skinner will be given the best opportunity. He’s currently on an incredible run with Swift Current where he posted six shutouts during the WHL Playoffs, including a clean sheet in the championship-clinching game.
I’m not sure if he should be considered an elite goaltending prospect just yet, but he’s got the highest potential of any Oilers prospect between the pipes and the Oilers to prioritize his development.
Dylan Wells is coming up from the CHL as well but did not have a great final year with the Peterborough Petes. His 3.62 GAA and 0.896 SV% are not what you’d expect from a 20-year-old junior goalie, but the Petes were awful this year and gave up the third most goals in the OHL, so you should consider that when looking at Wells’ numbers.
It will be interesting to see how the Oilers handle things. Here’s my best guess:
Cam Talbot and Mikko Koskinen will be the duo up in the NHL and I believe Al Montoya will be dealt to free up more playing time for the young goalies in the minors.
In the AHL, I think it’s safe to assume Nick Ellis will begin the year as the starter in the AHL with Shane Starrett backing him up.
The reason I think Starrett will go up to the AHL is that I believe the organization will want to leave more playing time for Dylan Wells and Stuart Skinner and it’s probably best for each of those guys to start in the ECHL and battle it out for playing time.
Things can always change before the season starts, obviously, and even as the year goes, I could see the Oilers move players between Bakersfield and their ECHL affiliate, the Wichita Thunder.
The Oilers have some intriguing options at all levels between the pipes, it will be interesting to see how they deploy their young stoppers.