If the Oilers are going to get back on track next season the to-do list is a long one.
Hire a new General Manager and/or a President of Hockey Operations.
Find a new Head Coach.
Clear cap space.
Address a lack of scoring on the wings.
Possibly find a right shot offensive d-man.
The problem I’m seeing is that even if they fix all of those issues, they still might not have the goaltending to get the job done.
We know Mikko Koskinen will be here next season but if they are going to have success, I think they need someone that can, at the very least, push him for the job. Koskinen has had an up and down first year with the Oilers and in a perfect world, the team would still be evaluating what they have. Instead, they signed him to a three-year deal worth $13.5 million dollars. The timing of that contract will never, ever, ever make sense to me or anyone else for that matter. However, the extension has been signed, and as bad as it was, there is nothing you can do about it now.
The big Finn has been left hung out to dry on numerous occasions by the team in front of him and has still managed to look brilliant at times. With that said, soft goals are happening far too often for a goaltender that will make $4,500,000 per season for the next three years. Goals like this one are the reason I don’t have faith in Koskinen’s ability to carry a team to the playoffs.
Among goaltenders who have played at least 20 games this season, Koskinen ranks 32nd in the league with a .907 save percentage.
WHO WILL HELP?
Stolarz is getting a brief opportunity to prove that he has what it takes to compliment Koskinen. I don’t think he’ll see enough action to be an RFA at the end of the season and that’s not the end of the world. I’m pretty sure teams won’t be lining up to sign Stolarz as a UFA in early July and at this point, the Oilers should take a pass as well.
Starrett has been absolutely outstanding with Bakersfield this season. He has a 2.24 G.A.A. and an equally impressive .920%.
Starrett is by far the Oilers best internal back up option for next year. He doesn’t have a lot of minor league experience over his two years since leaving Air Force but he will be 25-years old by the time camp opens. In a perfect world, the Oilers would bring in a veteran to battle Starrett for the backup job.
This might be the best the Oilers can do. He has a .919 save percentage and 2.51 goals against average with Philly so far this season. At this stage of his career, Elliott shouldn’t command the type of money that will scare the Oilers away.
If Elliott can stay healthy, I could see him outplaying Koskinen next season.
McElhinney will very likely end up on the market but if he can carry the Hurricanes to the post-season, they may possibly give him a new deal. He has a .923 save percentage this season and was at .934 in 18 games with the Leafs last year.
The career backup has signed eight NHL contracts and all of them have been for $850,000 or less.
I think Howard would fit the bill as a guy who could most certainly push Koskinen. The issue with Howard is at this stage of his career I don’t see why he would want to come to Edmonton.
Mrazek will always be an intriguing player simply because of the upside you want to believe he has. He’ll be 27-years old next season so you’d be getting a guy who may have a few good years left.
Kinkaid has had some nice stretches during his career but he has a career save percentage of .906. After being moved prior to the deadline I think he would be more than happy to have a chance to come in and fight for the starters job.
There are a number of other goaltenders who I don’t think will end up being available or have any interest joining the Oilers. Lehner would be crazy to leave the Islanders. Bobrovsky will cost too much. Smith is out of the question. Talbot would be insane to come back. Ward’s best days are well behind him. Neuvirth has been injured and/or brutal this year. Miller isn’t leaving California. Nilsson is just another version of Koskinen. Montoya, JK, LOL, LMFAO.
I’m not sure the Oilers can justify moving assets to address their goaltending when they just gave a goalie $13.5 million bucks over three years. Sooooooooooo………
That’s all I got. I know the Oilers need to somehow improve their goaltending in the off-season but I’m just not sure how it can happen. Please share your brilliant ideas in the comments section.
Previously by Dustin Nielson:
- HOT TAKES – February
- Landing Spots for Chiasson
- Cold Hard Truth
- What’s Next?
- Everything Is Happening