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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Goalie Targets: Free Agents and Trades

The Edmonton Oilers need help in goal. Mikko Koskinen is paid like a starter but his glove hand is as reliable as Peter Chiarelli’s general manager abilities. Koskinen only has 59 career games played in the NHL and a .906 save percentage in 2018-19. It’s unfortunate Koskinen is paid $4.5 million per year, but the Oilers will need a significant backup goaltender to cover for Koskinen.

Oilers general manager Ken Holland mentioned he will probably get a goalie after July 1st, but there isn’t a whole lot of quality goalies available in free agency.

Free Agency

Robin Lehner and Sergei Bobrovsky will get the most attention. It’s extremely unlikely either come to Edmonton. After Lehner and Bobrovsky, Petr Mrazek, Curtis McElhinney, Semyon Varlamov, and Anthony Stolarz are the only free agents with a save percentage above .900.

Cam Ward hasn’t been good in ages. Cam Talbot isn’t returning to Edmonton, but maybe Calgary.

The Oilers didn’t play Stolarz the required amount of starts to retain him as a restricted free agent, so he’s clearly not in the cards.

Varlamov has been linked to the Oilers, although he reportedly wants quite a bit.

Mrazek has the obvious connection to Ken Holland. Mrazek looked like the next great goaltender in Detroit, but fell off in 2016-17. He recovered in Carolina, saving .914 of his shots faced. He remains unsigned and I’d be curious what he’s looking for. It’s hard to see him breaking the bank after one solid season, but Mrazek is only 27. Mrazek could bring stability to the Oilers goaltending situation. He could also sink behind a significantly worse blueline. The Hurricanes had a stacked defence, which probably made it easier on Mrazek.

Mike Smith is another option the Oilers have spoken to. Smith has previously played for Tippet in Arizona and Dallas. After save percentages of .916, .914, and .916, Smith fell off and had a .898 save percentage with Calgary last season. He turned it around in the playoffs, sporting a .917 save percentage in five games, but no team should sign a player based on five games. Maybe Smith can rebound under Tippet. Or maybe this is the beginning of the end for a 37-year-old goaltender.

Keith Kinkaid’s been a decent starter in place of Corey Schneider, but last season was his worst in the NHL. He did have two seasons with a .914 and .916 prior to last season and won’t cost a lot.

Calvin Pickard was once in demand, but betting on him after his play in Philadelphia and Arizona last season would be unwise.

Trade

Free agency doesn’t have a lot of quality options. What about a trade?

The Sergei Bobrovsky sweepstakes may lead to some trades. Bobrovsky has been heavily linked to the Panthers, and Roberto Luongo retiring this week adds fuel to the fire. The Islanders are interested in Bobrovsky as well. Would the Islanders trade Thomas Greiss. Greiss makes just $3.33 million and had a .927 save percentage in 43 games last season.

James Reimer makes $3.4 million and is available. Reimer’s .900 save percentage last year isn’t exciting, but he’s been good in the past. Reimer carries another year on his contract.

Anton Khudobin was excellent for Dallas when Ben Bishop got hurt. Khudobin has one year left on his contract at $2.5 million. The Stars might want Khudobin as insurance in case Bishop goes down again.

Jaroslav Halak was another goaltender who excelled with Tuukka Rask either hurt or in a slump. Boston, like Dallas, may hold onto Halak for those reasons, but they have to sign Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen.

Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith would be another target of mine, but Matt Murray’s injury troubles mean that’s unlikely.

St. Louis is going to take of Jordan Binnington after he won them a Stanley Cup, but Jake Allen is still there with two more seasons at $4.35 million per year. Allen’s been mediocre the past couple seasons, but maybe he rebounds with a lighter workload? Salary would have to go back St. Louis’ way to make it work.

Holland signed Jonathan Bernier to a three-year deal in Detroit last summer. Bernier’s .904 save percentage wasn’t good, but he’s put up nice seasons for Anaheim, Colorado, and Toronto in the past.

Los Angeles has made a habit of trading Jonathan Quick’s backups for useful assets. Jack Campbell was very good in 31 games for the Kings last season. His .928 save percentage was significantly better than Quick’s .888. The Kings moved Darcy Kuemper to Arizona, so they don’t mind dealing within the division.

Holland sounds like he’s after a veteran guy, but a younger less-proven goaltender could be the answer, just look at Binnington’s performance in the playoffs. Both Tristan Jarry and Eric Comrie require waivers next season and are blocked by clear starters in Matt Murray and Connor Hellebuyck.

The Jets took a chance of Laurent Brossoit last season and he provided a lot of value on a $650K contract. The Oilers could find similar value with inexperienced netminders.

I’d be interested in Mrazek or McElhinney on a short-term deal, otherwise, I’d go the trade route. Greiss, Campbell, Halak, Khudobin, and even Jarry or Comrie, are more interesting to me than most of the free-agent goalies available.

Follow me on Twitter: @chrispagnani.

THIRD ANNUAL OILERSNATION OPEN

After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.

  • When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday)
  • Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
  • How much – $1000/team or get in on the $900 Early Bird price until July 10th
  • Teams – Groups of Four (4)
  • How – Book your team here

As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.



        • HOCKEY83

          I’d like to see the Flames give Talbot a chance. He plays very well behind good defensive corps. The great year he had in edmonton was one of the few years over the last 4 seasons Sekera, Klefbom and Larsson all played full seasons. I wouldn’t wish Smith on any team in the NHL. Or any goalie 36 years and older for that matter. Hopefully with the oilers defensive corps coming into this season healthy the physical battle of Alberta can get back on track and both Alberta teams can make the playoffs rather than this ridiculous name calling battle. The Phlegms, Lames…The Coilers, Soilers….childish.

      • wiseguy

        It’s the self declared “best defence in the NHL” with the reigning Norris trophy winner. McKinnon cutting through them like a hot knife through butter must’ve just been a mirage.

  • ed from edmonton

    I have stated a few times that the Koskinen signing is proving to be the most debilitating move of the PC era. The Lucic situation is a problem, but Lucic can be hidden as an overpaid 4th liner. Inadequate goaltending and the team is toast. The OIl must get a gaolie that has a chance of being better than Koskinnen and cannot look at this as getting a back for Koskinnen. Only Varlamov and Mazurek are options and the OIl have to pay what it takes. This will require that Oil either do a trade/dump of Russel or Sekera or buy out Sekera.

    • CMG30

      I may quibble with you over who is actually more of an anchor but you’re not wrong these were two boneheaded moves. The hope with Koskinen is that he has at least shown the ability to be a solid NHL ‘tender. The issues again comes down to consistency. We need a solid goal tender for 82 games not 41.

  • Nanook

    It doesn’t matter who we get. Once Shwartz gets his hands on him he will regress to the point of struggling to find ahl work. At what point do you finally look at the coaching staff when every goalie you sign gets perpetually worse every year under this guys coaching. Lets put a guy in there that couldn’t even manage to get to the nhl successfully and have him show successful goaltenders how to play…… until this is changed I have no hope for any goalies we aquire no matter how promising they look

      • Reg Dunlop

        I understand why Kevin Lowe is untouchable but Schwartz and Howson? I just don’t get it. Howson has zero ties to the Oil yet he goes from being $hit-canned in Columbus to a month later becoming a pro scout and then a month later becoming senior VP of hockey ops in Edmonton. Schwartz goes from science teacher at Vimy Ridge academy to destroyer of Oiler goalies. It’s like the mystery of the Nazca lines, aliens have to be involved.

  • joilers

    Landing Mrazek should be priority 1 for the Oilers. Hopefully the connection to Holland will give them a leg up. His stats are solid and he is in his prime. Running Mrazek for 50 and Koskinen for 30 should be solid enough…. Koskinen is a wildcard though. It would be a significant upgrade though.

  • joilers

    That picture of Lucic is da bomb. Even though his game has fallen off a cliff the last couple of years…. He is as crazy and intimidating as ever. Mike Smith is lucky he plays with his eyes closed.

    • HOCKEY83

      He may have fallen off but he plays 4 less minutes a night with lesser players from the years he was originally signed for that amount and even his first year as oiler…what do you expect. At least he still crushes people. 256 hits in 79 games…that’s awesome. I’d rather have a player trying to do something like that to make up for the lack of production than the garbage game that Neal brings to the table for his money.

  • Ken Holland

    We need Varlamov or Mrazek. If we solidify the goaltending, we have a shot at the playoffs.

    The ability to roll with the hot goalie for long stretches would allow for some extended win streaks.

  • Axe

    I am definitely in agreement with most folks on here that we need a strong 1B to push koskinen and that his contract was regrettable (premature and too much money even one year too long) .. However in regards to koskinen could his troubles be partly due to being over worked down the stretch especially since this was his first full NHL season? And is the media exaggerating his glove hand troubles?? I don’t know the answer to these questions but I do believe they are fair questions to be asked.

    • cityofchampions

      I agree, I think too much is being made of how “terrible” Koskinen is. I will still say that Chai won his bet and that it was a decent 1 year signing for $2.5M (overall he earned that contract by showing himself a better than average backup/low-end starter), and it was his first year in the NHL and I think he did get tired over the last month and I think there is at least some hope that he can improve – unlike most on this “doom and gloom” site. This is not to say that the Koskinen contract extension wasn’t idiotic…it should have been no more than $3M for 2-3 years, but at this point it is what it is. Bring in someone to run a 1A-1B combo in net and have Tippett go with the hot hand until one of them takes the No. 1 job. I guess where I differ from most here is that I think it is not completely outside the realm of possibility that Koskinen can push for and perhaps win the No. 1 job. Again, its more hate the contract than hate the player…too often people here can’t separate the two. The contract isn’t the player’s fault…that’s all on management.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        I still say a different goalie coach would have helped Koskinens game. If I am Holland I would have gotten on the phone with Koskinen and his agent and found someone to work with Koskinenin the off season not named Schwartz to help him with his game. Varmolov and Marazek would be nice, but tehre price points are not going to fit with the Oilers cap issues. The Oilers need t look for someone like Binnington was that is younger and hungey and has something to prove. Reimer I would not trade for he is on the verge of being bought out, Darling is also being bough out. The Oilers could go offer a 1 mil show me contract to one of them if they were desperate, but I would look elese where first to find someone who has something to prove. Having the defensive system shored up will certainly help under Tippett. The Oilers need to do some searching for a goalie before they jump into the pool of signing anyone, and right now I dont see Varmolov or Marzek coming cheap