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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers Goaltending Concerns: Smith Out

I don’t have much concern with Mikko Koskinen. He had solid numbers last season, better than many want to believe. He isn’t a proven elite starter, but he was a solid. The one issue is: Can he handle a heavy workload?

We might find out, as Mike Smith wasn’t on the ice again today, and I’m told will be out a few weeks. **( he was placed on LTIR after article was published.)

His absence is a bigger issue after the Oilers lost Anton Forsberg to waivers earlier this week. Stuart Skinner, who has played 47 AHL games and 44 ECHL games, is now the Oiler backup for the time being.

It is not ideal, and while the Oilers don’t play another back-to-back set of games until January 30th and 31st, I don’t think they were expecting to start Koskinen for their first 10 games. I discussed the possibility of the Oilers keeping Forsberg on the 23-man roster and having the extra D-man or forward on the taxi-squad last week. The theory was it would ensure you have three goalies, and if you got into injury issues, then you could easily recall a forward or defender from the taxi-squad.

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The Oilers opted to keep William Lagesson and expose Forsberg and Carolina claimed him. They only kept him on the roster for two days, before putting him back on waivers, and the Winnipeg Jets claimed him this morning. The Jets have to keep three goalies on the roster, or waive him or Laurent Brossoit in the coming days. Something to monitor.

Today the Los Angeles Kings placed Troy Grosenick on waivers. He is 31 and played eight season in the AHL. He did play two NHL games with the San Jose Sharks in 2015, but nothing since. He has more experience than Skinner, but I’m not sure he is much, if any, of an upgrade.

Tippett added that GM Ken Holland is working on the goalie situation. Koskinen will start both games against the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow and Monday, but eventually, Holland needs another goalie in Edmonton.

If anything happens to Koskinen, the Oilers would be in massive trouble. It is amazing how quickly things change. On Monday the Oilers had three goalies with NHL experience. Today they have one healthy NHL goalie.

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I believe Koskinen can comfortably start 35 games, maybe up to 37 or 38, but that still leaves 18-21 games for another goalie.

OPTIONS…

Jan 22, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard (35) makes a save on Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Howard is a free agent. He is 36 and played 27 games in Detroit last season, posting an ugly 4.20 GAA and .887SV%. Is he ready to play? Does he want to play? Even if he does, he would have to quarantine upon arriving from the USA for seven days if he arrives via Calgary and has the fast test. But then he can’t leave province for 14 days. Then he’d have to practice with the team at least a few days before playing.

Holland might have to make a trade for a depth goalie, but if that goalie comes from a USA team then they won’t be available until the 28th (home game).  Whatever route he takes, he needs to look for something quick.

He could call Toronto about Michael Hutchinson, who is their fourth goalie, but even then he’d have to isolate for seven days. So it won’t help right away. But why would the Leafs help the Oilers? They play each other four times in the next two weeks.

Winnipeg added Forsberg. Maybe they waive Laurent Brossoit, after Forsberg is off COVID protocol (he is on for seven days per league rules for changing teams), but the Jets won’t do that for at least a week.

Regardless of what route Holland takes, it looks like Koskinen will be the go-to goalie for the next few weeks. I think he can handle it, but the goaltending depth in Edmonton is suddenly a major concern.

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