Edmonton Oilers Notebook: Team willing to move ‘a number of assets’ in hunt for goaltender, as scouts attend Canadiens-Blue Jackets game

Photo credit:Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
6 months ago
The NHL’s worst-kept secret is that the Edmonton Oilers want to improve their situation in the crease.
The club’s dismal start to the season was overshadowed by atrocious goaltending. While Stuart Skinner begins to rebound in the crease in Edmonton and Jack Campbell in the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors’ net, the hunt continues.
They’ve reportedly kicked tires on Jordan Binnington, as first reported by 630 CHED’s Reid Wilkins and again by the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch Tuesday.
Garrioch also noted in his column the team is “willing to move a number of assets,” but not their first-round pick, with an executive saying, “it’s almost like they want try to dance through this if they can and just try to survive it.”
Undoubtedly, it’s a fine line they are trying to dance, but a three-game winning streak over the Anaheim Ducks, Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights has allowed the club to exhale ever so slightly.
Still, the team is hard at work evaluating the market.
Three Oilers scouts were in attendance in Columbus for Wednesday night’s game between the Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens: Assistant GM Brad Holland, pro scout Warren Rychel, and goaltending scout Jeff Salajko, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector reported. They also attended a Monday game between the Blue Jackets and Bruins.
The Oilers have reportedly kicked tires around the trio of netminders for the Habs this year in Jake Allen, Cayden Primeau and Samuel Montembeault, the latter of which started last night posting a .929 save percentage in a 4-2 win.
On the other side of the rink, however, the Blue Jackets, whose dismal 7-12-4 record has them staring down the barrel of another lottery pick, started netminder Elvis Merzlikins. He finished the game with a .903 save percentage.
Merzlikins’ name has swirled in trade circles in years past, but it’s never seemed like there was any real fire behind that smoke. But with three years after this on a deal that pays him $5.4 million, one has to wonder if, with his numbers beginning to rebound, he could play the Blue Jackets out of an early pick in a year where Boston University freshman Mackin Celebrini could play his way to the No. 1 overall spot in the draft.
There’s a connection between Campbell and their goaltending coach, Manny Legace, whom the former requested to join him with the Condors last week, too.
At the very least, the Oilers have kicked tires on Merzlikins in the past, dating back to 2021, and they would’ve gotten another look at him last night.
Let’s see how much fire is behind the smoke this time around.


Fanti skates

Edmonton Oilers goaltending prospect Ryan Fanti hit the ice Wednesday for his first practice following off-season hip surgery.
Fanti, 24, signed with the Oilers as a free agent when his college tenure wrapped up in 2022 and spent last season largely in the ECHL with the Fort Wayne Komets. In the regular season, he posted a 15-16-0 record, a 3.49 GAA and a .894 save percentage, but those numbers spiked in a hot playoff run. In six games, he went 3-3, posting a .959 save percentage and a 1.35 GAA.
Last March, Fanti made headlines over two things you rarely see from a goaltender: a goal, and a fight.
As Tony Brar noted in his tweet above, Fanti must be medically cleared before being assigned. He will likely head to the ECHL again once healthy.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

Check out these posts...