‘Maybe it should be:’ Frank Seravalli questions Edmonton Oilers lack of goaltending priorities

Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
4 months ago
What’s been made pretty clear is how the Edmonton Oilers feel about their goaltending.
Jack Campbell’s disastrous start to the season resulted in him being sent to the AHL, where he’s rebounded nicely, while Calvin Pickard has served admirably as Stuart Skinner’s backup.
The new duo have done well, providing the team with a combined .918 save percentage between when Kris Knoblauch took over behind the bench, and the NHL’s All-Star Break. There hasn’t been a batted eye.
Until the Oilers returned from said break, that is, where things have fallen off the rails in more than a few areas. At best, Edmonton’s defensive play has been shaky, and the netminding has fallen off the rails entirely, with a combined .865 save percentage across 11 games in which the Oilers have gone 5-5-1.
Although Skinner rebounded with a .950 save percentage Monday night against the LA Kings, the Oilers appear more than comfortable with the Skinner – Pickard duo in net, even though the former of the two is on pace for a stunning 61 games played.
And on Tuesday, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli wrote an article that the Nashville Predators are unlikely to trade netminder Juuse Saros, so long as they remain in the playoff picture. In it, he also analyzed a number of teams’ netminding situations around the league, looking at if goaltending is a high, or low priority.
Here’s what he wrote about the Oilers situation:
Priority: Low
Scoop: This isn’t an old narrative. Fact: Stuart Skinner played at an absolutely elite level for a chunk of this season, allowing Edmonton to challenge an NHL record win streak (16 wins). From the time Kris Knoblauch was hired until the All-Star break, Skinner went 21-4-0, allowed just 50 goals in those 25 games, and posted a sterling .925 save percentage. The problem is, Edmonton’s goaltending is in the tank again since the All-Star break. Together, Skinner (.879) and Cal Pickard (.877) have struggled. And Skinner has played a ton – his 33 starts since Nov. 13 are tied for fifth most in the league, just three back of leader Georgiev, whom the Avs think is playing too much. The Oilers would need to waive and send down players in order to recall Jack Campbell from the AHL. Goaltending doesn’t figure to be too big on Edmonton’s priority list, but maybe it should be.
Seravalli touches on some important points here, most notably how the Colorado Avalanche feel uncomfortable with how many games Alexander Georgiev is getting this season. The problem for the Oilers is they don’t really have somebody they can run with to give Skinner a break.
Pickard, a .905 save percentage a hair above the league average .900 rate aside, isn’t someone who can take a bulk workload for a few weeks, doubly so considering the Oilers are in the thick of the playoff race themselves. Instead, Edmonton appears willing to continue to trot out Skinner regularly, despite the fact that last season, the netminder appeared to burn out in the playoffs following a 50-game season.
Earth to Oilers: Skinner is only eight games off that mark with 26 games left in the regular season.
It’s not like Campbell could be easily recalled, either. As Seravalli noted, Edmonton would have to waive and reassign multiple players to fit his cap hit on the books, and there’s no reason to believe the team even wants him to start another NHL game for the franchise.
But with just over a week to go until the trade deadline, maybe the Oilers will change their tune.

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