NHL Notebook: Oilers holding ‘open competition’ for starters net and five underrated goaltenders across the league
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers are holding an open competition for who will start game one of the regular season.
This, according to Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft, who made the comments after practice Tuesday.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise given the stellar play of Jack Campbell so far this pre-season. He’s allowed just two goals across 122 minutes turning aside 66 of the shots he’s faced for a .971 save percentage — the best mark of any goaltender in the pre-season who has played in two or more games.
Skinner, on the other hand, has struggled in his two starts allowing six goals on 50 shots — poor enough for a .880. It’s pre-season, after all, so there’s really no sense in putting too much weight into the numbers, but there’s a notable split there at the very least.
For the two tenders, it’s a flip-flop of what we saw last year during the regular season when Skinner excelled, and Campbell faltered. No matter who starts this season, the Oilers are very likely to split the majority of the games between the two.
It was Skinner who took the majority of games last regular season starting in 48, while Campbell started 34. I’d imagine this split — if Campbell’s numbers are able to rebound as I expect them to — to be even tighter. Could we see a 42-40 split? Entirely possible.
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Underrated goalies around the league
A fan of fantasy hockey? If yes, I’m sure you either have already, or will be drafting your teams sooner, rather than later.
And with an everchanging goaltending market, Daily Faceoff took a look at some of the more underrated goaltenders in the league naming five worth keeping an eye on.
The list was put together by Vasili Gianarakos, who utilized MoneyPuck’s goals saved above expected to identify a number of goalies who ranked in the top 15 in that statistic last year:
- Filip Gustavsson, Minnesota Wild
- Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers
- Joonas Korpisalo, Ottawa Senators
- Sam Montembeault, Montreal Canadiens
- Karel Vejmelka, Arizona Coyotes
Gustavsson, acquired by the Wild in the Cam Talbot trade with Ottawa, was rock solid for them in his first season with the team. He firmly established himself as someone who could be relied upon with a .931 save percentage across 39 appearances last season. He’s expected to back up Marc-Andre Fleury this season.
Hart’s name had been loosely linked to the Oilers this past summer, but nothing of much substance was there in terms of potential trade fits. There’s not denying Hart’s talent and it’s clear that with a better team in front of him, his numbers could improve.
Korpisalo, meanwhile, will look to further cement himself as a reliable goaltender this season. He had a strong season last year splitting time between a brutal Columbus Blue Jackets team, and an LA Kings squad that got downed by the Oilers in the first round of the playoffs.
Out in Montreal, Montembault will be an interesting player to follow this season. It’s just he and Jake Allen in the crease this year, and Montembault has had issues throughout his NHL career. Last year, he posted a .901 save percentage in 40 appearances and will look to improve on that mark.
Lastly, Vejmelka was surprisingly good in front of a not-so-good Arizona Coyotes last season. He had a great start to the year posting a .906 save percentage from October through December, but from January through the end of the season that number dropped to an .880. Arizona should be a competitive team this season, so it will be interesting to see how he performs.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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