Off the Top of My Head
Photo credit:Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
I don’t think there’s much debate that sorting out the goaltending situation is at the top of the priority pile for Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland this off-season, but as far as knowing what that looks like exactly, I’m not sure. You?
While everybody expects Stuart Skinner to be part of coach Jay Woodcroft’s tandem in the blue paint, much depends on 40-year-old Mike Smith. He has one year left on his contract but sounded like he was at the end of the line in exit interviews after the Oilers were swept out of the post-season by Colorado. Might some time to rest and heal change that? I don’t know.
What we do know is it’ll be Skinner, who is 23 and has just 14 NHL games on his resume, 13 of those coming with a 2.62 GAA and .913 save percentage last season, taking part of the workload. As a prospect but not a proven starter, I’d think that would mean playing no more than, what, 40 games? If Smith isn’t here, who takes the rest of the workload?
There are lots of names out there via free agency or trade, but who actually makes sense? The names we know. At the top end, there’s John Gibson in Anaheim. I don’t think the Oilers can afford that contract. We hear about Alexandar Georgiev in New York, but he’s coming off an .898 season. His career .909 in 131 games is the same as Skinner’s. I’d pass.
HUSSO AND CAMPBELL
May 23, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso (35) defends the net from the Colorado Avalanche during the first period in game four of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports
I hear and read the names Ville Husso and Jack Campbell a fair bit as possible targets. They stack up as two of the better options out there because they cost nothing but money — both are UFA’s July 13 so there’s no need to move players to get them.
Husso, 27, has just 57 games on his resume with St. Louis. He’s 34-13-7 with a 2.74 GAA and .912 save percentage. Husso wasn’t very good in the second round of playoffs against Colorado, but the Avalanche have a habit of making goaltenders look less-than-ordinary. He’s coming off a contract with an AAV of $750,000.
Campbell, 30, coming off a contract with a $1.65 million AAV with the Toronto Maple Leafs, looks like a better option to me. He played in a career-high 49 games this season and has 135 games in the books along with a 2.53 GAA and .916 for his career. Campbell is in for a sizeable pay bump, but the Maple Leafs don’t have much cap room to work with.
Campbell, 31-9-6 this season, will draw lots of interest. You’d have to think some of it will come from Holland. As always, it’ll come down to term and money if there’s interest in getting something done. Would a tandem of Campbell and Skinner represent enough of an upgrade?
I understand why many Oilers fans are twisted Connor McDavid was a distant second to Auston Matthews in voting for the Hart Memorial Trophy, but it’s no big surprise given all the hints it was likely to go that way once Matthews hit 60 goals. If I was still a PHWA voter, I’d have gone with McDavid, but it wasn’t a stretch to give Matthews the nod. Matthews was also voted winner of the Ted Lindsay Award. Fine. Good. No outrage here.
What doesn’t make sense is that McDavid didn’t appear on five of the 195 ballots counted for awards. McDavid, the leading scorer in the league by a comfortable margin with 123 points, isn’t top-five on five ballots? That’s a tough sell. If I was PHWA president Frank Seravalli, I’d be curious what those five voters were thinking, and I’d be taking a moment to ask them.
That goes double for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Seth Rorabaugh. He left both McDavid and Matthews outside the top five on his ballot. I don’t know Rorabaugh and I’m not going to speculate why he voted the way he did, but I can’t make any sense of a ballot that didn’t have McDavid or Matthews on it when Vancouver’s J.T. Miller was – in fifth place. Miller, tied for 14th place with Matthew Tkachuk, got his lone vote from Rorabaugh.
The Hockey Hall of Fame will announce its 2022 inductees Monday and Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who retired in 2018, look like good bets to get the call. They were actually eligible last year, but inductions were cancelled because of the pandemic.
The twins come as a package deal, always have, and this will be no different. Henrik not only put up 1,070 points in 1,330 games, he was voted the 2010 Hart Memorial Trophy, won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy twice and won the Art Ross Trophy in 2010.
Not to be outdone, Daniel tallied 1,041 points in 1,306 games, won the Ted Lindsay Award and Art Ross in 2011, the Clancy in 2018 and was a two-time all-star. In what could be an induction that’s Euro heavy, Daniel Alfredsson, Henrik Zetterberg, Sergei Gonchar and Patrik Elias are also eligible. A notable longshot for Oilers’ fans is Curtis Joseph. Cujo is seventh in career wins at 454.
LUKE GETS THE CALL
Former Oiler Luke Richardson has always been one of the best people you’ll ever meet. Now, after a playing career spanning 1,417 games, including 436 in Edmonton, and several seasons paying his dues as an assistant coach, he’s an NHL head coach after being named bench boss of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Richardson, 53, spent some lean seasons with the Oilers 1991-97 as part of a blueline that included the likes of Dave Manson, Craig Muni, Chris Joseph, Boris Mironov, Fred Olausson, Igor Kravchuk and Bryan Marchment. Richardson spent the past three seasons as an assistant in Montreal, where Martin St. Louis took over as head coach part way through last season.
Previously by Robin Brownlee
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