The Edmonton Oilers are reportedly “juggling multiple balls” when it comes to their goaltending heading into next season.
In a Friday 31 thoughts column from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, he noted the Oilers are looking at different options.
In goal, it sounds like they are juggling multiple balls, from Mike Smith to someone younger.
This is good news, at the very least, when it comes to the Oilers and making decisions in net. Mike Smith isn’t getting any younger and while he had a strong enough season to gain some Vezina votes, he’s closer to retirement than he is replicating that level of success again.
Smith said at the end of the year he wasn’t going to be making “any rash decisions” about his future. Given his age and his young family, does he consider hanging up the skates? If so, it would remove a fallback option that Ken Holland already exercised last year.
I don’t think anybody is going to be rushing to sign Smith on day one of free agency and would the player even consider playing anywhere outside of Western Canada? He spoke at length in season about how difficult is was being away from his family due to the COVID-19 restrictions the league had in place. I can’t imagine him wanting to be even further away this year.
So from the outside looking in, it seems to be “Oilers or bust” for the goaltender. That’s just be speculating, but it’s also the most logical scenario in my eyes.
The Oilers have a few things working in their favour this offseason: they have lots of cap space, a decent amount of moveable assets, a desire to get better, and some available goaltenders that could make the team better.
Tyler Yaremchuk listed off numerous options last month: in free agency, Phillip Grubauer, Petr Mrazek, Linus Ullmark, Chris Driedger, Freddie Andersen and Antti Raanta. In the trade market, Darcy Kuemper, Elvis Merzlikins, and Alexander Georgiev.
Ilya Konovalov could also surprise people in his transition to North America. All in all, these next few weeks are going to be really interesting to see what happens.

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 [email protected]