One of the Edmonton Oilers’ secondary needs this summer is
in net. Cam Talbot was acquired last season to be the team’s starting goalie,
and he did a good enough job that Edmonton signed him to a multi-year extension.
However the backup position, currently held by Laurent Brossoit, is clearly up for grabs and there are a
number of free agents worth consideration from the Oilers.
In this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday, we
ask who Edmonton should be looking at.

The Chart

Player
Age 
Height
2015-16 TOI
2015-16 SV%
2012-16 TOI
2012-16 SV%
Cam Talbot
28
6’3″
2537
0.921
5188
0.928
James Reimer
28
6’2″
1787
0.940
6062
0.926
Chad Johnson
30
6’3″
2070
0.926
4273
0.925
Jhonas Enroth
28
5’10”
689
0.938
4702
0.924
Anton Khudobin
30
5’11”
288
0.882
4165
0.919
Jeff Zatkoff
29
6’2″
580
0.921
1526
0.919
Karri Ramo
30
6’2″
1764
0.918
4911
0.918
Al Montoya
31
6’2″
1054
0.927
3336
0.917
Carter Hutton
30
6’1″
769
0.928
3291
0.917
Ben Scrivens
29
6’2″
638
0.928
5813
0.916
Cam Ward
32
6’1″
2487
0.918
6924
0.916
Alex Stalock
29
6′
522
0.888
2555
0.915
Jonas Gustavsson
31
6’4″
1003
0.914
2701
0.914
Anders Lindback
28
6’6″
670
0.911
3886
0.912
Niklas Backstrom
38
6’2″
173
0.870
3621
0.908
Using NHL
Numbers
for contract information and HockeyAnalysis for statistical
details, I was able to compile a list of pending free agent goaltenders, along with
some key information on the play of each. Age is as of July 1, 2016, and all
statistics (ice-time and save percentage) are from 5-on-5 situations only. Cam
Talbot is listed for comparison purposes only.
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One quick note: I have excluded AHL players for obvious
reasons, though of course it’s possible that the Oilers would consider someone
like Jeremy
Smith
, a strong minor-leaguer with ties to Peter Chiarelli. I also excluded
NHL’ers who had signed in Europe. Anton Khudobin is on this list, but is likely to head
to the KHL at some point this summer.  

The Candidates

I’ve presented these players in order of average 5-on-5 save
percentage over the last four seasons, and the list of plausible candidates is
short enough that we can consider them individually.
There are three names that have clearly separated themselves
from the rest of the list:
  • James Reimer is the top goalie on the market this summer,
    and as such seems an unlikely fit in Edmonton. There are a few teams in need of
    a new starter and Reimer is a plausible candidate for one of those jobs.
  • Chad Johnson doesn’t get enough respect. He’s big, he’s
    reasonably young and he has a fine track record. He also has ties to Chiarelli,
    having previously played in Boston, and is an excellent candidate for the
    backup job in Edmonton. His experience in Buffalo this year should have
    adequately prepared him for the task of playing behind the Oilers defence, and
    his ability to fill-in as starter for a stretch is a plus.
  • Jhonas Enroth’s name often comes up, and for good reason. He’s
    undersized, but he’s young and at the right price-point would be a good fit
    with the Oilers. Like both Reimer and Johnson, he has history performing well
    for poor NHL teams.
After those three, what I would define as the second tier
includes seven names:
  • Anton Khudobin is another player with ties to Chiarelli from
    Boston, but one would imagine he’s worth more as a KHL starter than an NHL
    backup.
  • Jeff Zatkoff is likely to be one of the cheapest names on
    this list, and as a pure backup he’s not a bad option. He’s reasonably big,
    reasonably young and has been a reasonably strong AHL’er when not in the
    majors.
  • Karri Ramo would be a good fit, but he got a fairly hefty
    contract last year and he’s just not worth that kind of money. His numbers
    suggest that he’s a pure backup but he seems to be regarded as a 1A/1B goalie.
    I’d consider circling back to him late in free agency if the price is right, he’s
    still looking for work and the Oilers are still looking for a goalie.
  • Al Montoya and Carter Hutton have extremely similar profiles.
    Both have pure backup-type numbers over the last four years in 3300-odd minutes,
    and both are coming off very strong performances in 2015-16. I weight the
    long-term record heavily and would note that both played for conservative
    clubs, so I would only consider these players as options if they came cheap.
  • Ben Scrivens is an obvious non-starter for Edmonton.
  • Cam Ward is a famous player and I’d bet he gets more money
    than his performance would dictate he’s actually worth, so I’d pass.
The final tier consists of players whose four-year numbers
suggest they shouldn’t be seriously considered. Alex Stalock is small, imploded
this year and has a decidedly mediocre four-year record. Jonas Gustavsson and Anders
Lindback have spent most of their careers disappointing general managers.
Niklas Backstrom seems to have passed his best before date. None of these
players should be candidates for Edmonton.
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In Peter Chiarelli’s shoes, what would you do? Would you
sign one of the above players, lean on prospect Laurent Brossoit, acquire an
AHL or European goalie or trade for a suitable backup?

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS