The Edmonton Oilers are in need of a major upgrade in the crease, among other areas.
The current cast of Oilers goaltenders consists of Ben Scrivens, while Richard Bachman, Laurent Brossoit, Tyler Bunz and others tend the crease in the American Hockey League.
In order to add to their now long-term rebuild, one focus of the Oilers this off-season will be to add a young, legitimate number one NHL goaltender.
Working the Phones
According to a report this past week by Pierre LeBrun, the Oilers have serious interest in acquiring a select few young players who project to become legitimate number one NHL goaltenders in the near future.
In particular, the goaltenders the Oilers are reportedly interested in include John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks, Cam Talbot of the New York Rangers, and Robin Lehner of the Ottawa Senators.
Each of these three young men have various reasons to welcome a trade out of town, however, if the Oilers are able to land one of these potential stars, it would do wonders to further the rebuild in Edmonton.
With that being said, let’s take a quick look at each of Gibson, Talbot and Lehner in order to determine who could be the best fit for the Edmonton Oilers now and in the future, as well as why they could be susceptible to a trade.
Firstly, there is soon to be 24-year-old goaltender Robin Lehner.
Lehner has played sporadically in the NHL over the past five seasons since he first entered the league in 2010-11. Originally a second round pick, 46th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, Lehner has struggled to play well consistently at the NHL level, an issue which has led to a career thus far defined to a back up role.
In the 2014-15 NHL season, Lehner appeared in 25 games for with the Senators, posting a 9-12-3 record alongside a 3.02 Goals Against Average and a .905 Save Percentage. In his five-year NHL career in Ottawa, Lehner has a cumulative record of 30-36-13, with a 2.88 Goals Against and a .914 Save Percentage over 86 games played.
Lehner finds himself in an increasingly dire situation in terms of playing time, especially so considering the transactions which the Senators have already made this off-season. Veteran goaltender Craig Anderson and Andrew “Hamburgler” Hammond are under contract for the next three years, while the Senators have also inked college free agent and budding star goaltender Matt O’Connor to a two-year contract with the promise of NHL playing time.
Lehner himself is under contract for the next two seasons at a modest cap hit of $2.225 Million dollars, however with such an immense log jam in the Senators’ crease this coming season, chances are both Ottawa and Lehner would be open to a trade to a new destination. Edmonton would be a great new home for Lehner, who would undoubtedly be given the majority of playing time over current starting goaltender Ben Scrivens.
At 6 foot 4, 225 pounds, Lehner is the largest of these three goaltenders, however, he has been inconsistent at the NHL level. Sure, he does have immense potential, however the Oilers are looking to acquire a goaltender who can become a franchise goaltender and building block for the future. Of these three goaltenders, Lehner is likely the least desirable fit for the Oilers.
Likely the second most skilled of the three, Talbot is an older goaltender at 28 years old, however he would still be a tremendous addition to a young Oilers team.
Undrafted, Talbot recently completed his second NHL season. In his 57 career regular season games played, Talbot has been extraordinary, recording a 2.00 Goals Against Average and a .931 Save Percentage alongside a 33-15-5 record.
In terms of a potential trade to the Oilers, Talbot is in a difficult situation in that he is stuck behind an elite starting goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist. With Lundqvist signed with the Rangers for another six seasons, the chances of Talbot surpassing Lundqvist for the starting goaltending job are slim to none.
Talbot is under contract for the 2015-16 season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1st.
Despite his older age, Talbot would still remain a significant upgrade in the Oilers crease. If acquired, Talbot would see the majority of the Oilers’ starts, a privilege which he has lacked thus far in his career in New York.
At 6 foot 3, 215 pounds, Talbot also has great size who would be a phenomenal addition to the Oilers’ roster, especially so considering he has enjoyed considerable success so far in his NHL career.
Arguably the most talented goaltender of the three, Gibson will be only 22 years young when the 2015-16 NHL season gets underway.
A former second round pick, 39th overall of the Ducks in 2011, Gibson recently completed his second professional hockey season. The Ducks have done a tremendous job developing Gibson, who has also played 57 games with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL.
At the NHL level, Gibson has played 26 regular season games thus far in his career as well as four in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In those games, Gibson has recorded a .919 Save Percentage as well as a 2.45 Goals Against Average with two shutouts.
The case for the Oilers to land Gibson is a strong one considering the current goaltending situation in Anaheim. The Ducks are extremely confident in current starting goaltender Frederik Andersen, who has received the vast majority of playing time over the past few seasons, especially so in the Playoffs.
Both goaltenders are set to become restricted free agents following the 2015-16 NHL season, meaning the Ducks will need to make a major decision regarding who they will have in net for the considerable future.
At 6 foot 3, 215 pounds, Gibson has tremendous size, and at his young age would be a fantastic goaltender to develop alongside the Oilers’ current core of budding young stars.
What are your thoughts? Which of these goaltenders should the Oilers acquire, if any? Comment below!
Brett Slawson is a four-year veteran of The Hockey Writers who covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL prospects, and the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads.
Contact Brett on Twitter @brettslawson92, or by email at email@example.com.