Whatever has gone on in the Edmonton Oilers‘ crease this season, it hasn’t worked. The team is 22nd in goals allowed per game this season with 3.26. They have as many goals for as they do against, except 3.26 goals scored per game is respectable when it places them 10th in the league.
On the Real Kyper & Bourne podcast, Nick Kypreos brings up that the Oilers are heavily interested in goaltender Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers. A young goaltender who has potential and showed signs of being a very solid option in net. He wants to be a number one goaltender, and can’t do that with Igor Shesterkin in front of him in New York. Something has to give, and of the options that are available for the Oilers mid-season and after this year, he may be one of the best.
Every team knows how much the Oilers are in need of help in goal with poor performances and injuries, so the price will probably be a little higher across the board. There’s the high-end options like Marc-Andre Fleury, Carey Price, Semyon Varlamov, and Linus Ullmark. Then there’s the second-tier of goaltenders that may become available but are too old to be considered the future in net in Edmonton, or questionable ability. This list includes Jaroslav Halak, Anton Khudobin, James Reimer, Joonas Korpisalo, Chris Driedger, and Jake Allen.
Georgiev is the youngest of all these goaltenders and can be negotiated into what could be the best contract if he progresses with more playing time and trust.
Shortcomings in the Oilers’ Crease
A team can’t be expected to win more than not when they have the mindset of having to score four-plus goals every game to do so. The three goaltenders who have suited up for the Oilers this year have been Mikko Koskinen, Mike Smith, and Stuart Skinner.
Skinner has been the best option in net for the Oilers, but he is also the only waiver exempt goalie of the three. He has shown that there’s not much more for him in the American Hockey League (AHL) and that it’s time he gets his shot in the NHL full time.
Koskinen’s time in Edmonton is nearing an end, and this season has not been good once again for him. From allowing the first goal of the game or an early weak one in, or the tension between him and Dave Tippett, there’s not much that can make his situation better. Smith has struggled with injuries and it has stopped him from gaining any traction this season in the handful of games he’s played in.
Will Georgiev Change the Complexion in Net This Season?
If the Oilers traded for Georgiev this season, he would bring with him a goals-against average (GAA) and a save percentage (SV%) better than both Koskinen and Smith, the two goaltenders the team chose to go with this season. Georgiev has a 2.76 GAA and .904 SV%. What is the most impressive about his season so far is how many quality starts he’s had in just 14 starts. He sits at eight on the season, a .571 quality start percentage, which is well above the league average of .53. Skinner is the only Oiler goalie who is even above .400. Therefore, being able to give the Oilers a good chance on more than half of the nights can breathe confidence back into the locker room.
To make a deal work, the Oilers would have to send Koskinen or Smith in return, giving the Rangers a backup to replace Georgiev. This is needed to free up the cap space that Georgiev brings ($2.425 million) and a roster spot. If the Oilers could get Smith out of Edmonton this season, that solves a problem for next year when it is likely Skinner will finally be a part of the Oilers full time. If they send Koskinen back, that would free up more cap space for the Oilers to work with before the deadline. Take your pick, either would work fine for the Oilers in their current situation.
Many have been calling for Skinner to be recalled and continue to start for the Oilers. If Koskinen is the goalie to go in a deal for Georgiev, Smith’s health may come into play and allow the Oilers to call up Skinner for an extended period of time and get a glimpse of what the goaltending situation could look like for years to come.
How Does Georgiev Fit Into the Oilers’ Plans for the Future?
The Oilers have to be thinking about the future if they are heavily interested in a 25-year-old goaltender, maybe not to fully fix this season, but to get new blood in town and get comfortable. Skinner is another piece of the future in Edmonton, a homegrown talent who seems just about ready to contribute in a big way.
Georgiev may not be fully ready to take the starting role on a team, but he just may be able to be an effective goaltender splitting time in the crease 50/50. Skinner would be the goaltender he would be splitting time with in the future for sure, but it could also be Smith this season if he stays healthy.
Skinner has slowly built up the starts and confidence in the NHL to the point where he can start a few games in a row and be effective or back up for a while if Georgiev is hot. That’s the beauty of having two capable goaltenders splitting time, the coach can play to their strengths and ride the hot hand. That’s becoming more popular in today’s game.
Even if Koskinen is included in the deal to acquire Georgiev and Smith remains with the team on a contract until the end of next season, he may not even be in the plans. The plan was to sign him cheaper to give the Oilers more of what he brought last season. With all the injuries catching up to him, that hasn’t been the case. It wouldn’t be the most difficult thing to move a $2 million contract with one year remaining.
Georgiev is a restricted free agent after this season, so the Oilers would be able to judge his performance and most likely agree upon a two to three-year bridge deal, then go from there. If you recall, there was another goaltender the Oilers acquired from the Rangers a number of years ago who went on to win the most games in a season in franchise history, Cam Talbot. The Oilers appear to be looking towards the future, and it will hopefully turn out better than sticking with veterans.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with the NHL Stat Corner and trade talks from around the NHL.
You can find more of his work here.