Oilers and Panthers Could Pull Off Blockbuster Goaltender Trade

As the Edmonton Oilers look to solve their goaltending issues this summer, an interesting name has just surfaced as a potential candidate. As per a report by Nick Kypreos said on the “Real Kyper & Bourne” Show, the Panthers are actively trying to trade a two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky and are willing to retain plenty of salary to do so. He notes during the show: “In terms of takers, who needs a goalie, and we are willing to hold cash back. And I’m told as much as 50 percent.”

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If this is an accurate report, the Oilers should absolutely be interested as Bobrovsky could solve their goaltending issues over the next three to four seasons.

The Situation Might Be Just Right for Oilers

If the Panthers weren’t willing to retain 50% of Bobrosvsky’s deal, there’s no way the Oilers would look at the 33-year-old as a solution to their goaltending issues. But, on a $5 million per season deal for four years, it’s not the worst idea. When productive, Bobrovsky is among the better goaltenders in the NHL. He’s had a few bumps in the road over the past couple of seasons, including a couple of tougher runs in Florida after signing a monster $10 million contract, but he was much better in 2021-22 and he’s got a lot left in the tank.

Sergei Bobrovsky Florida Panthers
Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Oilers could do much worse when you look at the other options available. Speculation is that they’ll be heavily in on Ville Husso out of St. Louis, who projects to be a great goaltender, but is still a relatively unproven option that is likely to cost $4 million over three or four seasons. Edmonton could go for Jack Campbell if he hits free agency, but that’s going to be equally as expensive as Bobrovsky, and Campbell is far less proven. Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t sound keen to consider the Oilers and John Gibson has shot down the idea of a trade out of Anaheim.

Related: Explaining Oilers’ 3 Most Confusing Summer Contracts: Kane, Keith, Smith

Of all the options the Oilers potentially have available to them, Bobrovsky just shot up the ladder and would arguably be among the one or two-best ideas.

Holland Loves Saving Money on Veterans

At just 33 years old, Bobrovsky isn’t close to the end of his run as a productive NHL starting goalie. But, because the Panthers want Spencer Knight to take the next step and Florida needs to clear salary cap space, they’re willing to make what some are seeing as a fairly drastic move. Ken Holland has no issues bringing in older netminders and he’s proven he’s willing to bet a season on far longer odds.

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Mike Smith was the guy and he was 37, 38 and 39 years old. Bobrovsky will barely be 37 when his contract is complete. He’s an excellent 1A option to get Stuart Skinner the games he needs to work his way into a steady backup NHL role and as a tandem, it has a nice ring to it. Bobrovsky won’t be overworked and Skinner will have a top-level starter working alongside him. If Smith retires or hits LTIR, this actually becomes a cap win for Edmonton who will lose his $2.2 million salary and have already shed Mikko Koskinen’s $4.5 million off the roster.

What Would a Trade Look Like?

While Florida will need to look for another goalie if they move Bobrovsky, it’s unlikely the Panthers take Smith back in return. They could, but if they don’t, the Oilers need to find something else to move in the trade.

Jesse Puljujarvi Edmonton Oilers
Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The good news for Holland is that Florida won’t want a ton of salary back. That means not sending a big-time player away to get a big-time goalie. Those types of situations don’t come around all that often. The downside is that Florida might ask for a player like Jesse Puljujarvi, along with a draft pick and Holland might bite. The Panthers have been big proponents of analytics in the past and Puljujarvi is a dream player for numbers guys.

The Oilers won’t be the only team asking about Bobrovsky if he’s truly available at $5 million per season. New Jersey, Buffalo, and Toronto will all be in on the trade conversations and that means giving up something of value.