Oilers Sign Free Agent College Goalie Ryan Fanti to Entry-Level Deal

The Edmonton Oilers have joined a number of NHL clubs that have dipped into the college free-agent market over the past few days. While teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens have signed some notable names, the Oilers have nabbed a player at a position of weakness, signing goaltender Ryan Fanti out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

The deal is a two-year entry-level contract that will see him join the AHL Bakersfield Condors on an amateur tryout this season.

The entry-level deal breaks down as follows:

  • Yr 1: $750K NHL Salary, $92.5K Signing Bonus, $82.5K Games-Played Bonus, and $80K salary in the minors
  • Yr 2: $832.5K NHL Salary, $92.5K Signing Bonus, $80K salary in the minors

Who Is Ryan Fanti?

At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Fanti is a 22-year-old free agent netminder who just finished his second college season for Minnesota-Duluth. He became the starter this year and posted some incredible numbers: 1.83 GAA along with a .929 SV% in 37 games along with seven shutouts. This only added to his already impressive stats and made him a commodity a number of teams were interested in.

Oilers fans should be excited about this signing. As Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer writes, “Fanti literally willed UMD into the NCAA Regionals.” He adds, “He pitched three straight Shutouts before losing 2-1 to Carter Savoie and Denver in the West Regionals Final…stopping 115 out of 117 SOG in his final 4 starts.” He was a two-time selection for the NCHC All-Conference Academic Team. 

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As the Oilers official website points out, “Prior to his time at UMD, Fanti spent a pair of seasons (2017-19) with the NAHL’s Minnesota Wilderness, with whom he appeared in 75 games, posting a 2.70 GAA and .917 SV%.”

The Oilers Got a Good One

Jordan McAlpine of College Hockey News wrote that Fanti deserved to win NCHC Goaltender of the Year for his play on an inconsistent Minnesota-Duluth squad. He added that Fanti shut out the nation’s highest-scoring offense, but more than that didn’t give up a goal against when playing two of the top four scoring teams in the country. Fanti was a unanimous selection as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

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UMD head coach Scott Sandelin praised Fanti, calling him the steadiest part of an often inconsistent team but also mentioned his leadership skills. “When you hear him talk and then just (saying) the right things and he’s been really, really outstanding for us,” Sandelin said.

What Does This Mean for the Oilers?

Fans won’t see Fanti this season in Edmonton, but his signing could have a trickle-down effect this year. If he comes into Bakersfield and looks ready to go, the Oilers might feel more comfortable bringing Stuart Skinner up if the combination of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen continues to struggle. More than that, this is a future piece the Oilers can feel good about knowing that Smith and Koskinen will be out of the picture in two years’ time.

Stuart Skinner Edmonton Oilers
Stuart Skinner, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It is expected that Skinner will be in the NHL full-time next season and Fanti will be the depth in the AHL alongside Ilya Konovalov and Olivier Rodrigue. Smith will probably still be with the Oilers unless another move is made to ship him out and bring a different starter in to work with Skinner.

This could open the door to the Oilers trading one of their goalie prospects in the summer if the team plans to make some additional moves to clear out cap space and get some of their forwards under contract.