The Edmonton Oilers have one major priority this offseason: acquire a starting goaltender. Whether that be via trade or in free agency, without Mike Smith, who is likely out on LTIR, and with no Mikko Koskinen, they’ll need someone who can play 50 games while Stuart Skinner becomes their 1B and develops in the NHL.
The problem for the Oilers is that there aren’t a lot of goaltenders left available on the market. The goalie carousel started spinning at the NHL Draft and it hasn’t stopped. There are really only three players still on it as the Oilers prepare to make their play on July 13th and it’s not clear how many of the netminders spinning around and looking at the many teams who still need someone have the Oilers in their sights.
So who are the realistic options for Edmonton? It appears there might be three:
Jack Campbell Is the Favorite
If you like to gamble money, take the odds on Jack Campbell becoming part of this Oilers roster next season. A number of insiders have the deal all but done, with the Toronto Maple Leafs making one last pitch to see if they can convince Campbell not to jump. That ship has probably sailed for the Maple Leafs so it’s Edmonton, or teams like New Jersey or Buffalo.
If Campbell wants to win, he’ll choose the Oilers. They went to the Western Conference Final last season, they still have the core of their team together and they’re probably the favorites in Canada to challenge for another Stanley Cup. Campbell could do much worse and he’s got a few friends already on the team in Zach Hyman and Cody Ceci.
The Oilers are rumored to be willing to go as high as $5 million times five seasons. Hopefully, it’s not that long a term, but that’s the cost when the supply is far less than the demand.
Darcy Kuemper Is The Long-Shot
The Oilers previously showed interest in Darcy Kuemper and rumors were GM Ken Holland was willing to give up a first-round pick to acquire him before he was moved to the Colorado Avalanche. The Oilers might make a pitch again. The key here is likely outbidding other teams that make a play and the Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals will be among them.
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If Kuemper wants $6 million by six years in free agency, that might be too rich for the Oilers’ blood. At the same time, if they strike out on Campbell, there aren’t a lot of options left for the Oilers and they’ll have to overpay to land a goalie who can start NHL games. The risk here is that Kuemper is already 32 years old. A five or six-year deal puts him at 37/38 when it’s done and Edmonton just went down that road with Smith. Do they want to go there again?
Matt Murray Is The After Free Agency Trade Option
Names like John Gibson, Jake Allen, and Cam Talbot are potentially out there in the trade rumor mill but none are all that realistic for the Oilers. Gibson is already said to have nixed a deal to Edmonton, the Canadiens aren’t keen on moving Allen and there’s no real reason for Minnesota to ship out Talbot, despite the frustration that seems to be going on there over the Marc-Andre Fleury extension . Matt Murray is the player the Oilers might have to target if they’re trading for someone after free agency opens.
If the Oilers miss out on Campbell and Kuemper, Holland will have to start making calls and make a trade. Murray is the one guy everyone knows is out there and the Senators have been willing to add a sweetener to get someone to take on his contract. If he waives his no-trade for the Oilers, there’s a possible deal there, perhaps one that is more than just a goalie, but a deal that sees the Oilers also land Connor Brown.
Murray is a huge risk based on the way he’s played for the Senators and it’s a trade that could backfire on the Oilers if they don’t believe they can fix whatever his issues are. The plus side here is that he’s only locked in for two more seasons. If it’s a failure, it’s not as big a black hole as signing Campbell or Kuemper would be if either came here and struggled for five seasons.
What’s so interesting about Murray is that reports are trade talks have heated up between the Maple Leafs and Senators regarding the player, lending credence to the theory that Campbell is leaving Toronto.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”
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