On Sunday night, the hockey world saw one of the best offensive games in recent memory. The Edmonton Oilers beat the Ottawa Senators 8-5 in a game where you would’ve missed a goal if you looked away from your television for even a second. Connor McDavid had a goal and four assists and Leon Draisaitl had six assists. The two took a comfortable lead at one and two among NHL point leaders. What was even more noticeable was the Edmonton Oilers goaltending issues. While the Sens Matt Murray was pulled early in the first period, Edmonton’s Stuart Skinner fared no better. Skinner is the Oilers third-string goalie and was making his first career start, but could not impress in his start. Despite the Oilers starting their third goalie on the depth chart, it was clear that if the Oilers want to be a serious contender, an upgrade is needed.
Edmonton Oilers Goaltending Need
With Mike Smith currently out with an injury and Mikko Koskinen dead last in GAA, an upgrade is needed. If that upgrade is not in the system then the Oilers need to look to the trade market. With teams preparing for the expansion draft, there should be some goalies on the market now and closer to the trade deadline.
Potential Trade Candidates
Darcy Kuemper/Antti Raanta
The Arizona Coyotes goalie tandem have been involved in trade rumours for a little while now. With the Coyotes in no place to contend, a rebuild seems likely. Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta both had solid 2019-2020 campaigns. The tandem was a key reason why the Coyotes got to the bubble and into the first round. So far this year, Raanta ranks 25th in save percentage with Kuemper close behind him at 27th. Raanta might make more sense as a rental, as he is an unrestricted free agent in 2021 and probably won’t cost as much. However, if the Oilers are in a position to contend for a cup by the trade deadline, Kuemper might be a better fit.
Last season in the bubble, Robin Lehner started the majority of the games for the Vegas Golden Knights. In fact, Marc-Andre Fleury really only played if the Golden Knights had games on back to back nights. Last offseason, Fleury was on the trade block, but the Golden Knights couldn’t trade him. With the Oilers desperate for a goaltender, this could be Vegas’ chance to move him. Fleury is currently second in the NHL in save percentage and GAA. That would be a huge upgrade over Koskinen or whoever else the Oilers could currently put in goal.
Right now in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization, there is one thing that is pretty clear: Joonas Korpisalo is better than Elvis Merzlikins. With the Seattle Expansion draft approaching, it might benefit the Blue Jackets to trade the worse of the two if they aren’t playing like a cup contender. As for the Oilers, both Korpisalo and Merzlikins are 26 years old. If they could manage to get either one they’d be getting a goalie at the beginning of their prime or just entering it. It would just make more sense for Columbus to move Merzlikins and keep Korpisalo.
An Upgrade is Needed
Any of these goalies would be an improvement on the Oilers current goaltending situation. Improving the goaltender position will help the Oilers make and advance in the playoffs. After the Oilers shocking loss in the 2020 Qualifying Round, the issue should have been addressed. Now that it hasn’t, the Oilers should not stand idle and waste another year of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s exceptional play. Even if the Oilers aren’t trading for a goalie of the future, the time to address the issue is long overdue.