The Edmonton Oilers are facing significant challenges, particularly in the goaltending department, contributing to a lackluster 5-10-1 start to the season. The tandem of Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell has struggled (Campbell is now in the minors), collectively posting a .873 SV% and a 3.70 GAA in 16 games played. Skinner is showing signs of tiring, so a very rusty Calvin Pickard gets the start on Monday night. All things emphasize the need for a change.
In an ideal trade scenario, the Oilers would part ways with Jack Campbell and his $5 million salary. However, given limited cap space across the league, this option becomes challenging and the cost dear. The Oilers might have to give up as many as three valued pieces to dump the Campbell deal, making any improvement in goaltending a costly endeavor for the Oilers. If they don’t want to take on huge salary cap like Jordan Binnington in exchange, they need to come up with other options — either ones that are more cost effective or send them a more guaranteed, can’t-miss thing.
That said, there might be options out there. Here are seven:
Petr Mrazek – Chicago Blackhawks
With one year remaining on his deal at a cost of $3.8 million, the cap hit on Petr Mrazek is certainly an issue if Chicago elects not to absorb Campbell’s contract. But, as the Blackhawks rebuild, he’s not likely in their long-term plans. The Oilers could buy out Campbell and upgrade with Mrazek, who is having a productive season, but the dead cap space that comes with Campbell’s buy out is not ideal. Conversely, Chicago has the room to trade for and buy out Campbell, and for that reason alone, these two teams working together could make sense.
A potential trade might involve the Oilers attaching their 2024 first-round pick and other picks over the next couple of seasons to pique Chicago’s interest.
Daniel Vladar – Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames are on the verge of tearing it all down. With pending UFAs likely on the move, a trade between the Oilers and Flames seems unlikely, but it’s not an impossibility. Goaltender Dan Vladar has encountered challenges during five-on-five play this season, posting a modest .869 save percentage and while that might not be an upgrade the Oilers are looking for, his past performances shouldn’t be ignored.
Vladar’s cap hit stands at $2.2 million, adjustments could be made without causing significant disruption to the team’s financial structure. He’s not the ideal fit, but if the Flames are dumping players, the money isn’t as prohibitive as some of the other options that are floating around out there.
Jaroslav Halak: A Free Agent Option
With Jaroslav Halak recently released from his PTO with the Carolina Hurricanes, the veteran netminder emerges as a free-agent option for the Oilers. While not necessarily a starting goaltender, Halak could provide reliable backup support to Stuart Skinner without requiring a significant financial commitment.
This is one of the few deals the Oilers could make that wouldn’t require huge sacrifice in terms of a trade or paying money on a long-term contract. It would be a short, inexpensive deal that Halak might be happy to take knowing he’d at least get a chance to play.
Karel Vejmelka – Arizona Coyotes
Karel Vejmelka has two-years at a cost of $5.45 million ($2.725 per season) on his deal. This would be the Oilers going after someone they think could be a part of their team and grow over the next couple of seasons. He’s 27 years old, so there’s room to develop there.
He’s playing behind a struggling Coyotes defense, and Edmonton’s isn’t exactly top in the league in that department, but he could be an upgrade. The Coyotes are a team that could make the deal with Campbell included. If Edmonton retained a little, the sweeteners might not have to be as painful.
James Reimer – Detroit Red Wings
James Reimer of the Detroit Red Wings emerges as an option despite his age (35). With a reasonable cap hit of $1.5 million, acquiring Reimer could offer the Oilers a cost-effective solution without having to include Jack Campbell in the deal. Both Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal and Allan Mitchell of The Athletic threw his name out there.
Matheson suggested old friends Holland and Steve Yzerman might be open to doing business, but what would Detroit want in return, especially if Campbell were included? Meanwhile, Mitchell notes, “His cap hit ($1.5 million) means the Oilers could acquire him without having to include Campbell (and the assets required to make that happen) in a potential deal.”
Reimer is pending unrestricted and the cost shouldn’t be too dear.
Jake Allen – Montreal Canadiens
The Oilers have been reportedly scouting the Montreal Canadiens and looking at all three of their goalies — Jake Allen, Cayden Primeau, and Sam Montembeault. Allen seems to be drawing the most attention among insiders.
The Canadiens might not be inclined to take on Campbell’s contract but they have done these kinds of trades in the past. In fact, Kent Hughes has become quite adept at them. The Canadiens would likely ask for young pieces that they could insert into their lineup. Names like Ryan McLeod and Warren Foegele might draw attention.
Juuse Saros – Nashville Predators
The jackpot of the lot would be Jusse Saros of the Nashville Predators. He’s also probably the biggest long-shot. With two-years and $10 million left on his deal ($5 million per season) the Predators are looking to re-sign him. To acquire him, the Oilers might need to part ways with valuable assets, including a young roster player, a top prospect, a first-round pick in 2024, and a conditional second-round pick in 2026.
This would be a hockey trade. It would be the Predators eyeing a piece they like from the Oilers and Edmonton getting the goalie they need.
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