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Oilers Back Up Goalie in 2020-21 May Not Wind Up Being Mike Smith

Could Mike Smith start as the Oilers backup goalie but lose the job by the time the 2020-21 NHL season ends?

Most fans are expecting the Edmonton Oilers to run with a goaltending tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith. But, as one well-respected journalist points out, that may not be the way the tandem looks when the 2020-21 NHL season comes to a close. There is another goalie who has an opportunity and his name is Anton Forsberg.

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According to Allan Mitchell at The Athletic, “Some names unfamiliar to Oilers fans could win roles in the season to come.” He adds, “One prime example: Anton Forsberg could win the backup goalie job in Edmonton during the 2020-21 season.”

For fans who don’t know Forsberg well, he’s a 28-year-old NHL veteran who has hopped around the NHL and been up and down between the NHL and AHL over the past six seasons. He’s played only 48 total games in the NHL but he’s got an opportunity re-establish himself with the Oilers who signed him to a one-year contract in October of 2020.

Mitchell says as Forsberg enters training camp with Edmonton, the 6-foot-3 and 192-pound backstop has some decent numbers outside the NHL. Mitchell labels him “fairly durable, making him a good bet as a No. 3 goalie option.”

But, because being a No. 3 option in the NHL this upcoming season means actually staying with the NHL team instead of playing in the AHL, the Oilers will likely have Forsberg ready to roll at any given moment. Mitchell goes on to say that Forsberg won’t actually be that much further down the depth chart than Mike Smith who struggled on and off last season. Moreover, Smith was prone to hot and cold spurts and if he hits a cold spurt, the Oilers may look to the third-string netminder.

Mitchell goes on to say:

I think it’s reasonable to suggest that all three goalies will play for the Oilers this season and that Holland may be shopping in-season for help if Koskinen-Smith struggle and the club loses sight of a playoff spot.

But, considering trades may be more difficult to maneuver this season, that too works in Forsberg’s favor.

Can Forsberg Win A Long-Term Job?

The answer to whether or not Forsberg can do much more than fill in and win a role this season is probably no. He may get an opportunity during an odd 56-game shortened season, but the Oilers probably have other plans for the 2021-22 campaigns and beyond.

Names like Dylan Wells, Stuart Skinner and Olivier Rodrigue are the future more than Forsberg is. At best, until those guys are ready to the take the next step, should Forsberg slot in and takeover the backup duties, he could win another one-year contract.

Still, that doesn’t mean he’s not a player to watch in the here and now, especially if Smith struggles early.

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