For now, the Edmonton Oilers seem to have found a solution to their goaltending concerns. The team claimed Troy Grosenick off of waivers on Saturday from the Los Angeles Kings and GM Ken Holland has brought in a netminder with a little NHL experience after getting bad news on two fronts over the past few days. Unfortunately, the key word when it comes to Grosenick playing in the NHL is “little.”
Grosenick took the warmup for the Kings on January 14th before their opening game, but he’s only played two NHL games throughout his professional hockey career. That was back with the San Jose Sharks in the 2014-15 season, when he went 1-1 and posted a .948 save percentage.
Still, the alternative for Edmonton was to go with either Stuart Skinner or Oliver Rodrigue, neither of which have any games.
With designated backup Mike Smith on LTIR, the Oilers needed to add some goaltending depth. It’s not clear how long Smith will be gone or if he’ll return but the Oilers were left scrambling because they didn’t just lose Smith. They lost designated third-string goaltender Anton Forsberg in the same week. Edmonton placed Forsberg on waivers — both because they didn’t know about Smith’s issues and because they figured he might slip through. He didn’t. In fact, he got waived and claimed twice.
For now, the Oilers will go with 31-year-old Grosenick. He was signed by Los Angeles early in unrestricted free agency to play behind Jonathan Quick and Calvin Petersen. Petersen wasn’t available to start the season, so Grosenick made their opening night roster. When Petersen came back, the Kings waived their third-stringer.
Grosenick has been pretty good in the AHL. Last year, he played in 33 games with AHL Milwaukee, posting a 2.29 GAA with a .920 SV% along with two shutouts. While it’s not the same as the NHL, it’s a decent sign that if he makes it into the Oilers lineup, he won’t be completely overwhelmed.
What’s Next For the Oilers?
Needless to say, the Oilers aren’t likely to call this matter settled. Grosenick is not the backup Edmonton will be sticking with over the course of the rest of the 2020-21 season (although he might remain the third-string option) and they’ll have three options.
First, they can continue to search for goaltenders via trade, free agency or the waiver wire. Second, they can wait out whatever is ailing Mike Smith. Third (and likely also), they can ride Mikko Koskinen as far as he’ll be able to take them.
The Oilers have a fairly team-friendly schedule over the next month, all things considered. There are plenty of breaks with little back-to-back action for Koskinen, thus he’ll get some rest in a very shortened and condensed season.
All that said, the Oilers are a few bad games or an injury away from hitting the panic button. They probably have their hand hovering above it already.
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