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Oilers Face Re-Emerging Goalie Issue as Trade Deadline Nears

A goalie issue sorted before the NHL All-Star break is an issue again for the Edmonton Oilers. What is the trade deadline plan?

An issue that looked like it had sorted itself out just before the NHL All-Star break, the Edmonton Oilers find themselves in a goaltending quandary as they approach the trade deadline. The play of goaltender Stuart Skinner over the 16-game winning streak was incredible. But, since the break, his recent performance is raising concerns about the team’s postseason prospects. As such, the Oilers, who were focused on a forward or a defenseman at the deadline, might have to re-enter the goalie market.

Skinner, who showcased elite goaltending between mid-November and late January, has seen a sharp decline in his performance over the past five games, posting a sub-.900 save percentage since the All-Star break. The 25-year-old goaltender’s inconsistency is obvious in his save percentages by month this season ranging from .863 to .953.

In a recent interview following an OT loss to the Boston Bruins, Skinner acknowledged the challenge of staying focused when things don’t go his way. The Oilers, currently facing a goaltending dilemma, must decide whether they can rely on Skinner as their No. 1 goaltender entering the postseason. This isn’t to say he’s not a No. 1. This is more asking the question, what happens if he struggles, gets tired, or goes on a negative run during a short playoff series where the Oilers need strong netminding?

While the allure of acquiring a star forward or a stalwart defenseman is enticing, there’s a growing consensus that the Oilers’ priority should be securing a reliable backup goaltender.

Why Aren’t the Oilers Give Calvin Pickard a Longer Look?

Calvin Pickard has performed admirably in a backup role, but his lack of recent NHL playoff experience raises concerns. The only way for the Oilers to know what they have in Pickard is to play him, something the club seems hesitant to do. Pickard’s numbers — especially for someone who comes in after taking multiple games off — are strong. There’s evidence to suggest he could play well if given a bigger role.

Calvin Pickard was excellent in the Edmonton Oilers win and he might be earning himself a full-time backup gig after a shutout.

If Skinner struggles and Pickard isn’t the guy, the Oilers need someone else. Before they switch deadline gears, it would be critical they learn that Pickard is or isn’t capable.

The Trade Deadline Goalie Market for the Oilers

According to Emily Kaplan of ESPN, the goaltending market is simmering as the trade deadline approaches. With names like James Reimer and Jake Allen emerging as potential options for the Oilers, that’s not the upgrade the team is looking for. Allen, with a history of success in the postseason, could provide the stability Edmonton needs but how much will he cost to acquire and is if the Oilers are paying high prices, would a bigger name be a better fit? So too, his $3.85 million cap hit poses a financial challenge, requiring creative solutions, such as the Montreal Canadiens retaining 50 percent of his salary in a trade.

One goalie generating significant interest is Marc-Andre Fleury, although his current status with the Minnesota Wild remains uncertain. Fleury, known for his competitive spirit and desire to play, may become a trade option if the Wild find themselves out of playoff contention. He’ll want to play, so if he’s going to consider the Oilers, again, they need to be able to tell him he’s got a shot at suiting up a lot.

The big get is Juuse Saros out of Nashville. The Predators are reportedly considering moves involving their goaltender, adding intrigue to the goaltending market. The Oilers and Predators have a history of big trades too.

As the trade deadline approaches, the Oilers need more clarification on their goaltending situation. Whether they choose to stick with Skinner or explore options in the market, securing a reliable netminder is crucial for their postseason aspirations.

Next: Erik Karlsson to Senators: Is the Reunion Possible?

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