Correction: We originally posted the source as Jonathan Willis of The Athletic. It was Daniel-Nugent Bowman of The Athletic who wrote that Fleury and Gibson might be of interest. The corrections have been made in the article.
If the Edmonton Oilers are looking at improving their goaltending situation this season, Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic has two names in mind that he believes might be on general manager Ken Holland’s radar. The scribe acknowledges that Holland hasn’t bailed on the idea that Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen can get the Oilers where he wants them to be. At the same time, there might be two better options out there if injuries and poor play continue to be a storyline in Edmonton.
Smith’s early injury issues are troubling, especially if they continue. Koskinen has had excellent outings this season, all except for one. Unfortunately, it’s the bad ones people remember. If Koskinen can shake off the bad game and rebound, there’s likely little issue. If Smith returns and remains healthy, even better. Should that not happen, Holland may need to look elsewhere. Willis believes John Gibson and Marc-Andre Fleury could be candidates.
Noting that Gibson has another five seasons on his current deal in Anaheim, he would cost a pretty penny to acquire. There’s no guarantee the Ducks want to move him either. However, if things continue to go south in Chicago, Fleury could be on the move. At the very least, that rumor will start to make the rounds.
If it does, expect Edmonton to be in on the conversation if Fleury is open to the idea.
Logically, Fleury should be. He wasn’t eager to jump to Chicago in the first place and the way their season has gone might be quick to depart. The Blackhawks have been anything but competitive and seeing as how Fleury is a pending UFA, he likely only helps Chicago this season. The Oilers might be able to offer Fleury a chance to play on a winning team and take a run at the Stanley Cup. All the Oilers seem to be missing is a playoff-proven goalie, assuming their defense holds up.
Nugent-Bowman explains that it won’t cost the Oilers much to acquire Fleury if both the goalie and the Blackhawks consider adding him a failed experiment. Willis writes:
Given Fleury’s age (37 in November) and contract status, it shouldn’t cost the Oilers a ton to acquire him. However, given their cap constraints (more on that later), they’ll need to come close to making the money work. If they’re dumping Koskinen in the deal (and, remember, he has a partial no-trade clause, too), they’ll almost certainly have to add a sweetener.
What Will the Oilers Have to Give Up?
Even if the cost isn’t great, Edmonton would need to give to get. Nugent-Bowman notes that Kailer Yamamoto might be among the names discussed and if that doesn’t pan out, prospects like Dylan Holloway, Philip Broberg, and 2021 first-rounder Xavier Bourgault will be tossed out there by the Blackhawks. Nugent-Bowman doesn’t think the Oilers will be keen to move Holloway, but adds that the team “shouldn’t be fearful of losing other prospects if that’s what it takes to get them the right player.”
What might be key to all of this is timing. If the Oilers make a decision on their netminding before it proves to be a real issue, they may have leverage that doesn’t exist once teams know they’re in a dire need to make a change. For Chicago, they’ll want to move Fleury before it’s clear he wants out of the team has little choice left but to trade him.
As Nugent-Bowman mentions, Holland isn’t prepared to make a deal yet. One would presume he wants to see what he’s got first and possibly test out Stuart Skinner before he invests heavily in adding a rental. This is especially true if the Blackhawks bring up the Oilers’ first-round pick in 2022.
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