When Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli gave his year end press briefing, he mentioned goaltending as an area of concern moving forward. The team believes, rightfully so, in Cam Talbot as their starter. It’s not apparent that the team believes in Al Montoya, the backup goaltender acquired in January.
The thought process is that the club will need a goalie who can not only spell Talbot and play 20-25 games in a season, but also push the veteran in a contract year. Luckily for the Oilers, there are a few options for that role in free agency this summer.
Boston Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin may have saved the season depending on which Boston media member you ask. With Tuukka Rask struggling, head coach Bruce Cassidy benched his starter in November and handed the job to Khudobin briefly.
Not only did Khudobin push Rask, but he gave the Bruins a number of quality starts. 31 appearances to be exact.
Why Is He Out There?:
Khudobin will be a free agent on July 1st and could be looking for a chance to compete for the starting job somewhere. With Cam Talbot struggling last year, perhaps he thinks he has that chance in Edmonton.
The Bruins are heavily invested in Rask and it’s his job for the foreseeable future. Khudobin has a comfort level in Boston, but could get a bigger role in a place like Edmonton, where there is no set future in goal.
At 31-years old, this is likely Khudobin’s last chance at pushing for an expanded role somewhere.
The Bruins also have prospect goalie Zane McIntyre ready to make the jump to the NHL.
What Does He Do Well:
Khudobin knows the job of a backup goaltender and has done it well over the years. This season, in 31 games, Khudobin went 16-6-7 with a .913 SV% and 2.56 GAA. He’s never posted a sub-.900 SV% in the NHL and has multiple seasons of over 30 appearances under his belt.
He knows his role, has proven he can be successful in it and can stop pucks. He’s not a sexy name and certainly won’t win a Vezina Trophy anytime soon, but Khudobin is a proven backup goalie that can help just about any team.
Here’s a look at Khudobin’s scouting report via The Hockey News.
Assets: Has an abundance of puck-stopping ability. Is cool under pressure and plenty agile. Can put up great statistics at lower levels. Can be a sound No. 1 netminder in the NHL (in a pinch).
Flaws: Is wildly inconsistent, which hinders his National Hockey League value. Also lacks the ideal height for a goalkeeper at the highest level. Injuries have been a huge issue for him.
Career Potential: Inconsistent but talented goaltender, when healthy.
Where Will He Play/Where Should He Play:
Barring a surprise trade of Cam Talbot, any goaltender the Edmonton Oilers sign this summer will either be the backup to Talbot or the starter for the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. If the goaltender is Khudobin, I’d wager he is backing up Talbot on opening day.
In reality, that is exactly the role this player should be in. As I mentioned above, Khudobin is a legit NHL backup who has proven his worth in that position many times over.
What Will He Cost:
Khudobin is finishing a two-year contract with Boston that pays him $1,200,000 per year. I’d wager that a one-year deal in the same neighborhood in terms of AAV would get the deal done. Let’s say one-year at $1,350,000 to pry him out of Boston?
That’s a salary in line with most backups in today’s NHL.
The Edmonton Oilers have tried a few options (Montoya, Laurent Brossoit, Jonas Gustavsson) the last two seasons in the backup spot. None of them have really worked out for the club and Chiarelli admitted as much in his season recap.
It appears adding a goalie will be on the shopping list this summer, and Khudobin represents a realistic and affordable option that would fill a hole for the club. These are exactly the kind of solutions the Oil need.
Chiarelli brought Khudobin in once before (2010 season in Boston) and I wouldn’t put it past him to do it again. It wouldn’t be a bad move either.