Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith formed a decent, if not unspectacular, tandem in goal for the Edmonton Oilers this past season. Koskinen posted a .917 save percentage, and further cemented himself as a solid 1B goaltending option. The veteran Smith was up and down all season long, finishing with a subpar .902 save percentage.
Koskinen has two more seasons remaining on a contract that carries a $4,500,000 AAV and a modified no-trade clause. Smith, meanwhile, will be an unrestricted free agent in October.
With a plethora of goaltenders hitting the free agent market and expected to be on the trade market this fall, a change seems likely. Color commentator and team insider Bob Stauffer hinted at that on August 13th.
“I would expect to see a change in goaltending and at least one change to the defense. Take that for what it’s worth,” Stauffer said on his ‘Oilers Now’ show late last week.
He wasn’t the only connected reporter hinting at a change in goal for the Oilers. Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed that topic on the latest edition of ‘31 Thoughts: The Podcast‘.
“Again, we talked about how many goalies are going to be available. He got the Game 1 start, it wasn’t entirely his fault, but he couldn’t keep it,” Friedman said when asked by Marek if the Oilers would retain Smith. “You know who I could see in Edmonton? A guy like (Thomas) Griess. Or (Anton) Khudobin. I see that. I see that kind of guy coming to Edmonton.”
Griess appeared in 31 games for the New York Islanders this past season, posting a 16-9-4 record. He also had a strong .913 save percentage and a 2.74 goals against average.
In 2018-19, Griess and tandem-mate Semyon Varlamov won the William M. Jennings Trophy. He went 23-14-2 that season with a .927 save percentage and a 2.28 GAA.
Griess isn’t a workhorse, but has proven year after year that he is capable of playing 40-45 games and posting strong numbers. With Koskinen almost certainly coming back for the 2020-21 season, that’s really all the Oilers need. Depending on the price, Griess on a short-term deal could be a solid solution for the Oilers.
Khudobin, meanwhile, played in 30 games for the Dallas Stars this past season. He went 16-8-4 with a .930 save percentage and a 2.22 GAA.
Khudobin has played at least 30 games in each of the last three seasons, and has posted at least a .913 save percentage. Again, he isn’t a workhorse, but Khudobin has proven to be a solid tandem goalie during his career.
Will one of these two be the solution to Ken Holland’s problem? There is no doubt there needs to be some improvement in goal if the Oilers are going to take the next step. Both Greiss and Khudobin are upgrades on Smith, and should give the Oilers a little more consistency in net.
Of course, they are far from the only options that will be available in free agency this October.