Along with the rest of the Edmonton Oilers, Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth didn't have great seasons in 2014-15. In 57 games, Scrivens finished with a less than desirable .890 overall SV%, while Viktor Fasth ambled to a .888%. That's fine if it's 1987, but if the club is yielding an average of over three goals per game (and not scoring more than four) n 2015, you're underwater by a fair bit.
The Oilers need a goalie. Yes, they signed Finnish prospect Eetu Laurikainen to an entry level deal a couple of weeks ago, but Laurikainen won't likely be seeing much time in Edmonton next year.
The Oilers need a goalie. You know what? Antti Niemi is one. Can the Oilers make it happen?
CAN WE MAKE IT WORK?
The UFA goaltending crop this year is kind of tight. After Niemi, there are only about three or four other viable options who I would consider as possible number ones. Niemi will be 32 in August, his cap hit was 3.8M a year for the past four years. Does he fit on the 2015-16 Edmonton Oilers?
WHY IT COULD WORK
Niemi plays a lot of games every year, which is something the Oilers really need. Over the past four full seasons, Niemi has averaged 63 GP per year, which says that he's a fairly healthy specimen. Niemi saw a lot of rubber last year, finishing tenth in the league with 1,656 saves, ninth in the league in minutes played (3,588) and he finished with five shutouts, good for eighth in the league on a Sharks team that finished twelfth in the Western Conference. Should Niemi find his way to Rexall Place, he'd unquestionably be the starter for the Oilers.
WHY IT MIGHT NOT WORK
Goaltending has long been regarded as some form of witchery, and while Niemi would be an instant upgrade, there's questions as to whether his arrows are ticking downward. Niemi finished with a .914 SV% last season, which isn't awful, and he finished with a .913 SV% in 201314. That's a lot better than what Ben Scrivens had this past season (.890), but is it safe to say that Niemi has peaked? He's two years removed from a +.920 year. Will Niemi be OK with a year in transition? What about his relationship with Todd McLellan? Is McLellan OK with Niemi for a couple of years as the number one? Is a hot dog a sandwich?
CAN IT WORK?
It might. If the Oilers handed Niemi a two year deal, I think things could be just fine. My concern here is that Niemi realizes that he'll soon be 32 and that he'll want the farm and a moose on a contract. What if the Oilers flop out a 70 point season? It surely wouldn't look good on the surface for Antti Niemi. Like all deals, if the term is right, and the price is right, you go for it. It would provide Edmonton some much needed stability in goal, and would cross off one of the big question marks going into 2015-16.
Two years, 4.5M/year. That sounds a bit expensive, but it's exactly what Nikita Nikitin is making. Because I think so highly of the San Jose Sharks, I'll ship them Andrew Ference or Nikitin as a free gift, no questions asked. But call now, quantities are limited.