The trade deadline is tomorrow. Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is on the record saying that the club isn’t going to make any big moves. While it’s refreshing to get the all-clear that he won’t be sending Jordan Eberle to the Islanders for some paper plates and a fourth round pick, there’s still a couple of little moves that could be made to help the Oilers down the stretch run.
One of these moves is to acquire a veteran backup goaltender.
BUT TALBOT WILL PLAY FOREVER
This isn’t rocket science. The Oilers need a backup goaltender for a few reasons, and they should all be abundantly clear. God forbid that if Talbot goes down with an ailment lasting longer than a game, you’re going to want a goaltender with some NHL experience to come in and play. Secondly, Talbot has played 56 games already this year. That’s exactly the same number that he played in all of last year. With one quarter of the season remaining, maybe they get a guy who can give Talbot a break once every four or five games.
Short of selling a pending UFA to a contender, there’s probably no easier hockey trade to make than to acquire a backup goaltender. They’re plentiful, and right now it’s a buyer’s market.
Here are three that the Oilers should peep:
Keith Kinkaid is 27 years of age and has spent his entire pro career with the Devils. A veteran of sixty NHL games, he’s running with a .913 SV% in 17 games with New Jersey this year. Kinkaid went undrafted, and signed his first pro contract with the Devils after his second season for Union College (ECAC).
Neuvirth was on my trade radar when the Oilers went and signed Jonas Gustavsson at the first possible moment during free agency last summer. Neuvirth signed a two year deal in Philadelphia with an AAV of 1.625. He tore it up last season with a .924 SV% in 32 games, though he’s staring down a .887 SV% this year. Tandem partner Steve Mason isn’t holding it together right now either (.900 SV%). Neuvirth had a .918 SV% as a member of the Buffalo Sabres in 2014-15, a period of time where he saw a TON of rubber.
You’ll no doubt recall Nilsson as he backed up Cam Talbot just last year. Nilsson’s career SV% of .907 doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but he’s having what could be called a career year in Buffalo. In 21 games, he’s hitting a .921 SV% in relief of Robin Lehner. The Sabres should be in full sell mode after dropping back to back games in Colorado and Arizona, and Nilsson could be the guy to fit the bill.
Almost Any Other Goaltender Not Named Ondrej Pavelec
Don’t trade for Ondrej Pavelec.
A BUYER’S MARKET
The time to strike is...well, anytime before 3 PM Eastern tomorrow. Steve Yzerman dealt Ben Bishop to the LA Kings for Peter Budaj because Bishop’s contract expires this year, and according to Steve Yzerman, the Kings were the only team to make an offer.
If this is the first year in 11 that the Oilers have a chance at playing hockey after the regular season ends, the Oilers would be foolish to not grab one of these goalies. Or any other goalie like Reto Berra or Jhonas Enroth or Jaroslav Halak if the Islanders want to hold some salary.
Just not Pavelec.
And no more Gustavsson.