It’s been just a little bit more than a month since the Oilers bowed out unceremoniously from the NHL’s play-in series. Today, our panel of Copper and Blue contributors weigh in on pressing matters in between the pipes, and what Ethan Bear’s next deal might look like.
With us today are Shona, Sunil, Czechboy and Preston.
This is part two of a three part series.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Question: Mikko Koskinen is signed for another two years in Edmonton, while Mike Smith is an unrestricted free agent. What should Ken Holland do between the pipes for the Oilers heading into next season?
Shona: So, I know we have Koskinen. I know that deal is a bit not good. But I don’t see why the Oilers need to double down on not good again. My personal preference would be no more Mike Smith. I don’t think there’s enough positive evidence to merit another contract. I also don’t think that keeping two mediocre goalies for the next few years is a recipe for long term success. Or, you know, success period.
I would like to see them let Smith walk. If they’re going to take a chance on a goalie let it be a cheaper AHL standout. Ideally, I’d love to see them pick up a seasoned goalie on the cheap but I doubt that happens.
Sunil: First, review the process and methodology or whatever that led the Oilers to sign Smith to a contract last summer and fire it into the sun. Retain Koskinen since he’s provided league-average goaltending and expect him to start half of the games next season. His contract is a little high for the amount of workload expected, which makes it even more critical that they not overspend on the second goalie. Who they find as a second goalie doesn’t matter as long as they’ve posted league average numbers over the last few seasons and the acquisition cost is low. The only way the Oilers can acquire a higher-profile goalie like Holtby, or Lehner or Murray is if they’re planning on moving Koskinen – which I don’t suspect there’s much of a market for considering it’s a buyer’s market this off-season. I do like the idea of acquiring a younger goalie who has shown well recently like Alexander Georgiev, but that would require taking on some risk which I don’t think management is comfortable with. Also – look at goaltender coaching/consulting options and pray that one of the goalie prospects in the system continues to develop.
Czechboy: Trade for Geogiev. Draft Askarov. A Koskinen/Georgiev tandem would be more than good enough. Our goaltending won’t be a position of strength but it won’t be a weakness either. I think Koskinen is an average starter to an elite 1B option. No one will take that contract on in trade (thanks Chia) and I’m tired of buyouts (thanks Chia).
Preston: I think the most likely scenario involves the team keeping Koskinen and opting for a UFA goaltender to challenge him. I think a name like Thomas Greiss makes the most sense if the price remains reasonable.
Question: What do the Oilers do with Ethan Bear’s next contract?
Shona: Pay him money? I feel like they’re going to have to fight to get it, but a team friendly long term deal like they have with Klefbom is what they should be aiming for. Also, please don’t trade Klefbom. Just don’t. What they want to avoid is an Oilers specialty and that’s paying way too much after one good season. I see a lot of those elements in Nurse where they liked the pieces they saw developing, but those pieces have kind of stagnated in their development.
Sunil: The same thing that the Oilers did with Klefbom when they recognized his abilities early and wanted to see his best years happen in Edmonton. A long-term deal for Bear is ideal to potentially reduce the annual average value, knowing full well that he could be overpaid in the early years, but holding a value contract over the majority of its term. Financial risk is spread between the team and a player that it drafted and developed and deployed, and it’s how things have to be done in a salary cap world.
Czechboy: Try to get him a Klefbom type deal. Lower cap hit with a longer term. Lock him in before we can’t afford him.
Preston: A bridge contract seems like the most beneficial option for both the Oilers and Bear. I could see a 2-3 year deal with an AAV between 2.5-4 million. After which the team could decide whether or not to extend him on a long term deal.
Our roundtable concludes tomorrow when our panelists talk about all the Klefbom hype and prospective expansion draft candidates.