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Strange Things Are Afoot At The Circle-K

Oilers put Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on LTIR, is there a goaltender on the move?

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers made several moves today. Let’s pick each one apart with a somewhat fine-toothed comb.

  • The Oilers have waived Kyle Turris. I know, I know, we all thought everything was going to turn around after spending that offseason training in Edmonton. 8:47 a game over 21 games this year and four points in the bottom six. If he makes it to Bakersfield, he’ll free up a million in cap space on the big club.
  • The Oilers have put Tim Söderlund on unconditional waivers. You will remember Söderlund as the player that came over with Duncan Keith from the Chicago Blackhawks this past offseason. Söderlund has split time between the Condors and the Wichita Thunder (ECHL) this season. There was a slim chance that Söderlund would ever have seen time in an Oiler sweater past a preseason matchup. Söderlund played just seven games in Bakersfield this year and did not register a point. Good luck to wherever you land next.
  • Edmonton has recalled Seth Griffith to the taxi squad. With Turris headed down, Griffith stands a good chance to get into some game action soon. Griffith’s 33 points in 26 games leads Bakersfield in points, though I’d like to see Cooper Marody sometime before the year 2027.
  • Mike Smith has been placed on IR. Smith’s last action was on December 31st when he was on the ice against the New Jersey Devils, he’s been out with a partially torn tendon in his thumb. Smith has been bitten by injuries for the majority of the season, appearing in just six games so far. Currently, Mikko Koskinen and Ilya Konovalov are the active goaltenders on the Oilers’ main roster.
  • The Oilers have placed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on LTIR. It’s a move I didn’t see coming, but it would appear to signal that something is about to happen.

LTIR will allow the Oilers to go over the cap by Nugent-Hopkins’ 5.125MM cap with until he’s ready to come back. How I read this? I’d venture a guess that Mikko Koskinen could be moved in the near future with a goaltender coming back. How could that possibly work?

One scenario could play out something like this: with Nugent-Hopkins eligible to come back in just four days, his absence will give the Oilers enough cap flexibility to swing for a goaltender with a smaller cap hit. (Martin Jones at 2.0MM fits well within this space and is UFA after this year) This also could give them enough wiggle room to fit rumoured acquisition Evander Kane for the remainder of the year. Nugent-Hopkins is eligible to come back next week, the Oilers get their cap situation close to where it was prior to him going on LTIR, and that’s two moves in a short period of time.

Koskinen is a UFA after this year, as is Jones.

I think the Oilers are going to try to make a move for a goaltender after Saturday’s game versus Calgary, though I don’t think a deal for Jones, or Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo is necessarily an improvement over what they already have in goal now. I’d bet that Stuart Skinner plays an expanded role with the Oilers in the 2022-23 season, but the cards read like a goaltender might be headed to Edmonton sooner than later.