Oilers make goalie search top priority, GM says

MONTREAL — The Edmonton Oilers’ search for another goaltender is their top priority, general manager Ken Holland said Friday.

“I need one. I have to get one. It’s as simple as that,” Holland told NHL.com at the end of the 2022 NHL Upper Deck Draft at the Bell Centre. “There are a lot of things we would like to do, but none of that can really be resolved until the goalkeeper situation is sorted out. That’s the goal.”

With the free agent market opening on Wednesday, two goaltenders expected to be available are the Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Colorado avalanche, and Jack Campbell of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Oilers could also try to add via trade, but Holland said they are limited in project capital or prospects they can offer in return.

Mikko Koskinen, who was 27-12-4 with a 3.10 goals-against average and 0.903 save percentage this season, has signed a two-year contract with Swiss Elite HC Lugano League on June 13. 4.02 GAA and .897 save percentage in three relief appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Holland said Thursday that mike smith, who was 16-9-2 with a 2.81 GAA and .915 save percentage, hasn’t decided whether he’ll return next season. There’s also the possibility that Smith, who turned 40 in March and has one season left on a two-year contract, could be placed on the long-term injured reserve, which would give the Oilers more breathing room. salary cap. Various injuries limited Smith to five games in the first half of the season.

Edmonton also has Stuart Skinnerwho was 6-6-0 with a 2.62 GAA and .913 save percentage in 13 games (12 starts).

“We’re happy with the way Stuart has developed and played,” Holland said of Skinner. “But he’s the only goalkeeper we have at the moment, and at best he’s a 1B.

“Once again, I need a goalkeeper. Some guys changed jobs today. City Husso went to Detroit. (Vitek) Vanecek went to New Jersey from Washington. Marc-Andre Fleury was re-signed by Minnesota. So, a lot of things happened. Either way, we have to get one.”

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The Oilers created some capping space when forward Zach Kassian was traded to the Arizona Coyotes, with the No. 29 pick in the 2022 draft (defender Maveric Lamoureux) a second-round draft pick from the NHL in 2024 and a second-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft, for the No. 32 pick (forward Reid Schaefer) on Thursday.

“But I have to put this money for (the defender) Nurse Darnell“Holland said. “His salary jumped by $3.5 million between last season and the one to come. We also have restricted free agents. You have to take all of that into account.”

Holland said he had a dialogue with the representatives of the front Evander Kane, who can become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday, but little progress has been made. The 30-year-old had 39 points (22 goals, 17 assists) in 43 games after signing a one-year contract with Edmonton on Jan. 27.

Attackers Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan McLeod can become restricted free agents on Wednesday.

“When I look at the big board in my office, I have a certain amount of money allocated to Kane or potentially another offensive player, and I also have a certain amount allocated to our RFAs,” Holland said. “And there are rumors that (the defender) Duncan Keith will be retiring, although nothing is official. But before you can do anything else, getting the goalkeeper is the priority.

“We’ll see what happens next week, but that’s the plan.”

Amanda J. Marsh