Highly sought after Finnish netminder Antti Raanta took to Twitter on Friday to inform the hockey world that he has made his decision as to which NHL team he will sign with. The Edmonton Oilers are one of three teams that have been pursuing Raanta, the others include the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild.
Raanta, 24, has played in the Finnish Elite League for the last five years and this past season was by far his best. Playing for the Assat Pori, Raanta went 21-10-11 with a 1.85 GAA, a save percentage of .943 and recorded five shutouts. He also led his club to the league title in addition to being named the league MVP, the top goaltender and the post-season MVP. Not bad for a 24-year old.
The Oilers are in pursuit of Raanta but an article on ESPN.com (Insider sub’n req’d) states that the Wild were said to be in hot pursuit of the netminder. As of this hour the Wild have yet to hear anything from Raanta or his camp pertaining to his decision, leaving Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wondering Minnesota is not his choice.
Should the Oilers win the Raanta sweepstakes, it would surely spell an end to the Nikolai Khabibulin era in Edmonton. It could also complicate things in the crease with Devan Dubnyk, who has been labelled as the number one goalie for the Oilers. But signing Raanta could open up a healthy competition for Dubnyk, something that might not be all bad considering not all Oiler fans are sold on the idea of Dubnyk being the guy to lead this club to the postseason.
If the Oilers wind up being the club that Raanta chooses, it would mark the second overseas player that Craig MacTavish has signed in the past week. Late last week the Oilers signed Anton Belov, a tall, rugged defenseman who played last season in the KHL.
Changes were promised in Edmonton when MacTavish took over the GM role and so far he’s trying his best to live up to that promise by singing Belov. Snagging Raanta would be a second positive change for the newly led Oilers and it’s one that could help shore up the questions in goal.
Stay tuned, as this story continues to unfold we’ll keep you posted right here at Oil on Whyte.