The Edmonton Oilers were not the desired team for goaltender Antti Raanta when he finally unveiled which team he decided to sign with. Rather it was the Chicago Blackhawks who have announced the signing of Raanta to a one-year entry level deal according to Bob McKenzie via Twitter.
The Oilers were said to be one of a few clubs that Raanta was deciding between. The Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild were the others and late last week we heard that he had said no to the Wild, leaving the Oilers and Jets as the proverbial front runners. When Raanta took to his personal Twitter account on Friday declaring he had made his decision, everyone was in the dark as we awaited the word on where the 24-year old would sign; everyone but the Blackhawks it seems.
The delayed announcement was based on the Blackhawks playing back-to-back playoff games on Saturday and Sunday and the organization didn’t want to create a distraction with the signing.
For Edmonton, they lose out on a young and promising talent who was head and shoulders the best goaltender in the Finnish Elite League this past season. Walking away with the league MVP, Raanta falls in line with other Finnish goaltenders who have made a fine career out of stopping pucks. Whether or not Raanta can translate his European success to North America will remain to be seen but the Blackhawks, like so many other teams appear to be willing to take that chance.
The Oilers are now left to explore other options to shore up their talent in the crease. Devan Dubnyk will return as the all likelihood number one goalie, or at least a one-A, depending on who the Oilers decide to add during this off-season.
Soon to be free-agent Nikolai Khabibulin may not have a place on the Oilers roster with potential free-agents such as Mike Smith of the Coyotes, Niklas Backstrom of the Wild and Anton Khudobin of the Bruins to name a few, that could be attractive to Craig MacTavish.
The Oilers were in the mix right up until the end on Raanta it would appear and while adding him to the Oilers’ roster would have been a welcomed addition, there are still plenty of external options that make a lot of sense for the Copper and Blue. We’ll examine those options later this week when we begin our free-agent stock watch here at Oil on Whyte.