The Edmonton Oilers had a strong draft class in 2017, and it appears that now, they have excellent goaltending depth throughout the organization.
Edmonton traded their 2017 82nd overall pick (from St. Louis), as well as their 2017 126th pick to trade up to the 78th pick, where they drafted hometown goaltender Stuart Skinner. Now, looking back, he may have been an absolute steal; TSN’s Dustin Nielson even mentioned that he wasn’t expecting Skinner to still be available.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound netminder has played three years with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes and is already a franchise record-holder for most regular season games ever played, as well as most saves made. This past season, he boasted a .905 save mark through 60 regular season games, then shined in the postseason with a .916 save percentage. In addition to all of this, he is one of seven goalies in WHL history to score an empty-net goal.
With his impressive numbers and ability, Skinner has a lot of potential and brings a lot of depth and stability to the Oilers’ goaltending depth. In fact, in a couple years time, he could be ready to bring his skill to the AHL and even the NHL.
Looking at his style of game and work ethic, it is easy to see why the 18-year-old was one of the top goalies in the draft. He is a quick netminder with excellent lateral movement, and he is big enough to cover a lot of areas in the crease. He is also equipped to get into the butterfly quickly and has no problem getting across the crease and keeping track of the puck, even with traffic in front.
However, perhaps his style of play is the most surprising; he works incredibly well under pressure and comes up big in critical situations. He does not let adversity stop him in his track, and despite the stakes or situation, he stands tall.
While his 3.26 GAA this past season was not impressive, he faces a lot of shots and still had a strong save percentage. Not only that, stats cannot do him justice. In the end, it is his play, not his numbers, that define his true value.
Overall, the Oilers have a lot of solid depth currently in the crease, and it only gets stronger with Skinner joining the ranks.