Oilers face the concern of ever-growing competition for goalie help

The Oilers ideally need to trade for someone to help in the crease, but there are other teams in a similar position, with the number only expected to increase.
Edmonton Oilers v New York Rangers
Edmonton Oilers v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Yes, yes, we know - this season has seen us write an ungodly amount about the goalie situation in Edmonton. However, this doesn't change the reality the Oilers do need to strengthen the position in order to help their quest to get back into playoff contention.

As of the Christmas break the Oilers sit fourth-bottom in the Western Conference, five points out of a playoff spot. Even allowing for the recent upturn in positive results under Kris Knoblauch, overall they've still been too streaky so far in 2023-24.

As much as the offence has been up-and-down, it's the overall defensive production which has been lacking more. At the time of posting, the Oilers are ranked eighth-worst in average goals allowed per game and second-worst in team save percentage.

That's right; as much as Stuart Skinner has played better of late in winning 11 of his past 15 starts, he's still not up to his standard of last season. And while Calvin Pickard has proved to be an improvement on Jack Campbell -- not that it was that difficult to do so -- he's still not really a long-term solution as the primary backup.

Trading for that quality goaltender

Which brings us back to the Oilers' need for a quality option via the trade market, whether it be as a backup or potentially to play in tandem with Skinner. However, this is easier said than done.

Oilers fans are painfully aware of the financial issues, by way of the team's tight salary cap situation. As per Cap Friendly, at the time of writing the projected cap space is a mere $65,098.

The financial complications also extend to Campbell's five-year, $25 million contract. No one in their right mind would take on an annual cap hit of $5 million, for a player who is struggling like never before and conceivably may never recover.

The Oilers have made enquiries about a number of goalies, sent scouts to games and so on, but have held off on pulling the trigger up to this point. This was down to a combination of several factors, including it being too soon, hoping Campbell would find some form, not being able to agree a trade package which would suit both sides, and so on.

However, it's getting to a point now where the Oilers really do need to strengthen the goalie position. And because they've waited so long, they are now encountering another issue which only figures to get worse between now and the March 8 trade deadline.

Oilers not the only ones needing help

More specifically, other NHL teams also in need of an upgrade between the pipes. Chief among these are the Leafs, who while they have one of the league's best records, are currently having to navigate the disaster that is Ilya Samsonov.

Like Campbell in Edmonton, Samsonov was signed to be the number one netminder in Toronto. However, again like Campbell, it's all gone terribly wrong for him, thus the Leafs' need to find someone better, or risk yet another disappointing playoff run.

However, there are also a number of other teams in the playoff chase who need help in goal. We're (at least) talking about the likes of the Red Wings, Hurricanes, Devils and Penguins.

That's already a lot of competition for the Oilers, if they are to find the goalie they so desperately need. The problem is, how many other teams are going to find themselves in a similar position as we edge ever close to the trade deadline?

The Oilers do have at least one trump card they can play, with speculation indicating they are prepared to move Philip Broberg. Certainly he's a prospect with tantalising potential who could entice other teams, in order to clinch that invaluable upgrade.

Of course, even this trump card does not come without risk. No matter how much Broberg has disappointed up till now -- and he has -- he could still quite easily develop into the top-pairing blue-liner he was projected to be when he was drafted eighth overall by the Oilers in 2019.

Next. Now not the right time for Oilers to call up Rodrigue. Now not the right time for Oilers to call up Rodrgiue. dark

Overall, it figures to be a tenuous path between now and March 8, as the Oilers attempt to find another goalie. And whether it's Elvis Merzlikins, Jake Allen, Juuse Saros, Linus Ullmark or whoever, they're going to have to have a tough fight on their hands with other teams also eagerly in search of quality help in net.