Even allowing for the 5-0 shutout win on Thursday night in San Jose, the reality is the Oilers still need to improve their goaltending situation. As of Friday morning, they are ranked 28th in the NHL with a team .889 save percentage and 21st with a 3.31 Goals Against Average (GAA).
Stuart Skinner has all the attributes -- including a tremendous mental fortitude -- to be the long-term answer between the pipes in Edmonton. However, both he individually and the team as a whole, would benefit from some quality depth at the position as they continue their push back into playoff contention.
With this in mind, an interesting report has emerged this week on the NHL Network, in respect of Montreal Canadiens goalie Jake Allen. Hockey host and analyst David Pagnotta said:
"(Trade talks) have certainly sped up and escalated, as teams look at their goaltending. Right before the holiday freeze last week, you had teams like Carolina, New Jersey, the Edmonton Oilers, a couple of other teams checking in ... just to see what the cost is for this goaltender."
Now this isn't the first time the Oilers have been connected with Allen this season. However, the chance of a union between the two parties becoming a reality is extremely unlikely as things stand.
The main reason simply comes down to the Oilers' current financial position. As per Cap Friendly, at the time of posting they only have $238,333 in projected deadline cap space.
In respect of Allen, he is in the first season of a two-year deal with an annual cap hit of $3.85 million. This only further highlights the issue of Jack Campbell's five-year, $25 million contract with the Oilers.
Of course in an ideal world, the Oilers would like to move Campbell as part of any trade for a quality upgrade in net. However, it will be extremely difficult to find a team willing to take him on, given his salary and just the fact he has been awful during his time in Edmonton, to the point this is the worst he's ever looked since coming into the NHL.
There has been talk of the Oilers adding Philip Broberg into any trade package, due to how poorly he's also played during his time in Edmonton. However, this is a risk for someone still perfectly capable of becoming a top-paring blueliner in the long-term.
Returning to Allen, it should be noted he has a seven-team no-trade list for this season. While the odds are reasonable, there is still a chance the Oilers could be one of the teams on his list.
The case against Allen
In truth though, maybe the current set of circumstances are actually a blessing in disguise when it comes to the 2008 34th overall draft pick. As much as he has been a quality goaltender over the years, he's experienced a decline in productivity more recently.
Consider that last season, Allen set single-season career-worsts with a .891 save percentage and 3.55 GAA. Now in fairness he wasn't helped by playing behind a poor defensive team in Montreal, but he still played his part in the overall production as he went 15-24-3 in 41 starts. (He also made another appearance in relief.)
This season seemed to represent a renaissance of sorts for the 2019 Stanley Cup champion, as he produced a 3-1-1, .927 save percentage and 2.72 GAA through five starts. However, he then allowed four goals on just nine shots versus the Lightning and was pulled after only 13:50 minutes of action.
This put Allen into a funk and he just hasn't been the same since. As a result he now has a 4-6-2 record in 12 starts, with a .904 save percentage and 3.43 GAA which would both project to the second-worst of his career over the course of a season.
Overall, we appreciate you can still make a case for the Oilers attempting to do a deal for Allen, given his experience and knowing what it takes to go all the way. However, we would contend there are better options out there for the team to pursue to strengthen the goalie position, albeit while still have to contend with their current financial limitations.