One of the teams with the most eyeballs in terms of what they’ll do in the off-season has to be the team that plays in the capital of Alberta.
The Edmonton Oilers are a team that many expect will make some level of significant roster changes and that doesn’t exclude the goaltending position going into 2021-22.
There are quite a few signs pointing Mike Smith towards a return, but not so much Mikko Koskinen whose name has come up often either in a trade or a buyout. The question now remains who’ll be a part of a tandem with Smith, most likely taking up the bulk of the starts with Smith serving as a backup when need be for next season.
Here’s a few candidates to watch this off-season:
Chris Driedger, Florida Panthers
Florida is already taking calls on the pending UFA, but if he does end up going to the market before any trade, he’s someone that Ken Holland and company should be keeping an eye on.
Driedger’s regular season saw him put up a 14-6-3 record with a GAA of 2.07 and a save percentage of .927 in a year that saw the Panthers finish in second in the Central Division. Dredger offers a younger option in net as a starter for the Oilers, who leaned heavily on the 39-year-old Smith. Could he be a long-term option? At 27, potentially, but it could really pan out for the Oilers.
Linus Ullmark, Buffalo Sabres
There haven’t been many things to cheer about when it’s come to the Buffalo Sabres, but one of the bright spots has been the play of Linus Ullmark.
Ullmark’s 2020-21 season saw him go 9-6-3 with a GAA of 2.63, but he was stuck on a franchise that’s failed even hit the 80 point mark since 2015-16. He’s coming off a year where he made $2.6 million and missed most of it due to an injury. There’s a lot of attention on Ullmark this summer, and it may cost Ken Holland a pretty penny. If Ullmark is really the real deal Sabres fans believe he can be, it might be worth it.
Phillipp Grubauer, Colorado Avalanche
Grubauer is the most accomplished name on the list by far and he’d be a very welcome addition if there’s interest on his end. Grubauer is coming off a phenomenal season with the Avalanche that saw him nominated for the Vezina with a mark of 30-9-2. Grubauer would bring stability to Edmonton’s net that would harken back to the 2016-18 run of Cam Talbot as the Oilers starting netminder at his peak.
In another season in which the Avalanche were unable to get past the second round after a strong regular season, the Oilers front office should be looking at seeing if Grubauer is interested in a fresh start in Alberta.