Oilers: 4 Free-Agent Targets to Replace Mike Smith in Net

The Edmonton Oilers didn’t get the goaltending they needed after Round 1 of the playoffs and for half of the regular season. This was inevitably the team’s biggest downfall and why they are now eliminated. Starting goaltender Mike Smith has one year remaining on his deal at $2.2 million, while Mikko Koskinen is said to have a deal in place in the National League (NL) in Switzerland.

The Oilers have young goaltender Stuart Skinner who should be part of the tandem next season, but they have seen enough to know they can’t trust the 40-year-old Smith to carry them any further than the conference finals next season. This means the Oilers should be looking to move out Smith and get themselves a legitimate starting goaltender to help them get over that hump. Here are the top free-agent options the Oilers should consider signing this offseason.

Darcy Kuemper

Not the best timing as the Oilers were just eliminated by the Colorado Avalanche, but it wasn’t at the hands of Darcy Kuemper. Pavel Francouz actually played most of the series as Kuemper was injured halfway through Game 1, and Francouz won all four games. Kuemper was healthy enough to be the backup in Game 4, but the Avalanche decided to go with Francouz instead.

This doesn’t mean the Avalanche don’t want to re-sign Kuemper, but it’s a confidence boost for Francouz and shows that the team would be fine without the goaltender they went out and paid a good amount for last offseason. This is where the Oilers come in. They were right next to the Avalanche as the top teams in contention to land Kuemper in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes in 2021, but the Avalanche offered a better prospect. The Oilers then needed to put their trust in the Smith/Koskinen tandem for one more season, and it ended in the conference final.

The Oilers are fortunate that Smith took them as far as he did, but, in 2022-23, the Oilers must have a change in net. Kuemper is without a deal for next season and may test free agency, especially if he wins the Stanley Cup. The Oilers would have to give him a nice payday, but paying top dollar for the last piece of the puzzle in a search for a Cup with two of the best players in the world in their primes would be worth it.

His career numbers are impressive, with a 143-95-36 record, a 2.48 goals-against average (GAA), a .918 save percentage (SV%), and 25 shutouts; his SV% this season was higher than his career average. Kuemper is 32 years old and is more injury-prone than the average goaltender. That is a risk, and the Oilers may be hesitant on the term he will likely ask for after another great season in net.

Author: Lucy Green