Photo Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers Need A Backup Goaltender. Leafs Have Three. Discuss.

With my wife away on business my morning commute this morning meant that I didn’t have an objector to me choosing to listen to TSN Edmonton on the drive in this morning. I consider my wife’s presence somewhat of a blessing because sports radio is terrible and she saves me from myself everyday. Today, I listened, and what I heard is a city that is desperate for a goaltender. With the Leafs having three capable NHL backups, this topic without doubt peaked my interest.

The guest doing the speculating was Frank Seravalli, who wrote about this topic yesterday on TSN.ca

The Oilers’ season could swirl down the drain with two more weeks of shoddy goaltending. Brossoit, 24, has allowed five or more goals in three of his last five starts and has an .872 save percentage this season.

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is working the phones to acquire a stopgap in Talbot’s absence, hastened by Brossoit’s shaky outing on Saturday night as Edmonton nearly blew a 6-1 lead in the Battle of Alberta. Talbot is expected to be out until at least Dec. 14, according to coach Todd McLellan.

The post suggests five targets for the Oilers:

Chad Johnson
Michael Hutchinson
Michal Neuvirth
Petr Mrazek
and Calvin Pickard

On the radio it seems that Seravalli views Neuvirth as the best option, but with Seravalli being based out of Philadelphia, he’s going to be more familiar with him in the same way that I’m writing about the Leafs options. Dustin Nielsen, the host of the show, seemed to be leaning towards Chad Johnson, largely since it wouldn’t mean giving up a significant asset. That probably makes the most sense, but sense and Peter Chiarelli don’t always go hand and hand.

It’s also worth noting that with the Oilers at 49 contracts, both Seravalli and Nielsen speculated that the Oilers are going to want to send a contract the other way to avoid maxing out the NHL contracts. The name that came up was winger Anton Slepyshev.

I haven’t made this about the Leafs yet…

Okay, so let’s hold off on what the Oilers have at this point and talk about the Leafs. The name that was thrown out there by Seravalli was Calvin Pickard and potentially the Leafs would be willing to deal him, especially if they can get something better a sixth round draft pick and Tobias Lindberg in return (fun fact, Lindberg has 1 point in 17 games for the Chicago Wolves).

Personally, of Pickard, Sparks, and McElhinney, Pickard is the goaltender I want to hang onto the most. He has more NHL experience than Sparks, and that experience has been significantly better. After a couple of games of adjusting to the Marlies his numbers have been just as good, if not better than Sparks in the AHL. It’s a nice luxury to have a goaltender with a .933 SV% backing up your starter with a .944 SV%.

Nevertheless, it’s Pickard’s name that is out there and he’s the Leafs goaltender with the expiring contract at the end of the year, so perhaps that’s why he’s being speculated.

Garret Sparks didn’t have his name mentioned but I’d imagine he warrants a bit of consideration as well. The problem is that I really don’t think the Leafs want to part with him. I don’t think they want to promote him this year either though. I think the ultimate appeal of making a goaltending deal would be to get Sparks as many starts as possible on the Marlies this season so he can stick with the Leafs out of camp next year. If the Oilers were to pay a premium for the mystery box that is Sparks, I wouldn’t rule out that he could be moved.

That brings us to my ideal scenario, and that’s the Leafs offering up Curtis McElhinney to the Oilers. When you look at the list that Frank Seravalli put together it’s clear that the Oilers are looking for someone with NHL experience. The fact that Edmonton is unlikely to make the playoffs probably means they don’t want to pay a premium. They still see Cam Talbot as their goaltender of the future, and the plan is still going to be for Laurent Brossoit to be his backup, they just need to find short term stability. That’s what McElhinney provides and cheaply. This enables the Leafs to promote Pickard to the NHL as Andersen’s backup and help lighten his workload, especially down the stretch and it allows Sparks to own the Marlies net, and the Leafs to see what they truly have in him. Removing McElhinney is perhaps the best move the Leafs can make, especially considering that they will get Kaskisuo back from the Chicago Wolves as soon as the Vegas goaltending situation becomes less murky.

So what would the Leafs get from the Oilers?

Probably not a heck of a lot, and what’s available is either going to be something that needs to clear waivers or will only be inside an NHL arena if they buy a ticket.

The players the Oilers have been actively shopping are Anton Slepyshev, Jujhar Khaira, and 6God Drake Caggiula. Of those three, Slepyshev is the only one who doesn’t require waivers. Also, I like Slepy. In fact, I like all of these guys despite the fact I should know better. The appeal with Khaira is that he’s possibly the most offensively gifted of the three, and Caggiula’s appeal is that he can play center. Getting any one of these guys for Curtis McElhinney would bring a smile to my face. In fact there isn’t much in the Oilers organization I wouldn’t take for McElhinney, as long as it doesn’t worsen the cap situation.

If we’re talking Pickard or Sparks the story is different and that story is Matt Benning. The Leafs could use another right handed defenseman in the mix, if for no reason other than to challenge Carrick and Polak. Do I think the Oilers want to do this? Nope. And that’s why I see McElhinney for a player they want to jettison as the best possible outcome for both teams.

  • leafdreamer

    Leafs don’t need more mediocre prospects. They’d probably rather take a pick. Or an NHL-ready right d with upside? Of course, they don’t expect to get that for McElhinney, but a trade involving a package centred around one of our young goalies in exchange for a package involving one of your young right d should be possible.