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Six goalies the Edmonton Oilers could target in potential trade

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All right, so the Edmonton Oilers have a few problems.

By now we all know what they are. Depth scoring is one. If Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl don’t have a productive night, there too often isn’t enough else up front to push the team through. Zach Hyman, for all his early success, returns to Toronto Wednesday on a nine-game goalless drought. That doesn’t help the dire situation.

With a 2-8-2 record in their past 12 games, the Oilers have scored 29 times for an average of just 2.42 goals per game. Edmonton is scoring nearly a goal less than expected during this stretch, so while that will undoubtedly improve eventually, we can’t look past it as a major factor in the current slide.

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More subtly, the team might need to add blue-line depth, too. If the Oilers were challenging for a division crown or at least well into the playoffs and off the bubble, acquiring someone like rental defenceman Ben Chiarot was within the range of possibilities. But that move is more of a tweak and not necessarily something that will stop this fire.

That brings us to goaltending, an area of little depth and a whole lot of concerns.

GM Ken Holland’s decision to run back Mike Smith was always risky. Smith was fabulous for the Oilers last season, but it went against the grain of where he was trending and where age-related decline generally factors. Smith will turn 40 in March and has played only five games this season due to injury (he’ll return to the net Wednesday in Toronto).

That has put more pressure and workload on Mikko Koskinen than expected and while the goalie did a serviceable job in the early going, winning 12 of his first 14 games with a .914 save percentage through Dec. 1, he has slumped recently. In his past six appearances, all losses, Koskinen has just an .866 save percentage.

The risk with bringing Smith back was twofold: his age meant replicating last season’s performance was always going to be a tall task, and if he got injured, relying on Koskinen for long stretches was going to be a challenge. Koskinen’s $4.5 million Peter Chiarelli-inflated contract aside, he is a decent backup goalie being asked to do a whole heck of a lot more. Too much, really.

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Koskinen is right to point out the goal scoring has been lacking, with the Oilers giving him just seven goals of support in his past six games. But these struggles are emphasizing how risky Edmonton’s approach to the goalie position was. After Wednesday’s game in Toronto, the Oilers will play just one time in 12 days, so there’s an opportunity for Holland to do something. Will it be the coach who’s dismissed, or will a roster move be made?

If it’s a roster move, then the goalie situation would seem to be the one that could have the biggest impact. Though Smith returns Wednesday, questions will persist about how reliable his health will be and what the plan is come playoff time if he goes down again. For both the present and future of Edmonton’s chances this season, it may be imperative to do something with the goalies before long.

“I think you have to do something,” Elliotte Friedman said on Tuesday’s Jeff Marek Show. “I think you have to send a message to McDavid and Draisaitl and your players that we cannot afford to waste this season, but I think you also have to be smart about it. You’re not giving up your best assets for a rental.”

If a move is made, we’ll presume the cap-strapped Oilers would have to include Koskinen to make the dollars work, and that another asset or two would be needed to strike a deal. His contract expires at the end of the season.

It’s the situation, not the player, that needs to be addressed here, but what options could even be available to the Oilers? Varying possibilities are out there, and whether any of these names could be had in the near future is questionable. It’s not as though these teams will be setting out to do the Oilers any favours …

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Marc-Andre Fleury
Let’s think about the playoff-bound teams that may be in the market for a goalie this season. Minnesota? They have a bottom-eight 5-on-5 team save percentage this season and Cam Talbot had been a fairly average starter with 25-year-old Kaapo Kahkonen behind him. And now Talbot is out indefinitely. Colorado? They acquired their new No. 1 over the summer with Darcy Kuemper, and though he started slowly, he’s turned a bit of a corner lately. The thinking here could be to add a second, more experienced and proven netminder and go for a one-time, all-in push for the Cup with an elite tandem. Pittsburgh is always a nice idea for the storyline and was maybe even a legit possibility before the season. But Tristan Jarry, who faltered in the playoffs last season, has been great. If this one happens it, too, would be an endeavour to solidify a volatile position with depth.

Fleury — who has a 10-team no-trade list — might be the biggest netminder name out there if available and none of the above teams has as great a need, or as much urgency to address it, as the Oilers. If Fleury was open to going to Edmonton, finding the right price could be tricky. He’s a rental and, presumably, the Hawks would need to retain cap space on his $7 million tag, so that could add an asset. With the other needs in Edmonton’s lineup, paying up for a rental at any position may not be the chosen course. But if you want someone who you could feel good about making a difference now, Fleury is it.

Braden Holtby
After a couple of seasons of decline, Holtby has found success again behind Dallas’ stout defence, posting a .922 save percentage and saving 5.30 goals above average (per Hockey Reference), a mark that ranks 15th in the league and above any other goalie on this list.

But here’s the thing: Dallas’ defence is great at preventing high-quality looks. They’re eighth at defending scoring chances and seventh limiting high-danger opportunities at 5-on-5. So if Holtby was the goalie to target, he’d be tasked with moving from that situation to Edmonton’s, a bottom-half team by both measures. It would be a lot less cozy for Holtby in Edmonton’s crease.

The timing may not work for the Oilers anyway. Dallas is still figuring itself out, six points behind Edmonton in the standings with four games in hand. Whether they sell — and what they sell — may not be determined until closer to the deadline in late-March. If Edmonton wants to address this area of the roster soon, Holtby may not be attainable anyway.

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If he does become available, though, the price tag shouldn’t be too high and the commitment ($2 million cap hit for this season only) is minimal.

Chris Driedger

A darling value goalie from last season, Driedger has had two stops on the injured list already and struggled on the ice with an .892 save rate and 3.49 GAA with Seattle. Both he and Philipp Grubauer were signed to multi-year deals (Driedger for three years, Grubauer six) and the idea was they could form a pretty reliable tandem. This is yet another reminder of how fickle goalie vibes can be.

If things keep going the way they are, the Kraken could sell at the deadline, especially their rental players, and Mark Giordano would top a list of interest. It’s not as if you’re rebuilding an expansion team in the middle of its first season, but if the price was right they would have some attractive players on the trade market. At the expansion draft, some questioned why the Kraken didn’t use more leverage to acquire draft picks as they have an entire organization to build out, but since they’re near the bottom of the league now it could be another opportunity to bring in picks.

The tricky thing here for Seattle is that their underlying defensive numbers are really quite good. Sixth in shots against, third in high-danger chances against, and fourth in expected goals against per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 action. Those rates have worsened somewhat in the past month, but the main issue with the team has been a lack of offence and subpar goaltending.

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So, do you move on from one of the netminders now? Grubauer would be difficult to trade with his contract, but Driedger is much more palatable in term and dollars. The Kraken have prioritized cap space and so we’d expect them not to retain any salary in a deal. If Koskinen was part of the return here, not only would Edmonton save money for this year’s deadline, but the Kraken could perhaps get an extra asset and increase their cap room in the summer.

Again, though, is Driedger so much of a clear upgrade for Edmonton? He’s allowed four goals or more in five of his nine games played this season and hasn’t been healthy. On top of that, where Koskinen could walk at season’s end, the Oilers would have to include Driedger in their plans for another two seasons, so if he’s not the answer that would create more headaches. There are no sure things in a trade, but there would be high risk in this move even if the acquisition cost wouldn’t necessarily be a burden.

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Joonas Korpisalo

Go back a year and perhaps this is a slightly more appealing option, though Korpisalo wasn’t exactly outstanding in 2021 either. A pending UFA, Korpisalo makes $2.8 million against the cap and likely won’t return to Columbus. The team has been open to moving a goalie for over a year, though Elvis Merzlikins has since assumed No. 1 duties and signed a long-term extension.

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Korpisalo returned from a spell on the COVID list Tuesday and allowed seven goals on 36 shots against the Lightning. His previous appearance was Dec. 16 against Edmonton, coming in relief and saving all 15 shots he faced in a loss. But in eight starts this season, Korpisalo has allowed four or more goals six times and his minus-9.19 goals saved above average is the second-worst mark in the league. He has name value but, no, acquiring Korpisalo as a rental doesn’t appear to be the answer.

Semyon Varlamov
Here’s where things get interesting and, perhaps, reasonably realistic if Holland makes an impact move.

The Islanders have faced several challenges this season and an extremely slow start makes their playoff hopes already slim. New York is 5-2-3 in its past 10 — the Islanders’ best run of the season — and is still 10 points out of the wild card with four teams between it and Boston. It is folly to count this team out, but that’s a heavy lift.

In net, Semyon Varlamov has been a rock for the Islanders in their past two seasons, both of which ended in the playoff semifinal. Playing behind one of the stingiest defences in the league, Varlamov had the NHL’s best goals saved above expected total last season.

This season, an injury delayed his start until mid-November and he’s posted fairly average numbers in nine games (.910 save percentage). Meanwhile, 26-year-old Ilya Sorokin has taken over and sits eighth in the league by goals saved above expected.

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The question may be one of timing here, too. It may make sense for the Islanders to pivot to Sorokin as their next No. 1 and he is signed through 2023-24. If they feel confident in him, it may also make sense to move out Varlamov’s $5-million cap hit, which runs through next season as well. They’re tight to the cap and could use that money elsewhere.

But on the other hand, would Lou Lamoriello be open to this kind of white flag trade right now? They’re probably not ready to give up on the playoffs yet and weaken their lot. If Varlamov can be had, though, he would be an intriguing target for the Oilers. It is worth noting he has a 16-team no-trade list.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

Jake Allen

The Canadiens could be in the market for just about anything.

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Their current No. 1, Jake Allen, would be the most easily attainable by the Oilers if Jeff Gorton is thinking of starting to tear things down. Allen makes $2.875 million against the cap this season and next, so Edmonton would have at least one half of a tandem already in place for next season at a reasonable cap cost. Allen has stepped in admirably during Carey Price’s absence, though he isn’t getting any favours behind this defence. He’s a solid backup, credible tandem option, and someone who can probably handle the workload of a No. 1 at a more sustainable rate than Koskinen has proven capable. He may not steal games or series, but he may not lose them either.

And, perhaps, that’s a move that could be made sooner than later.

But we also have to take this opportunity to raise Price’s name because if the Habs do choose to rebuild the roster (which is no guarantee at this point), he would top the list of available players. In most cases, teams would need the Habs to retain some of Price’s $10.5 million cap hit and the Oilers are no different there. This would be a massive deal, but the upside is obvious.

Price’s credentials are undeniable and he just carried a Cinderella Montreal team all the way to the final last season. The issue here, of course, is that he hasn’t played a single game this season as he works on personal matters off the ice. There’s no telling when, or if, he’ll come back this season so if Price is the target, Edmonton will have to wait.

Eric Engels addressed the possibility of a Price trade, and Edmonton as a destination, in his Wednesday mailbag. Price would be the best goalie the Oilers could get if he returns and waives his no-move clause to join McDavid and Co. But that acquisition cost wouldn’t be cheap and a bidding war could erupt, too.

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Packers’ Aaron Rodgers sets up QB Danny Etling’s long rushing TD during mid-game interview in preseason win

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Quarterback Danny Etling scored a 51-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of Friday’s preseason victory over the New Orleans Saints, yet the highlight of the play wasn’t the touchdown run itself — but who was on air when the play occurred. Etling took the snap and ran to his right untouched for the touchdown with Aaron Rodgers being interviewed mid-game. 

Needless to say, Rodgers was pretty excited when Etling — the third-string quarterback — had the big play for the score. 

“What did I tell ya. What did I tell ya. What did I tell ya,” Rodgers said as he clapped his hands and smiled. “Yeah baby, I love it. I love it.” 

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This isn’t the first time Etling ran a naked bootleg and scored on a long touchdown run. Etling scored on an 86-yard touchdown run on a naked bootleg to his right during his time with the New England Patriots in 2018 — and this touchdown looked eerily similar. In fact, Rodgers was complimenting Etling’s athleticism and reminiscing about that very run minutes before he took off for the score Friday night.

Etling has bounced around the league, being waived and signed by the Patriots, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks several times. Etling also was on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad, the Denver Broncos practice squad, the Packers practice squad and the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad. He actually was assigned to the Packers practice squad and later signed by the Jaguars and assigned to their practice squad last December.

Overall, Etling has been involved in 27 transactions since entering the league in 2018 — yet has never played a regular season snap in the NFL

For one night, the former seventh-round quarterback from LSU recaptured his rookie year magic. No one at Lambeau Field may have been happier than Rodgers. 

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Watch Everton vs. Nottingham Forest: How to live stream, TV channel, Saturday’s Premier League start time

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The Premier League is back in action on Saturday.

Who’s Playing

  • Nottingham Forest @ Everton
  • Current Records: Nottingham Forest 1-1; Everton 0-2

Paramount+ is the only place to watch every minute of every Serie A match this season, not to mention select games in Italian. Sign up now with offer code ITALY to get a special one month free trial. A subscription also gives you access to other sports content including every UEFA Champions League and Europa League match, the NFL on CBS, and countless movies and shows. Get it all free for 1 month with promo code ITALY.

What to Know

Everton will look to defend their home turf on Saturday against Nottingham Forest at 10 a.m. ET.

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This past Saturday, Everton fell a goal shy of Aston Villa, losing 2-1. That was Everton’s second consecutive one-goal defeat against Villa.

Speaking of close games: Nottingham Forest won by a goal, slipping past West Ham United 1-0. The Nottingham Forest offense checked out after the first half but had enough goals banked to take the contest anyway.

Nottingham Forest’s victory lifted them to 1-1 (10th place with three points) while Everton’s loss dropped them down to 0-2 (18th place with zero points). We’ll see if Nottingham Forest can repeat their recent success or if Everton bounces back and reverse their fortune.

Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.  

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How To Watch

  • Who: Everton vs. Nottingham Forest
  • When: Saturday at 10 a.m. ET
  • Where: Goodison Park
  • Online streaming: Peacock
  • Caesars Sportsbook odds: Everton -111; Draw +245; Forest +325

Featured Game | Everton vs. Nottingham Forest

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last six years.

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How to watch Fulham vs. Brentford: Premier League live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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The Premier League returns to action on Saturday.

Who’s Playing

  • Brentford @ Fulham
  • Current Records: Brentford 1-0-1; Fulham 0-0-2

Paramount+ is the only place to watch every minute of every Serie A match this season, not to mention select games in Italian. Sign up now with offer code ITALY to get a special one month free trial. A subscription also gives you access to other sports content including every UEFA Champions League and Europa League match, the NFL on CBS, and countless movies and shows. Get it all free for 1 month with promo code ITALY.

What to Know

Fulham will look to defend their home turf on Saturday against Brentford at 10 a.m. ET.

This past Saturday, Fulham and Wolverhampton tied 0-0, good for one point each.

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Meanwhile, Brentford got themselves on the board against Manchester United this past Saturday, but Man United never followed suit. Brentford took their game against the Red Devils by a conclusive 4-0 score. The Brentford offense checked out after the first half but had enough goals banked to take the match anyway.

After their draw, Fulham will be looking to earn the full three points in this match.

Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.  

How To Watch

  • Who: Fulham vs. Brentford
  • When: Saturday at 10 a.m. ET
  • Where: Craven Cottage
  • Online streaming: Peacock
  • Caesars Sportsbook odds: Fulham +145; Draw +240; Brentford +190

Featured Game | Fulham vs. Brentford

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