The Edmonton Oilers enter this season with goaltending a prime concern. They brought back 39-year-old Mike Smith but questions remained about backups Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock. This could become a more pressing issue with Stalock potentially sidelined for the entire season by a heart condition.
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reports general manager Ken Holland said there were no plans to seek another veteran goalie at this time. There's not much Holland can do because of his salary-cap constraints.
Cap Friendly shows the Oilers sitting above the $81.5-million salary cap by over $2.8 million. They'll offset that by placing sidelined Oscar Klefbom ($4.167 million) on long-term injury reserve and they could get an additional $785K by doing the same with Stalock. However, it still leaves them without much room for upgrades.
Smith performed well as the Oilers' starter despite his age and injury history. Koskinen, however, has struggled with consistency during his tenure in Edmonton. Carrying a $4.5-million cap hit and a 15-team no-trade list, he will return as their primary backup.
The pickings are slim for goalies in the free-agent market. Tuukka Rask is sidelined until January recovering from hip surgery and expected to return to the Boston Bruins. Devan Dubnyk struggled in a backup role last season with the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche.
Barring injury to Smith or Koskinen, Holland might have to wait until later in the season to bolster his goaltending. Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo could be a tempting rental option at the March trade deadline. An unrestricted free agent next summer, Korpisalo faces perhaps his final season in Columbus after the Jackets signed Elvis Merzlikins on Tuesday to a five-year extension.