NHL: How the Edmonton Oilers Can Address Goaltending Via Trades or Free Agency

Adam Bowen@truknorrisContributor IIIOctober 25, 2012

NHL: How the Edmonton Oilers Can Address Goaltending Via Trades or Free Agency

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    Based on the recent two-year deal signed by Devan Dubnyk, it appears that the former Kamloops Blazer and first-round draft pick of the Oilers will be given all the chances in the world to prove that he is a true No. 1 option in goal for an NHL franchise.

    However, if the experiment proves to be be a failure the Edmonton Oilers brass will be hard-pressed to make a move and try and create some stability in net for the young team. 

    The Oilers have acquired veteran goaltenders before to try and anchor the team in Dwayne Roloson and Nikolai Khabibulin, but have also been burdened by large contracts to aging players.

    The team has enough assets that a trade for an established young goaltender or an emerging young talent could be justifiably executed, or the team could opt to try and lure a prominent free agent to play for the team.

    Dubnyk will try and prove he's the man for the Oilers, and even though GM Steve Tambellini has recently said that Oilers goaltending prospect Olivier Roy has the potential to be a No. 1 goaltender in the league, the fans in Edmonton will clamor for change and stability

    Here are five ways the Edmonton Oilers could address their issues in goaltending via trades or free agency. 

Tim Thomas

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    The Edmonton Oilers would be crazy not to try and lure Tim Thomas out of his self-imposed sabbatical.

    They could offer the free agent a sizeable three-year deal and grant him all of the freedom that he wants in regards to his love for social media ranting. 

    Thomas has proven that, despite his age and unusual behavior off the ice, that he is an elite goaltender and has a Stanley Cup championship and two Vezina trophies as the league's top goaltender to back up his claims. 

    It would be a case of do the pros outweigh the cons in Thomas' case, but if the team can look past his off-ice antics and stick to the product on the ice, Thomas and the Oilers could be a good fit. 

Roberto Luongo

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    Roberto Luongo is one of the most polarizing players in the NHL today.

    When Luongo is on his game, he is one of the best goaltenders in the league, and yet for whatever reasons the fans and media in Vancouver have all but chased him from the team.

    Skeptics will argue that the length of his contract will come back to haunt the team, but the front-loaded deal will have seen the Canucks pay a good portion of the contract by the time a deal is executed. 

    Luongo is slated to make $6.7 million next season with a cap hit of $5.3, which is quite reasonable for a bona fide star. 

    The question with Luongo has always seemed to revolve around whether or not he can play in a hockey-crazy environment. While Edmonton can indeed be just that, if Luongo was to have any sort of success with the team, he would immediately be vaulted into cult-like status with Oilers fans who really haven't had a true No. 1 goaltender since the departure of Tommy Salo (or even Curtis Joseph). 

    The Oilers have the necessary pieces to make a decent run at Luongo should the Canucks decide to include Edmonton as legitimate trading partners.

Jonathan Bernier

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    Jonathan Bernier is widely considered as one of the best goaltending prospects in the entire National Hockey League, but unfortunately for him the Los Angeles Kings already have one of the best goalies in the league in Jonathan Quick. That means as long as Quick is around, Bernier will see limited icetime. 

    Now would be the perfect time to capitalize on his popularity and the Oilers would be the perfect trading partners.

    Edmonton has already proved with Devan Dubnyk that they are willing to give a young goaltender the opportunity to step up and assume the mantle of No. 1 goalie, and in Bernier the Oilers would see quite the improvement from Dubnyk (barring a breakout year). 

    At 24, Bernier has already played 47 games in the NHL, posting a 20-17-5 record with a career .910 save percentage and 2.50 goals against average. 

Niklas Backstrom

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    Niklas Backstrom is 34, so he would be another older option for the Edmonton Oilers. But he is a good option to consider.

    With the Minnesota Wild locking up Josh Harding to a cheap three-year deal, it appears that Backstrom's days in Minnesota are numbered.

    The Finnish goaltender will be coming off significant contract with a $6 million salary cap hit, but due to injuries and declining play he will see a bit of a pay reduction.

    The Oilers could all but guarantee that Backstrom would be the No. 1 option in Edmonton and could sign the free agent in 2013 for a reasonable fee. 

Jaroslav Halak

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    When Jaroslav Halak left Montreal, he left with designs of getting a shot to be the backbone of a franchise.

    Unfortunately for Halak, the St. Louis Blues had different plans and decided that Halak would split time with Brian Elliot.

    Halak has two years at $3.75 million left on his contract with the Blues, and with Elliot earning only $1.8 it would seem that Halak would be the one sent packing.