EDMONTON, AB - An acquisition between the pipes seems all but certain for the Oilers, even as soon as this week. With Friday’s NHL Draft in Sunrise, FL fast approaching, the phone calls and trade talks are well under way.
“My guess is we’ll probably be able to do something before the draft but I’m not completely sure,” Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli said.
That is a tight timeline, considering the first round of the draft is on Friday night.
The Oilers had the league’s worst goals against per game average last season (3.37). It stands to reason that defence is also a major area of need and Chiarelli addressed that during a media availability Monday, at Royal Mayfair Golf Club in Edmonton.
“We’re going to play better defensively, we hope to improve our defence,” said Chiarelli. “Our defencemen will improve and their defensive play will improve.”
Defence is one need, but Chiarelli fielded more questions about goalies than any other topic broached by the media.
With 10 picks in the draft, including six in the first three rounds, the Oilers appear to be in a position of strength when it comes to potential bidding wars on available goaltenders. And according to Chiarelli, there is a bountiful crop this year.
“There are goalies out there,” said Chiarelli. “We’ve had discussions with teams. We’re in a group of, my guess is, two or three or maybe four teams that are looking for goalies. There are more goalies than those numbers of teams. We’re in a buyer’s market. Having said that, we’ve got multiple picks so I seem to be a popular potential trade partner on that front.”
With two picks in the second round, 33rd and 57th overall, the Oilers could potentially utilize those assets in trade discussions.
“Would we trade a second-round pick? Yeah, sure. I would look into doing that possibly,” said Chiarelli.
The Oilers first two picks may not be so easily wrestled away by trade partners. Chiarelli said he’s open to “all types of offers except for the first overall pick.” And when it comes to the 16th overall selection, Chiarelli says he “instinctively” would like to keep it.
Chiarelli also didn’t rule out drafting a goalie, specifically mentioning the second round. There are a couple quality options that might be available.
But if they do execute a trade, which type of netminder will the Oilers target? Are they interested in a younger, inexperienced goaltender who has shown promise in limited game action? How about an experienced player with a healthy amount of games under their belt? Either is a possibility.
“I’m not adverse to either types of groups,” said Chiarelli. “We’ve got some younger, smaller sample-sized guys. You’ve got some more proven guys. For me, it’s about fitting into how we’re going to improve our D and how we’re going to play defensively. At the end of the day, it takes two to tango. You have to get the right deal in place. I’m not adverse to even going to the free agent market either…”
Chiarelli says the Oilers have a list of goaltenders they are kicking the tires on. The level of interest or who they’re interested in may change over the course of the next few days. Stay tuned.