Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

The Edmonton Oilers started out their 2023-24 campaign much worse than many fans and analysts originally anticipated. They were praised as a Stanley Cup contender coming into the new season, and with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in their primes, the time is now for the Oilers to go all-in and try to win it all. Unfortunately, their rough start has them near the bottom of the Pacific Division standings, and they have been fighting their way back up all season. While their recent eight-game winning streak was great for their comeback story, they still have a gaping hole between the pipes.

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While Stuart Skinner and Calvin Pickard have done what they can between the pipes, they haven’t been great this season. It didn’t help the Oilers that Jack Campbell started the season horrendously, and he was sent down to the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League (AHL), where he has been attempting to find his confidence so he can be called up again and provide something more to the Oilers than he has during his first two years with the team. While the Oilers have been playing better overall, it’s clear that they still need to upgrade in goal if they want any chance of contending this season.

For them to be successful, there is one goaltender they need to be willing to overpay for and bring in, and that’s Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros. While the Predators have claimed multiple times that they have no interest in moving him, nothing is impossible in the NHL. Saros is a star, and the Oilers need to try and do everything in their power to bring him in. He would easily be able to solve the issue between the pipes and would bring the Oilers to the Promise Land if they still hope to win a Stanley Cup this season.

Who is Saros & How Would He Help the Oilers?

Saros is a 28-year-old left-handed goaltender from Forssa, Finland currently playing with the Predators. He was drafted by the Predators in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft at 99th overall after a stellar showing in the U20 SM-Liiga in Finland with HPK, where he posted a 1.86 goals-against-average (GAA) and also posted a .933 save percentage (SV%) through 37 games. He returned to play for HPK in the Liiga the following season, where in 44 games, Saros posted a 1.76 GAA and a .923 SV%.

Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the 2014-15 season, Saros returned to the Liiga with HPK and posted a .929 SV% with a 2.14 GAA. He quickly built himself a reputation as a top prospect in the Predators’ system and proved he was built for the NHL almost immediately. In his first campaign with the Predators organization during the 2015-16 season, he played one game in the NHL with the Predators posting a 3.10 GAA and a .870 SV%. He spent the majority of the season in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals, where he posted a 2.24 GAA and a .920 SV% through 38 games.

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Saros didn’t play full-time in the NHL until the 2018-19 season where during his first full season, he posted a 2.62 GAA and a .915 SV% through 31 games and quickly became one of the top goaltenders in the NHL. Over his career with the Predators, Saros has played 310 games, posting a 2.60 GAA and a .919 SV% while having won 160 of those games he’s played. He has been one of the most consistent goaltenders in the NHL over the past several seasons and is someone the Oilers need.

The Predators haven’t been the best team in the NHL by any means this season, but Saros continues to play extremely well. Through 24 games this season, Saros has posted a 2.71 GAA and added a .912 SV%. If Saros can put up that kind of stat line on a Predators team that struggles defensively, imagine what he can do on an Oilers team that’s more dominant offensively and has improved their defensive game immensely.

Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Saros is a big upgrade statistically on the Oilers’ current tandem of Skinner and Pickard who haven’t been terrible, but neither of them have been playing like a true starting goaltender this season and it’s causing issues for the Oilers. Skinner currently has a .885 SV% with a 3.04 GAA through 21 games and has been leaned on for the majority of the games this season. If the Oilers were to bring in Saros and let Skinner play as a backup, I think it would take the pressure off of Skinner and allow him to play better when he’s called upon to give Saros a rest.

What Would it Cost the Oilers?

Saros is in the third season of his contract which has a $5 million cap hit. The Oilers are tight for money, so they’d have to move a contract (Campbell) to make a deal work and would have to throw in a massive package that would make the Predators consider parting with him. Hypothetically, a deal of Xavier Bourgault, Carter Savoie, Philip Broberg, and two first-round draft picks along with Campbell should be something the Predators consider, and the Oilers should have no issue offering. They need a goaltender now, so paying three prospects and two firsts should not be an issue if they want to contend this season.

Saros is a perfect fit for the Oilers and is someone they should be willing to move a massive package to trade for. He is a star goaltender and would solve the final issue the Oilers have. Hopefully, they will try to make a move sooner rather than later and can turn their season around fast to push for their first Stanley Cup since 1990.

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