As the Edmonton Oilers suffered their fifth loss in six games, falling 3-2 on Tuesday to the Pittsburgh Penguins, speculation grew over what they'll do to improve their poor goaltending.
With the Oilers holding the worst combined goals-against per game (4.57) highlighted by the struggles of starter Devan Dubnyk, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Oilers GM Craig MacTavish was working the phones to determine the trade market for goalies.
McKenzie claimed the Oilers were considering every possibility, including Anaheim's Jonas Hiller, Buffalo's Ryan Miller, St. Louis' Brian Elliott and Washington's Michal Neuvirth.
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported no one on the Sabres approached Miller about a trade and believed management wants to shop him later in the season when his trade value could be higher.
A factor in moving Miller is his modified no-trade clause, in which he lists eight clubs he won't accept being dealt to. And according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, Edmonton is on Miller’s no-trade list.
Like Miller, Hiller is also eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, but considering he's off to a good start, LeBrun doubted the Ducks would “rock the boat” at this time.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman questioned the logic of giving up assets for a potential UFA goalie without first trying to sign him. He also believed Ottawa backup Robin Lehner would be a perfect trade target for the Oilers, but doubted the Senators would part with him.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson considers Miller (if even possible) a more preferable target than Hiller, but isn't sold on the streaky Elliott. He's also no fan of free agent Ilya Bryzgalov, whom some pundits consider an option for the Oilers.
All the chatter linking Miller or Hiller to Edmonton will excite most Oilers fans, but neither goalie will be moved anytime soon.
The Ducks simply have no reason to move Hiller, plus they're in the market for blueline depth, which the Oilers cannot help them with.
While the asking price for Elliott or Neuvirth would be more affordable, neither the Blues nor Capitals have any reason to shop their backups now.
Lehner is an ideal target, but considering the heavy workload he and Craig Anderson face, the Senators would be reluctant to move him.
And forget about prying James Reimer away from the Toronto Maple Leafs. As he made clear with his 36-save performance in backstopping the Leafs to a 4-1 victory over Minnesota this week, Reimer isn't about to give up the starter's role to Jonathan Bernier without a fight.
The flaky Bryzgalov might not be a palatable option, but he's better than ageing Jose Theodore and oft-injured Rick DiPietro.
Basically, GM Craig MacTavish faces four choices. Trade one of his young star forwards for a proven starter (Hiller) who could bolt via free agency next summer, acquire a more affordable but streaky goalie (Elliott, Neuvirth), sign a free agent with baggage (Bryzgalov, Theodore, DiPietro) or stick with his current tandem and hope for the best.