Fresh off of finishing 2016-17 with one of the strongest goaltending tandems in the league, the Edmonton Oilers find themselves in need of some help in that department this season. And it seems they might be looking to a fellow Canadian club for the answer.
Edmonton closed out last season having allowed the eighth-fewest goals in the NHL (2.52 per game) but rank tied for second-last in the cage this time around, allowing 3.39 goals per game through the season’s early goings. According to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, general manager Peter Chiarelli is considering Winnipeg Jets netminder Michael Hutchinson as a potential antidote.
“(There’s) a lot of interest, in terms of what Michael Hutchinson’s been able to do in the last 10 games in the American Hockey League — 9-1 with a save percentage of .950,” Kypreos said during Hockey Night in Canada‘s Headlines segment on Saturday. “So it’s drawing interest, including from the Edmonton Oilers. We know that they need help with Cam Talbot out.”
Talbot hasn’t played since Nov. 28, having been sidelined with an upper-body injury during Edmonton’s late-November road trip. The veteran netminder has been back on the ice recently, however, and is getting closer to returning, according to his head coach.
With Connor Hellebuyck having snagged the Jets’ starter reins, the club would like to move out Hutchinson’s salary, according to Kypreos. But that likely won’t happen until the team’s other veteran backstopper has returned from injury.
“Here’s the delay: Steve Mason failed his concussion test,” Kypreos said. “Now the good news is he is symptom free and everybody believes that he will be cleared this week.”
Hellebuyck has looked strong in Winnipeg’s cage this season, posting a career-best .921 save percentage alongside a goals-against average of 2.44. He’s amassed 15 wins in 23 appearances in 2017-18 as well, while Mason has appeared in just eight games this season since signing a two-year, $8.2-million deal with Winnipeg over the summer.
Meanwhile, Hutchinson has shone as one of the AHL’s best while suiting up for the Manitoba Moose this season, posting the best save percentage in the league thus far as well as the third-best goals-against average. That sterling performance comes after a trio of campaigns in the big leagues wherein Hutchinson’s save percentage and goals-against average both declined in each of his three NHL seasons.
If Edmonton is interested in acquiring the 27-year-old to beef up their goaltending, it seems they’ll have some competition.
“Other notable teams that are looking for backups include the Florida Panthers with (Roberto) Luongo out,” Kypreos said. “And perhaps watching (Tristan) Jarry in Pittsburgh get pulled after the first three goals on 16 shots (on Saturday), maybe Jim Rutherford would like to get some more NHL experience to back up Matt Murray.”