Following the club’s first round playoff loss at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets, Oilers GM Ken Holland admitted at his season ending press conference that he wants to re-sign veteran goaltender Mike Smith for a third season. At age 39, Smith is likely to only sign a one-year deal with the club, and could be entering the final season of his career.
According to David Pagnotta of ‘The Fourth Period‘, talks between the Oilers and Smith are underway.
“Contract negotiations between the Oilers and G Mike Smith are ongoing,” Pagnotta tweeted on Friday afternoon. “I believe an offer has been tabled by the Oilers, but Smith’s camp will likely counter.”
The likely sticking point in a Smith negotiation is money. Smith carried an AAV of $2,000,000 in 2020-21, but had his best season in a decade. Smith went 21-6-2 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.31 GAA.
Smith’s first contract with the Oilers, also a one-year deal signed on July 1st, 2019, carried an AAV of $3,750,000. Smith earned a $2,000,000 cap hit that season and had another $1,750,000 in performance bonuses, per Cap Friendly.
Smith is no doubt looking for a raise, and could earn a one-year contract worth $3,000,000. It’s also likely that Smith is looking for more guaranteed money and less bonuses on his next deal.
If Smith does re-sign, he’s likely to have a new partner in goal.
“Also hearing Edmonton has been exploring the goalie trade market,” Pagnotta added. “May have more to do with a possible Koskinen buyout.”
The Oilers are currently shopping both Mikko Koskinen and James Neal in an attempt to free up cap space and avoid buyouts. Koskinen has one more season remaining on his contract with a $4,500,000 cap hit, while Neal has two seasons and $5,750,000 per season remaining.
If the Oilers fail to trade both players, at least one will be bought out prior to the buyout window closing on July 27th.
The Oilers have been connected to Florida Panthers goalie Chris Dreidger, who is set to hit the free agent market later this month. Sources indicate the Oilers have checked in about trading for his rights in advance of the market opening.
The Oilers have also reportedly checked in with the Arizona Coyotes, and are expected to show interest in Buffalo Sabres netminder Linus Ullmark should he hit the market.