The Edmonton Oilers announced some bad news today, as GM Ken Holland told reporters that goaltender Alex Stalock is not expected to play this season. Stalock is being evaluated for a possible heart condition and though Holland explained that things could change down the road, he’s not counting on the depth goaltender.
Stalock, 34, is on the final season of a three-year deal signed with the Minnesota Wild in 2019 and carries a cap hit of $785K. He was expected to be the team’s third goaltender this season after he was claimed off waivers last season. Holland is not currently looking to add another veteran option to fill the role Stalock would have, meaning Stuart Skinner is likely once again penciled in as the team’s third option.
While losing a third-string goaltender is certainly not a doomsday scenario for the Oilers, it actually may be worse for them than most teams. Edmonton is currently heading into the season with 39-year-old Mike Smith as the presumptive starter and 33-year-old Mikko Koskinen behind him. The former was excellent last season and has been relatively healthy throughout his long career, but will be counted on to carry the load again without much of a depth chart behind him. Koskinen posted an .899 save percentage in 26 games and has struggled when handed the starting job for any significant stretch.
Skinner, meanwhile, made his NHL debut in 2020-21 and posted strong numbers at the AHL level. His development is coming along nicely, but as a 22-year-old goaltender with only one successful professional season under his belt, he’s still not ready to take on a big role with the Oilers. He may not need to, but losing Stalock puts him one step closer.