Above the 49: Potential goalie targets for Oilers
By Daniel Fung, Sports Network Columnist
Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - The Edmonton Oilers seemingly have solidified their goaltending plans for the upcoming season with the signing of free agent Jason LaBarbera to work alongside incumbent starter Devan Dubnyk, but there remains plenty of questions surrounding the position.
The Oilers are responsible for bringing up many of those questions and doubts about their goaltending situation with their not-so-secret pursuits of former Los Angeles King Jonathan Bernier and former Vancouver Canuck Cory Schneider, who were traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils, respectively, in recent weeks.
This all came despite the fact Dubnyk, who is entering into the final season of the two-year, $7 million deal he inked just last summer, posted some decent numbers on a young and somewhat defensively suspect Oilers club. It was his first true season as the team's undisputed No. 1 goaltender, finishing with a 2.57 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
Dubnyk may be the starter heading into this season but it seems evident the Oilers' brass, led by new general manager Craig MacTavish, isn't quite sold on him being the franchise netminder moving forward.
Even though the Oilers have the 33-year-old veteran LaBarbera signed to a one- year deal and have brought in 25-year-old former Dallas Stars backup Richard Bachman into the mix as well, neither of those two are likely destined to be part of Edmonton's long-term plan.
With that said, here are three potential goaltenders around the league who Oilers fans might want to keep on their radar, knowing their team may still be in the hunt for a netminder who could push or possibly usurp Dubnyk for the starter's gig:
MARC-ANDRE FLEURY - PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Contract status: Signed through 2014-15 at a $5 million cap hit; unrestricted free agent in July 2015.
Fleury has proven himself to be a very solid regular-season performer, but the former first overall pick has taken a lot of flak for his play in the playoffs over the years despite leading Pittsburgh to a Stanley Cup championship in 2009.
The final straw might have come during this year's playoffs when the 28-year- old lost his starter's job after the first four games of the Penguins' playoff run to veteran Tomas Vokoun, who carried the load the rest of the way.
While Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma has given Fleury a vote of confidence and suggests he'll be the team's No. 1 netminder come the fall, you'd have to wonder if a change of scenery might be in the cards.
JAMES REIMER - TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Contract status: Signed through 2013-14 at a $1.8 million cap hit; restricted free agent in July 2014.
Reimer finds himself in the position that Dubnyk would have been in had the Oilers been successful in their attempts to acquire either Bernier or Schneider.
Despite posting career numbers and helping the Leafs snap a nine-year playoff drought, Reimer's status as the No. 1 netminder in Toronto is very much in doubt after the Leafs brought in Bernier via trade with the Kings.
Reimer will reach restricted free agency status at the end of the upcoming season as well and will be in line for a raise, meaning the Leafs might be looking to shop the 25-year-old.
The Leafs may publicly be suggesting Reimer and Bernier will be able to push one another and battle for the top job, but it certainly seems like the writing is on the wall for Reimer as far as his time in Toronto is concerned.
JAROSLAV HALAK - ST. LOUIS BLUES
Contract status: Signed through 2013-14 at a $3.75 million cap hit; unrestricted free agent in July 2014.
Halak has turned in some fine performances for the Blues over the last three seasons when he's been in the lineup.
Unfortunately, he hasn't been in the lineup enough for the team's liking, especially over the last couple years when he's battled a number of injuries.
At 28, Halak still has plenty to give and is mentioned as being among the league's elite, but with Brian Elliott grabbing the reins as the starter this past season and with another capable up-and-comer in their system in Jake Allen, that could leave Halak as the odd man out.
With Halak less than a year away of being able to just walk away from the Blues - leaving them with nothing - St. Louis might be looking to get some value out of him on the trade market while it still can.
07/10 09:56:42 ET