Why Stuart Skinner should start Oilers games right now – The Athletic


The Edmonton Oilers are in a tight playoff race and badly need quality goalie starts every game. So far this season, in 58 games, Edmonton goaltenders have only made 24 quality starts, or about 41 percent.

Even more alarmingly, Oilers opening night starter Mike Smith has offered a quality start in just 33% (five of 15) of his starts. Mikko Koskinen? The other veteran has had more success (13 of 31 starts, 41 percent) and rookie Stuart Skinner (six of 12) leads the way at 50 percent.

That’s just one way to look at goaltenders and the requirement for a quality start (starts with an above league average save percentage for the year) isn’t high. What the stat highlights is that the organization has a problem, and the quickest way to improve playoff chances is with a goal upgrade.

Skinner’s unusual progression

The Oilers have always been strong on Skinner’s ability, senior management were convinced he could be an NHL goaltender. It was Peter Chiarelli’s management team, with Edmonton who traded to get him into the 2017 draft.

Skinner was the choice to step in as a starter for the Bakersfield Condors when Shane Starrett suffered a significant injury in 2019-20 (on fellow rookie Dylan Wells). While his multi-year progress has been uneven, Skinner’s resume suggests something clicked for him over the past two seasons:

At the start of his WHL career, there was a real craze for Skinner, but his numbers faded a bit during his draft season. A terrific run in 2018 after being traded to the Swift Current Broncos saw the young guard carry his team for weeks. After posting a .914 save percentage for the remainder of the regular season, Skinner was white-hot with a .932 save percentage in 26 games in the WHL playoffs to lead the league and helped the Broncos win the WHL Championship.


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