The sudden end of the 2020 play-in series was a kick to the gut of the Oilers and their fans. The club put in plenty of goals, but had a fair bit of trouble keeping the puck out of their own net. Part of that was a breakdown on defence, but the goaltending will no doubt get a long hard look this offseason as well.
Mikko Koskinen is almost certainly going to be between Edmonton’s pipes for the duration of his contract (through the 2021-22 season). At 4.5MM a season, you’d hope that he would start the lion’s share of the games for those two seasons. Will he?
It depends on what Ken Holland thinks he has in Koskinen.
Originally drafted early in the second round of the 2009 Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, Koskinen would go on to appear in just four games for the club. He would spend parts of three years in Bridgeport (AHL) before making his way to Liiga, and eventually the KHL. He’d spend two years in Siberia before doing quite well for himself in St. Petersburg. Koskinen would finish his last year in the KHL with a .937 SV%, good for fifth in the league. Koskinen would appear in nearly 70 playoff games over his four year tenure with St. Petersburgh.
Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli liked enough of what he saw to take a shot on Koskinen for a year. Chiarelli was unable to land Pavel Francouz, who signed with the Avalanche for about a quarter (690K) of what Koskinen would eventually agree to with Edmonton (2.5MM). Francouz led the KHL in SV% in the same year that Mikko Koskinen finished fifth.
Koskinen would play in his first NHL games in nearly a decade when he suited up with the Oilers last season. At 30 years of age, Koskinen was brought in to challenge Cam Talbot (who was on his last year of his deal). Interestingly enough, Koskinen was given a three year extension at the end of January, 2019 while in the midst of an up-and-down campaign. Cam Talbot would be sent to the Flyers at the deadline, leaving Koskinen as the de facto number one. Koskinen would end the season with an overall .906 SV%, which isn’t going to turn any heads.
Mike Smith would join Mikko Koskinen for the 2019-20 season on a one year deal. Smith was streaky, while Koskinen finished the year with a .917 SV% much nicer than his previous effort. A disappointinng playoff for the Oilers would limit Koskinen to just three games with a little mop up duty to make it four apperances.
So now that we’re 400 words into this, let’s get it out there: What does Ken Holland think of Mikko Koskinen? Is he sold on him for the 2020-21 season? Will he try to upgrade this offseason? Will he bring in another 1A challenger like he did with Koskinen when Cam Talbot was number one?
If the Oilers were to go the UFA route, it’s a thin pool this season.
Unless the Oilers are planning on spraying the crease with money, Robin Lehner (.920, 5MM cap hit 2019-20) and Braden Holtby (.898, 6.1MM cap hit 2019-20) are likely afterthoughts. Mike Smith (.903 SV% / 2MM cap hit 2019-20) remains an option, though I’d only entertain bringing him back if the Oilers struck out during free agency. Smith’s been hot and cold over the last couple of seasons, and he’ll be 39 years of age next year.
Cam Talbot (.919 SV%, 2.75MM cap hit 2019/20) could probably be talked back for the right price, but he’ll probably be looking for a multi-year deal coming off of a great season as he will enter his age 33 season. The Oilers could have guys like Keith Kinkaid or Aaron Dell come in for a year, but none of them had markedly better years than Smith did.
There’s always a chance that Ken Holland could have a deal in the works. Frederik Andersen (.909 SV% / 5MM) had three good years prior to this year with the Leafs. He has a modified NTC with just one year remaining. It would almost require Mikko Koskinen to be dealt back to Toronto to make money work. I’d really like to kick the tires on LA’s Cal Peterson (.922 SV% / 860K cap hit 2019/20) because the Kings are still paying Jonathan Quick for 3 more years. Peterson has appeared in 19 games for the Kings over the past two years, and he’d be worth asking the sticker price.
It all comes down to dollars, cents, and confidence. Mikko Koskinen has a modified NTC for his remaining two years with the club, so getting him into a deal is likely a bit more difficult than you’d hope. If we get another year of 2019-20 Koskinen, that won’t be a bad thing at all. Whether Koskinen opens up 2020-21 as the club’s number one, 1A, or finds himself somewhere else entirely depends all on what Ken Holland thinks he has.