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Making Plans For Mikko

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Buyouts may be on the table, but are there any realisitic trade partners should the Oilers want to move on from Mikko Koskinen?

Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Ken Holland spoke at length during his media availability yesterday. There were plenty of things to talk about, one being the state of the crease. I believe Ken Holland when he says that he likes Mike Smith and wants to re-sign him this offseason. If Mike Smith is signed early, it could spell the end of Mikko Koskinen’s time in Edmonton.

With any deal, there’s got to be two to tango. Plus, the salary cap isn’t moving up any time soon. Are there any landing spots for Mikko Koskinen for 2021-22?

Let’s take a few things into consideration before lining up any possible matches.

Mikko Koskinen:

  • is a goalie
  • will be 33 years of age when the season starts
  • finished last season with an .899 SV% (.903 at evens)
  • has one year remaining on his deal
  • has a cap hit of 4.5MM
  • has a 15 team no-trade list

I have a lot of belief in Ken Holland having the ability to move this player to a team at 50%. It’d be great if Holland had some Lucic-style magic up his sleeve and was able to move him to a team in desperate need of a starting goaltender and have no hit in return.

I also would like to insert a caveat that I’m not sure that moving Mikko Koskinen is the best idea while his value is low. Extending Mike Smith will be a risky proposal in large part of his age (he turned 39 two months ago) and as good as Mike Smith’s 2021 was, he had two suspect seasons before.

With that being said, I think if a deal presents itself to Ken Holland (and Koskinen agrees,) he pulls the trigger.

Here’s a few places I think Koskinen could end up, should the pieces fall into place.

BUFFALO

Atop my list are the Buffalo Sabres. Current netminder Linus Ullmark has had his share of injuries in recent years, but he’s very good when he’s on (9-6-3, .917 SV%, .925 at evens). Unless the Sabres come in over the top, there’s a very good chance the 27 year old UFA finds a new home this offseason. Koskinen would have plenty of playign time if he found himself in Buffalo, as the Sabres don’t have anyone absent Ullmark to fill that role. The Sabres are hoping that 22 year old Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen is the face of the future in goal. With only four career NHL games, he’ll need at least another year before the Sabres can even think about handing him the reins. The Sabres are likely making some wholesale roster changes this offseason, and they might entertain the idea of bringing in a Finnish netminder from the Oilers to pair with Luukkonen, who hails from Espoo.

SAN JOSE

The San Jose Sharks are on this list because they haven’t gotten a good season out of Martin Jones since 2017-18. Jones has posted thrice-identical .896 SV% seasons and has three more years on his deal at 5.75MM a year. If I’m the Sharks, this is a prime buyout candidate. Former Oiler Devan Dubnyk played part of this season in San Jose but was moved to Colorado at the deadline. San Jose’s goaltending stable features 23 year old Josef Korenar (3-5-0, .899 SV%), further along is Alexei Melnichuk (0-1-1, .864 SV%). Koskinen would likely be (at worst) be a 1A in this situation. For him, it’s probably a more appetizing proposal than going to Buffalo. Due to San Jose having a bunch of money in goal already, this is where I think Holland would either have to eat 50% on a deal or take a contract in return.

NASHVILLE

If Pekka Rinne leaves the Predators for Finland at the conclusion of this season, a Koskinen deal at 50% could become a realistic solution. Koskinen could be featured as part of a tandem, though he more likely would backup Juuse Saros in this rotation. Saros is coming off a season where he finished with a .927 SV% (.940 at evens) in the regular season, and is due a new contract for 2021-22. Rinne and Saros split the starts almost 50/50 in 2019-20. This year, there was a 3/2 Saros to Rinne start ratio.

The Nashville Predators have a trio of goaltenders in their prospect stable (plus UFA Kasimir Kaskiuso) though it’s difficult to say which one will reach the NHL first. Recently signed Tomas Vomacka has another year in the NCAA, while Connor Ingram split time between the AHL and HockeyAllsvenskan. Devin Cooley spent the majority of his time in Florida (ECHL) this past season.

If Rinne heads to Oulun, it could prove valuable for Ken Holland to ring David Poile to see what’s happening.

PITTSBURGH

I admit, I thought Pittsburgh because I watched Tristan Jarry have a playoff series he probably would like to forget (.888 SV% and a real bad outing against the Islanders last night) and maybe Pittsburgh is vulnerable and ready to make a terrible move.

There’s a handful of places that Mikko Koskinen could end up in 2021-22, and there’s also the real chance that Koskinen could end up staying in Edmonton for one more year. Don’t forget that the Oilers have Alex Stalock under contract for another season, and it’s completely possible that he figures somewhere in the plans of 2021-22.

If he can’t move Koskinen and wants the club to move in another direction, a buyout may be the last move on the horizon.