Who is Mikko Koskinen?

He’s a goalie in the KHL and, according to Elliotte Friedman, the Oilers are the front-runner to sign him. Cool, okay. Is that a good thing? Who is this guy?

Koskinen was originally drafted by the New York Islanders with the 31st overall pick in the 2009 draft. He would eventually play four games with the Islanders during the 2010-11 season, posting a forgettable .873 save percentage. He would play three games in North America in 2011-12 before heading back to Europe and fading into oblivion.

But, over the past couple years, Koskinen has made a name for himself as one of the top goalies in the KHL. This year has really been Koskinen’s breakout season. He posted a .937 save percentage in 29 games for SKA St. Petersburg, who are currently in the league’s Conference Finals. Beyond that, he also capitalized on NHL players not being in the Olympics, posting a .932 save percentage in five games in Pyeongchang for Finland.

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Koskinen is an interesting player given his results in the KHL recently, but is he the strong, capable backup goalie that the Oilers need right now? Cam Talbot had a rough year, but given his pedigree, deserves the benefit of the doubt. That said, the Oilers need to go into the season with a better backup option than what they had this year.

With the No. 14 overall pick, the Oilers select... Connor Zary?

I would imagine that Koskinen would be looking for a deal that guarantees he’s playing in the NHL because he isn’t going to leave a starting gig on one of the KHL’s juggernauts to ride the bus around for somebody’s farm team. Would taking a risk on Koskinen be better than signing one of the NHL free agents, like Jaroslav Halak, Cam Ward, Jonathan Bernier, or Anton Khudobin who are scheduled to hit the open market this summer?

This situation is eerily similar to the Anders Nilsson signing a few years ago. Nilsson was picked by the Islanders in the third round of the 2009 draft, didn’t stick in North America, went back to Europe, had a wicked season in the KHL in which he posted a 0.936 save percentage with Kazan Ak-Bars, then leveraged that into a one-year deal with the Oilers. Nilsson lost the net to Cam Talbot and got dealt to the St. Louis Blues half-way through the season.

It was a worthwhile risk for the Oilers during their rebuilding process, but for a team with serious playoff aspirations, is it really a time for another risk? Or is there more of a sure-thing on the open market?

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  • a lg dubl dubl

    Can’t hurt to bring him in. Don’t really see LB getting another contract with the Oil, and after him and Montoya it’s a hurry up and wait situation with the other goalies.

    • Bukkake Stevens

      Why the fhuck would a starting goalie in the KHL who is getting a lot of ice time come over here where he would pay more in taxes, make the same if not less money and play less games and be the back-up?

      • crabman

        @Bukkake Steven’s,
        An article writen a year and a half ago about the 30 highest paid players in the KHL had Koskinen as the 18th highest paid player at $1.3M. There were only 9 players that made over $2M. Sure he takes a chance coming over here and signing a deal that might pay a bit less for a year and even less than that with taxes but if it works out it has the potential to pay so much more. This to me sounds like a player betting on himself and thinking he is good enough to make a lot more than a KHL team is going to pay him. Worse case scenario for him, it doesn’t work out and he goes back to make his $1.3M back in Russia.
        For example Anders Nilsson came over in 2015 for $1M to play for the Oilers. Signed another 1 year deal for $1M and this year he started a 2 year deal worth $2.5M per year. And he isn’t even a starter.
        If a player thinks they have the skill to succeed in the NHL why not take a shot. Because if they do succeed they can make a lot more money.

        • crabman

          At the same time Kovalchuck was the highest paid player in the KHL making $5.5M. There are 138 NHL players with a $5.5M cap hit. There is just more money to go around in the NHL.

  • camdog

    I’ve never understood the rationale the Oilers use for goaltender development. When they demoted LB, they also demoted their younger goalies that were learning their trade. Maybe Nick Ellis was just bad this year…

  • OilersGM

    Stauffer has hinted of a KHL goalie since the season has ended, this is a forgone conclusion this goalie will be an Oiler.
    Stauffer is also hinting at our #9 pick + a prospect for Ryan Ellis from Nashville which might sound like a good idea and a fix for the PP and it might be, but the defenceman that are available between 9-12 are gonna be better than Ellis in couple of years and their upside is lot higher and that trade will regrettable as well.
    Short term fixes kill a team long term.

    • ed from edmonton

      Getting Ryan Ellis would be very tempting, he would go a long way in meeting the Oil’s most important need. At the moment Ellis is a top 4 (minimum) Dman getting paid journeyman wages, might be the best bargain contract in the NHL. Remember Ellis was selected 11th overall in his draft year, so sending out a 9th to get him does not seem like an overpay at all. Is a brid in the hand worth 2 in the bush?

    • dylan9988

      good chance that the defensemen picked in 9-12 aren’t going to be as good as Ellis, because he is considered a really good pick at #11. If every defensman picked 9-12 would be as good as Ellis then why wouldnt everybody be loading up on mid first round picks? Ellis is worth much more then a first, for example Travis Hamonic was traded last season from NY to Calgary, and Calgary gave up a First and 2 second round picks, and Ellis is clearly a superior defensman then Hamonic. think before you talk

  • IceMan11

    We can’t afford any more “risks”!
    A proven commodity will cost us more, but the payoff will more than worth it, imo.
    Good goalies also have good D and responsible forwards in front of them. Something we don’t have.

  • OilerForLife

    Fortunately, we have Skinner being developed as we speak, but its at least a couple of years down the road. Signing him as a backup for two years couldn’t hurt. At 25, Brossoit’s timeline to become an NHL player is becoming very short, and clearing waivers should be a clear message on his chances. Nick Ellis hasn’t really developed that well either. Goaltending depth is definitely an organizational weakness and Koskinen would be a welcome addition to take a chance on.

  • It is nice to have some competition at the backup position. With Brossoit, Montoya, and Koskinen all in the mix for the job it atleast means we won’t just gift the position like we did last year.

  • Arfguy

    Low cost, 2 year contract? What’s the worst that can happen? At this point, Al Montoya still has one more year on his contract. If Koskinen works out, then come trade deadline, someone might want Al Montoya. I really do not like Montoya as an option as a back-up for the Oilers.

    • LAKID

      Montoya will not see the NHL in Oiler silks and there is no reason to keep him if he destined to Bakersfield. No rub on Al but just another Gigantic Blunder by Chia. Chia SEEYA!

  • madjam

    6 feet six inches – big boy . However , he is playing for a loaded team in KHL with the likes of Datsyuk , Kovalchuk , Voynov , Gusev , etc., that has won title two of last 3 seasons and only had 5 losses this year. His playoff this year sees him after 4 games at .905 , but has only faced 79 shots for under 20 a game .Might be decent , we’ll wait and see .

  • What-a-Mike

    IMO, going after a player with a .937 average (BTW that is great in either NHL or KHL), is never a bad thing for a 1 yr shot at back-up. Also, being 6’6″ tall and big, that he is not going to cost an asset (trade) and will very likely be cheaper than already known NHL back-ups, makes this a sensible approach. Match his size and KHL record this year up against Brossoit, Montoya, Ellis/Starrett (Minors), etc., and signing him is a no brainer. If he does sign and nothing goes good during fall camp/exhibition season, the OIlers then didn’ t lose out (again) on any type trade/or other upcoming draft pick. My question now is what happened to that OIler drafted kid Miroslov Svoboda (??) playing in the KHL now (seems to have awesome record the past two yrs/is 23 yrs old also) and why couldn’t the Oilers sign him to an ELC/bring him up to camp?

    • crabman

      Adding Koskinen could work out but it is as much a gamble as any other unproven in the NHL goalie. He plays on a stacked team in an inferior league. This year alone 11 goalies that played at least 20 games had a lower than 2.00 gaa. And 12 players that played at least 20 games had a .930s% or higher. Koskinen ha great numbers but so does a 3rd of their league.
      As a comparison A. Nilsson had a 1.71gaa and .936 s% the year before coming to the Oilers as Talbot’s backup. Here he had 3.14gaa and .901 s%. Nilsson is also 6 foot 6. The only real difference is Nilsson was 4 years younger.
      No guarantee KHL numbers will translate to NHL success. Might be worth the try but still a gamble. By bringing in an unknown commodity the team would stop trying to upgrade the backup position with a known NHL goalie. The Oilers would lose out on the opportunity to improve the position when other options are available.
      That would be my argument against this signing but honestly I’m on the fence. It all depends what the other options are.

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    Pass….keep Montoya….and focus on finding cheap scoring wingers and a right shot defenseman…C’mon Chiarelli, we didn’t miss the playoffs because of a lack of a proven backup.

  • Corbs

    Backup goalie makes very little difference.

    If the starter plays well, the backup only plays 15 games. With a decent team in front of him we would be fine. If the starter sucks, then it doesn’t matter because the season is lost.

    • crabman

      would it not help to have a backup who could give you 20 starts. That leaves your starter 62 games. Gives him enough rest so he is fresher for a playoff run and also reduces the chance of injury. Also the luxury of having a backup that can step in for a month or longer incase of injury to the starter.
      If everything goes right it doesn’t matter who the backup is. But wouldn’t it be nice to not throw away a season because the starter goes down with a freak injury?

    • LAKID

      Backup goalies don’t make a difference? Talbot cost the Oilers a shot at a wildcard spot. The Oiler’s should have just played LB instead of throwing away a 4th round draft pick for a goalie that was going on waivers and comming of a concussion. The Oiler’s were to scared to even let Montoya play and rode a terrible Talbot. LB would have been a better option than Montoya or Talbot. The management of assets is beyond unexceptable and some one should pay the price, if it isn’t Chia it should be the clowns that hired him.

    • crabman

      The only team in the league to start their starter 67 games this season, leaving only 15 games to the backup, was the Oilers. Only 9 teams started their starter at least 60 games, leaving 22 for non starters.
      The average backup goalie starts for playoff teams is 25 games. Only 5 playoff teams started a backup less than 20 games. And the playoff teams that relied on backup goalies the most were, NJ 42, Philadelphia 40, Pittsburgh 37, Vagas 36, Colorado 35, Boston 29, and Washington 28. over 67% of playoff teams start a backup at least 25% of the time or 1/4 of the season. That’s more than a possible 40pts. A good backup can mean the difference between being a playoff team or not.

  • Mr.Snrub

    I’m of two minds on this one, first trying to predict a non Top 10 NHL goaltenders future performance is basically Voodoo plus Coach Todd has ALWAYS limited his backup goaltenders starts to barely above the absolute minimum and i don’t see that changing next season. So hey why not give this KHL guy a try?

    On the other hand this is a somewhat risky non traditional move from a upper management team that frankly does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. Did God Emperor Lowe watch this kid play on a Long Island road trip 7+ years ago and has been biding his time since? Do these clowns still think they’re the smartest guys in the league and don’t have to do things the regular way aka just sign a damn NHL backup to be your NHL backup!?

    Will be a very interesting season next year that’s for certain.

    • Peksisarvinen

      Oilers do not have the luxury of making progress with safe moves. There’s simply not enough value in the team to get by with trades and not enough money left in the coffers to just sign UFA’s. Koskinen has much more potential than people here seem to realize, so much so that I would almost bet money on him becoming a #1 goalie immediately, with potential to be the Oilers’ franchise goalie.

      Which sounds like high praise and overly optimistic, which it could very well be, but it’s worth a shot regardless. Best case, there’s that franchise goalie Oilers so desperately need (and let’s be honest, do not have in Talbot).

  • Total Points

    Oilers need a experienced backup.

    Talbot has proved each year that he goes cold for about a month each year. An experienced back up would fill in until Talbot regains his confidence.

  • lobby91

    No faith in Montoya or LB…

    Ward is awful, Bernier will cost too much, and Halak is 76 years old, not much available. Sign the guy you can’t get worse than we had this year

  • Oilers Rule

    If looking at the KHL for a goalie is the solution, why not look at the KHL’s best goalie, Ben Scrivens? Perhaps he’s under contract with Aksbar Salvat (not sure if I got team name spelled right?) and not available to sign wth an NHL team this off season?

    • crabman

      @Oilers Rule,
      I’m sure you’re just taking a piss suggesting Scrivens and calling him the KHL’s best goalie. For those who would like to know how he stacks up over there here are his stats;

      23rd in Games played with 35
      12th in wins with a 19-11-4 record
      25th in gaa with 2.29
      35th in save%

  • Oilers Rule

    Tell me there aren’t a couple top notch goalies sitting in the AHL percolating and waiting their opportunity in the show who wouldn’t make and adequate backup at less coat and less risk than an unknown in the KHL??

    • crabman

      The 3 that stand out to me, besides a few ELC goalies that won’t be moved, are Toronto’s 2 farm goalies Sparks(24) and Pickard(26) as well as Winnipeg farm hand Hutchinson(28).
      All young enough and played well enough in the AHL that they could get a shot in the NHL next year. Both Pickard and Hutchinson have played long stretches in the NHL as well.
      I wouldn’t mind seeing Hutchinson given a chance as backup. He has played 28+ games 3 times and has a career 2.65gaa and .910s%. This year in the minors he had a 2.08gaa and .935 s% worth a look over the aging Montoya.

  • Peksisarvinen

    I’m kinda surprised this many people think of him only as a backup to Talbot. There’s a real good chance you’re going to be looking silly for underestimating him, and should he play as well as I expect him to, there’s a pretty good chance we can trade Talbot for a winger/D next year.