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?
Further to @FriedgeHNIC on Mikko Koskinen.— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) April 22, 2018
My understanding is KHL UFA players contracts expire April 30th.
Peter Chiarelli said Goaltending was "close or near the top of things to look at," when I asked him about getting another goalie to ease Cam Talbot's workload- April 11
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.
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.
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?