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Photo Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: The goalie situation

With the Oilers on the outside of the playoffs looking in this spring, there isn’t much to talk about in Oil Country. As a result, a rumour about the Oilers reportedly gearing up to sign KHL goalie Mikko Koskinen to a two-year deal has become the biggest point of conversation around the team this week.

Koskinen was drafted by the New York Islanders back in 2009 with the 31st overall pick. He never suck as a goalie in the NHL, went back to Europe, and, in recent years has become one of the KHL’s best goalies. He helped SKA St. Petersburg to to the Gagarin Cup in 2017, posted a .937 save percentage during the regular season this year, and was excellent in net for Finland at the Olympics in Pyeongchang.

That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question(s). Would you be OK with the Oilers brining in Koskinen as their backup, 1B goalie next year? Are you OK with the reported $2.5 million cap hit he might be signing for? If not, which goalie in free agency should the Oilers acquire? Was Cam Talbot’s rough year an anomaly or do the Oilers badly need a strong fallback option heading into the 2018-19 season?

There’s no doubt that Koskinen was good in the KHL. There’s certainly some merit to taking a risk on him as he could be an excellent late-bloomer, much like his potential teammate Talbot was. That said, the KHL is nowhere near the calibre of the NHL. Anders Nilsson posted a .936 save percentage in the KHL before signing with the Oilers and was just a mediocre backup in Edmonton. Obviously the Oilers have had scouts watching Koskinen this year and more goes into this decision than simply looking at his numbers and then comparing them to another guy’s numbers, of course.

But if the Oilers feel they need somebody who can take on a bigger workload than we’ve seen in the previous couple of years, why don’t they grab somebody with more NHL experience? If Koskinen doesn’t pan out, they’re back in the exact same situation they were in with Jonas Gustavsson, who, once upon a time, was the best goalie not in the NHL. 

The free agent market isn’t loaded with big names, but there are a handful of goalies with solid pedigree. Jonathan Bernier and Jaroslav Halak are free agents and have played starting roles before, Anton Khudobin and Carter Hutton were two of the better backup goalies in the league last season, and Cam Ward is a local boy with a load of NHL experience. Again, none of these are perfect players, by any stretch, but I feel all five are closer to a sure thing than Koskinen is at this point.

What say you, Nation? Who’s the best fit for the Oilers on the open market? Is it Koskinen? Or is it somebody else?


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  • Spydyr

    Trade for a starter. If you cannot do that then acquire a goaltender around 25 that has the potential to be a starter. Bringing in over 30 year old goalies makes little sense. A Tim Thomas only comes around every few decades

    • SRELIOFAN

      The Oilers don’t need a starter. They need a competent backup to push Talbot to play well and to be able to play 15-20 games. I think Cam Ward or Halak would be fine in that role this year.

        • Oilman99

          The guy got back his mojo after the all star break. Check his stats,we don’t need to make another Dubnick mistake. A lot of goalies have a rocky period in their careers.

        • NoBuBlackOPS

          @Spyder just cause a goalie struggles one year doesn’t mean he’s not a starter. By your logic I guess the Kings should of traded Quick after the 12/13 season he posted a 902 save percentage. Since that season he’s has done between 915-921. Seems like its better to look at the whole picture than be narrow sighted and focus on a half to two thirds season of inconsistent play. Especially given the fact special teams was a train wreck. Plus missing a top four Dman for half the season coming off major surgery and another top 4 playing with 22 bone fragments in his shoulder.

      • LAKID

        Talbot is a backup and he earned that position a true #1 is needed for Talbot to push for the #1 spot. The Oiler’s going into next season without a proven #1 will only lead to the same results as this season. The Oiler’s going into next season with two backups will also be the GM and Coaches jobs.

  • The Whispererer

    I find it hard to believe that even Chiarelli would give a 2 x $2.5 contract to a 30 year old goalie whose KHL numbers are just about average for the KHL. For instance Anders Nilsson had very similar numbers when he was acquired by the Oilers and was 4 years younger. This past year Koskinen split goaltending duties as a 1a, 1b and the other goalie had basically the same numbers. Also, Koskinen’s salary this year was reported to be ~ $1.3 U.S.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    There’s an assumption here that Koskinen will be the backup, hence the salary. I wish though that they’d just pony up and pay one of the existing backups like Cam Ward and stop the endless search for a backup goalie. But such is the way the Oilers roll….constantly search for the same thing every off season yet never actually address it ! We STILL need a very good offensive RD too bur that hasn’t been addressed for years either !

    • NoBuBlackOPS

      No to cam Ward doesn’t make since to me. Addressing the need for a top four RD isn’t easy there’s not enough RD in the league. There’s multiple teams in the NHL that have to play a LD on the right simply because that’s the only option available.

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    Al Montoya is signed for another year, what is the fascination with getting a back up goalie? If Talbot rebounds next year and plays 60-65 games, as I expect he will, run with Montoya for 15-20 games. The only way I want Koskinan in Edmonton is if it is relief duty if one of Talbot or Montoya are hurt. Koskinan is too old to be a prospect, and 2.5 mill/year is too much for unproven…Again, of all the the Oilers problems last year, a viable back up was the least of their worries…Run with Montoya and find someone for the AHL, or draft a goalie and let them develop like Skinner.

    • Kepler62c

      “A viable back up was the least of their worries”…? Guess you weren’t watching all those games Brossoit lost for us when Talbot was injured, hence Montoya was brought in, Montoya’s play was sub-par, hence we are having this discussion now.

      • Chris Prongers Rake

        It is the least of their worries, I guess you weren’t watching the home games where they couldn’t kill a penalty, any games where they couldn’t score on the powerplay, all the games when they where outworked, outhustled, beaten to pucks and looked completely out manned, a viable back up will solve all those issues eh? The defense was porous to start the year, got a bit better, and the forwards couldn’t score but we should spend 2.5mill/year on a backup? Yeah that will fix all the problems.

    • camdog

      Nillson was successful in his stint here. Not only did he hold it together until Talbot got his game together, they were still able to trade him later is the season for a depth draft pick.

      The same comments being made about Talbot aren’t any different than the “Devan Dubnyk isn’t an NHL goalie”. Talbot will be better. That said the Oilers aren’t looking for a back up, they are looking for their next starter. They currently have nobody lined up in their net for 2019. Contrary to popular belief good, starting number one goalies are hard to find and even harder when you are bad at making trades and can’t afford to over pay on free agents.

    • Not the biggest problem but it is a place where we can improve. The problem with Montoya is that he won’t push Talbot. Anders Nilsson atleast had decent stretches here and stole some starts from Talbot. If Koskinen signs for the reported 2yr/$1.5M then that’s a chance to get a potential 1B goalie without giving up any assets. If he doesn’t work out then oh well we can just send him to Bakersfield and keep Montoya here.

  • Kepler62c

    I like the idea of signing Koskinen, but I agree that there are much safer options out there. At the end of the day, the scouting and management staff need to determine what kind of risk there is with this guy vs. Ward, Bernier, Khudobin, etc.

    Barring a trade, Montoya will likely be in the AHL next season and he does provide some cover – so that needs to be taken into account too.

  • Total Points

    Get an experienced NHL back up goalie, not someone from the KHL. I would be disgusted if the Oilers sign him especially if it is for 2.5 m.

    This sounds like a decision made at a meeting of the “Red Wine Summit”

  • A-Mc

    It is my opinion that a large portion of Cam’s struggles last season was because of the state of our Defense. His game started to come back when our D started to sort itself out.

    I would hate to sign another backup, especially at 2.5M, if that 2.5M could be better used as part of the signing of a RHD or RW. For this reason i cannot even discuss the backup goalie position until i know what’s going on with the D/W’s.

    • percy

      Use the money to upgrade our Def, and Rw. Montoya might work out fine. I think if we had Montoya this fall instead of LB we would have been in a better position to make the playoffs. Can’t figure out why Montoya didn’t get more starts towards the end. Why would we want that question answered.( stupid)Not impressed with Todd.

      • crabman

        Montoya wouldn’t have helped. the Oilers needed 9 more wins. Brossoit started 10 games going 3-7, winning 30% of his starts. Montoya started 5 games and went 2-2, winning 40% of his starts. Of Montoya started all 15 games started by the backup and won his 40% of games that would have given him a 6-9 record. Giving them only 1 more win still leaving them 16 points shy of making the playoffs. The only way they make the playoffs with talbots record is if the backup went 14-1 in their starts.

        • percy

          You could be right , but upgrading the DEF and adding a RW to the line up could be the difference maker. We have to be better on DEF or bringing in who ever as a backup might not matter.

          • crabman

            @percy, absolutely. Without upgrading in other areas it could be another rough year for whoever is in net. Or it will at least be a lot tough than if they do fix the other holes. I would like to see an upgrade in backup but it isn’t my top priority.

    • LAKID

      I don’t think the defence let the first shot on goal in. Talbot has not been good for a solid season since he has been here and was a question mark in the playoffs. The Oiler’s will not win with him as the #1.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Hutton, Khudobin, Bernie are all SAFER acquisitions than some guy from the KHL. And if we didn’t forget, Nilsson was traded halfway through his season with the club. But right now, a scoring winger and RHD are more important than a backup. Hell, id be fine with even Montoya being the backup. He decent,

    • Fire Woodcroft!

      If the Nillson example is a precedent why is that a bad thing? Yeah – It’s terrible to pick up someone for nothing to that can be flipped at the trade deadline for an asset…(sarcasm)

      The big question here would be cap hit – and from the comments it doesn’t sound like that is fully known at this point.

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        True. On the flip side of that argument, Nilsson being the starter for the first bit of the 2015/16 season was actually to Talbot’s benefit as Talbot had to earn the No.1 spot back. Maybe that’s what they’re hoping for with this guy?

  • Crakupov

    I think the oilers are looking at this guy as more than a potential backup. He might be a late bloomer and seems to have got his game together. If it is 2.5 million per season that’s not a bad deal if there is the potential for more here. Otherwise I would be fine with Montoya for 15 games per year. Our true goaltending need is someone that can challenge Talbot when he is poor in net. (like the first half of the season) If this guy can do that for no assets going the other way, why not?

  • C U Next Tuesday

    If he signs with Edmonton it will either be a home rum or a strikeout…hardly the position of someone whose job is on the line. Pete, you have a pair of brass ones and I have to respect a man that isn’t scared to F up.

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    The KHL is not a source for good players. All of them are not in the NHL for a reason. It would be best to try and find a viable, experienced NHL goaltender to back up Talbot. Talbot has had one off year after being a workhorse for us the year before. Improve the D and I think you will find that Talbot’s numbers will improve.

  • What-a-Mike

    To me… I saw Talbot injured, looking tired, and… on his knees way too much before the shot. I see that as not oinly wrong bad goaltending… but that he never got better consiustently, I saw that as being not coached too great as well. I am one who believes Talbot had an off year with confidence at a low level. I am also blaming the defence as well for not being helpful around the net way too many times. I give Talbot a mulligan for this season with expectations of being at the top of his game much more next year. However, aside from the important direction of improving the defence/seeing the defence play much better, I would look at two things for the back up… #1 would be cost per year/no assets going out to get a very good backup, and #2, a look at just more than the save percentage record. Koskinen has a great % but when looking at average total pf shots faced per game it has been around 21-23 per game…not much. I look at Pavel Francouz who has better % and he faced about 28-31 shots per game average. IMO, getting a goalie without losing in trading for one and paying too high for one, I would like the Oilers to sign Francouz instead (he is only 27 yrs old as well) at 2 rs per 1.5 mil per year. The Oilers cap space and prospect cupboards makes getting a player like this a necessity. Besides, Montoya is still around for the year anyways if this doesn’t work out.

    • GinYYC

      How much of Talbots struggles this year could be the result of playing 80 games the previous year? I believe he’s a good, potentially great starting goalie in the NHL. His workload was too high though which leads to fatigue and injury. Getting someone who can handle 30 games is important. Coach has to trust that backup to play those games though, something that didn’t appear to be there this year.

    • Freddie the fog

      Francouz is 5’10 which by todays standards is small but if he’s a quality puck stopper…no issue. Here is the problem. Hockey DB has him listed at 154 lbs !!! That’s a featherweight ! I dont think a goalie that small holds up through the rigours of an NHL schedule. Tough schedule in the KHL too im sure…but the calibre of shooters is MUCH better. Id pass

  • a lg dubl dubl

    The conspiracy theorist in me think this Koskinen rumour is just that, meanwhile PC is working a deal with Montreal to land Price for Drai and their first, just waiting for the lottery to happen then BAM we have a trade! 😉🤔😜

  • crabman

    I would be fine with Koskinen as a backup if the rumored $2.5M was total for 2 years and not per. At the same time if I was looking for an older Goalie in that $1.25-1.5M range who had a great year in a lesser league I would prefer Hutchinson out of Winnipeg’s farm.
    If the plan is to spend in the $2.5M range all three of the good NHL backup goalies you mention in the article are all good options. Although I think Bernier might get an opportunity as a starter or 1B elsewhere for $2.5M or a bit more.

    I think Talbot will bounce back next year and if he does $2.5M will be too much for a backup. The only way I would invest that much in a backup is if it was for a mid 20s guy who is being groomed to take over for Talbot in a year or 2. Or if the plan is to move Talbot out now and replace him with a 1A and the $2.5M backup is a 1B.
    for example trading Talbot to someone like Buffalo, who could be looking for a starter depending on what happens with Lehner(RFA), and used those assets + to trade for Grubauer and signed him 2-3 years <$4M per.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Talbot is not worth much on the trade market, only one yr left on his contract then he’s UFA. Last years 46th best SV% was brutal.
      PC can’t afford to blow another season away without decent goaltending.

      • crabman

        @Kneedroptalbot, as a starter he would get at least a 2nd and 3rd, basically what we paid for him 3 years ago before he spent 3 years playing as a starter and more games than any other goalie. He had a bad year but he is just 1 year removed from a very good season playing 73 games and backstopping the Oilers to a 103 pt season and has good career numbers. That player has value to the right team.

        But I’m in the group that expects Talbot to rebound and have a good season next year. I wouldn’t trade him unless it was to add a younger potential starter not because I don’t think he is good but because I don’t know if he is a solution longterm( 3+ years from now).

      • NoBuBlackOPS

        @Kneedroptalbot Many goalies have an off year and rebound fine the next. One off year doesn’t mean you just up get rid of your starter. I fully believe talbot will rebound next year. In 12-13 Quick posted a 902 save%. He’s posted between 915-921 since that season. It would of been pretty stupid for LA to just give up on him for one off year. You also did not bring up how the special yearns were a train wreck. Missing a top four Dman for half a season who had major surgery and another top 4 playing injured all season. All reason that would have a negative effect on any goalies stats.

        • Spydyr

          The things is Talbot has not had one bad year his first year here he lost the starters job by November and last year speaks for itself. He has had one good year as a starter.

          • crabman

            @Spydyr,
            Talbot had a bad month his 1st season he lost his starting job for a few weeks while he worked out the kinks in his game. He still played 56 games, had a .917 save% and 2.55gaa for a very bad Oiler tesm
            Compare him to his replacement. Nilsson playe 26 games, had a .901 save% and 3.14gaa.
            The top 6 defencemen on the Oilers that year by games played and minutes played were, in order;
            1.Sekera(playing his offside)
            2. Nurse(as a rookie playing top pair minutes)
            3. Fayne
            4. Gryba (4th games played 5th minutes)
            5. Davidson (5th gp, 4th minutes)
            6. Shultz.

            Look at Talbot’s stats compare him to how his backup did and look at that defence in front of him and tell me he had a bad year.

          • crabman

            @Spydyr,
            56 games .917 save%, 2.55gaa. these are the numbers Talbot gave the Oilers his 1st year. And if those are the numbers he gives them next year people should be happy because those are starting goalie numbers.
            I hope Talbot can have some more games off next year and only start 55-60 games. that would be a good season and with a better team I front of him than the Oilers were in 2015-16, the season McDavid missed half the year and the defence was well bellow league average, the team will have better results than 2015-16.

            I don’t see how giving stats and pointing out his inferior team is making excuses. He was a good goalie on a bad team your dislike for the player doesn’t change that.

      • crabman

        @Kneedroptalbot,
        This is WWYDW, so what would you do? I’ve spent months reading your comments slagging Talbot every chance you got but I don’t remember you ever offering any opinion on how you think the Oilers should improve the position. A whole lot of Talbot is awful and needs to be replaced but by who? What do you do with Talbot and his $4.17M next year? With the team that played in front of him last year who do you think would have been a better option? And if the team doesn’t improve in front of him next year who do you think will do better as his replacement? How much would that acquisition cost the team?
        Do you have an opinion beyond Talbot sucks?

        We are all entitled to our opinion but many people come on here, myself included, to discuss the Oilers and how they can improve going forward. Simply saying over and over and over again that a player is awful but not adding anything to the conversation gets old and makes you seem like a troll.

  • CMG30

    Huge issue with Chirelli and the Oilers in general: Dispite there being proven players with a track record that can be had for cheaper, he/they decide to take the risk of signing an unproven player for a critical role for more dollars than they are worth.

    • Big Nuggets

      Yeah, although it was an issue before Chiarelli came around. I didn’t hate Belov but he was in over his head. Nikitin for 4.5 million was just awful.

  • Freddie the fog

    Id say take a run at 27 year old Michael Hutchinson in Winnipeg. He had a very good year with the Moose and me b just getting to his peak performance year. I believe Eric Comrie is the primary goalie the Jets are grooming to backup Helly. A deal for Hutchinson should b doable. Perhaps a 3rd and a 5th round draft picks should get it done

    • crabman

      @Freddie the frog,
      I’ve been talking about Hutchinson for a while now. If you were to go after a backup not in the NHL today he would be at the top of my list. So I agree with you there except he would only cost money. He is a UFA this summer so save those draft picks. And I think he would be a much cheaper option than what has been rumored for Koskinen.

      • Kneedroptalbot

        WWYDW, OK here you go, my take.
        Talbot comes back to fulfill the final year of his contract, he has an opportunity to win a spot 1A or 1B? I would work with the goaltender coaches toimprove his style, so he doesn’t come way out of the crease to challenge and then butterfly (ok Knee Drop) prior to the shot. Too many times he was way out of position. Even Jonathan Quick had to change his style and play closer to the paint when going down. I have absolutely no problem with that style when playing in the paint.
        Edm should give ample oppurtunity to the other 2 goaltenders, to have the same oppurtunity. Yes I liked Anders Nilsson, and Darcy Kemper as well. Not sure of Mikko Koskinen? But I sure like his size 6″6″.
        Even 2 years ago when Talbot played well….LB was the backup. If Talbot would have struggled/gotten injured, EDM’s lack of goaltending depth would have been apparent. Don’t let it happen again.

        • crabman

          @Kneedroptalbot,

          Thanks for the input. Much better to have dialogue between fans.

          I agree not having a better backup even during a good season was a mistake and that needs to be addressed. I don’t have a lot of faith in bringing in Koskinen until I see how good he actually is. He had a great season this year but the 2 seasons before even though his numbers look good by NHL standards he was bottom of the league for starters in s% and gaa. And there are reports that he has issues with his lateral movement and can get caught out of position often. That was before this year and apparently he has worked hard to improve on that this season. I worry with the faster pace of the NHL and more skilled players he may have the same problem here. Talbot absolutely had a bad year and needs to work on his angles and positioning and I hope a summer of training with a goalie coach can help him.

          It sounds to me like although you don’t think the team can win with Talbot you still think they should come back with him as an option next year dispite your calling for him to be replaced all year. And counting on Koskinen and Montoya to challenge for starts and hope for the best. I hope Talbot bounces back and can give the Oilers at least league average goaltending next year. At this point I don’t trust the backup situation but with average goaltending the Oilers should be competitive.

  • GK1980

    Don’t agree signing this guy. KHL rarely translates to NHL success. Cough Belov.. cough cough. Sign a veteran NHL goalie with some pedigree that can still play a dozen games or more.

  • thenoble1

    I don’t think the problem here in Edmonton so much is the goalie, it’s the defense. Horrible defense will make a goalie worse and that’s exactly what’s happening in Edmonton.

  • Anton CP

    I don’t think to use Nilsson to Kokinen is really comparable because Nilsson only played for KHL just one season. Kokinen is older and also played many more games that makes him a good gamble if the price is right.

  • ScottV

    The goaltending has as much or more to do with coaching, than the goaltenders themselves.

    The strategy, the tactics, the types of players preferred, the overall priorities, the approach – on and on.

    Some coaches are goalie friendly, some are not and you have a lot that are in between, leaning one way or the other.

    McL is not goalie friendly. Coaches that are – win more.